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RIDGE VINEYARDS AND TABLAS CREEK VINEYARD

John Tilson • 5/25/14        Print This Post Print This PostComment Bookmark and Share

 

NEW RELEASES

Ridge Vineyards and Tablas Creek Vineyard are two California wineries producing consistently first rate wine that every wine lover should experience. Recent articles have covered them in depth and if you missed the articles click here.
Following are notes on recent releases. There are many wonderful wines here that represent very good value. Don’t miss them!

 Ridge Vineyards

In accordance with a new policy of listing ingredients on the labels, all Ridge wines now have the ingredients listed on the back label. For 50 years Ridge has been making wine in a traditional manner with minimal intervention. The ingredient labeling for Ridge wines typically says: Hand harvested, sustainably grown grapes, indigenous yeasts, naturally occurring malolactic bacteria, oak from barrels, minimum effective SO2. Some wines also have other things added such egg whites, and occasionally calcium carbonate, tartaric acid, or water. This is full disclosure in wine making and something all California wineries should do. (To read the article on Ridge’s commitment to ingredient labeling click here, to read about ingredient labeling in more detail on Ridge’s website click here, and to read about What is wine? and why all California wineries should adopt ingredient labeling click here)

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2012 Chardonnay Estate
This is a gorgeous full bodied Chardonnay with depth, richness, and balance. A floral perfume is accented by hints of apple and spice with a faint exotic undertone; and the fruit is very pure and flavorful showing hints of apple and peach with faint citrus spice nuances. A nice underlying crispness brings the wine together and shows through on the finish – Outstanding.    $50

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate
Made from Estate grapes that are not part of the Monte Bello bottling, thus wine has its own character and is a very good Cabernet value that will outshine many other Cabernets at much higher prices. The 2011 is blended with 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, and 1% Cabernet Franc. With air this wine really blossoms. Ideally it should be kept for a few years before drinking, but after it opens the wine is very expressive. Dark in color, there is a deep cassis perfume with hints of cedar and spice. Rich and rounded with well integrated underlying tannins, there is a lot of fruit with cedar, spice, and vanilla tinges and the wine has depth and richness. This is a wine with a great future ahead – Outstanding.     $50

2011 Merlot Estate
Made from 100% estate grown Merlot grapes, this is a gorgeous Merlot with a lot of charm. Lots of plummy fruit is accented cedar spice nuances. Rounded and supple the wine is beautifully balanced and very appealing now, yet should age effortlessly for 10 or more years – Outstanding.    $50

2012 Geyserville
This is a classic Geyserville. For decades Geyserville has consistently been a wonderful wine and it ages effortlessly for a very long time. It is a wine that I buy every year and drink often. If you like beautifully balanced and flavorful red wine and you don’t know Geyserville, you are missing something really special. This 2012 is composed of  a field blend of 71% Zinfandel, 19% Carignane, 7% Petite Sirah, 2% Mataro (Mouvèdre) and 1% Alicante Bouchet. The color is dark and the wine has a stunning perfume with a myriad of black fruits (especially plum and mulberry) with hints of spice and vanilla. Round, lush, rich, and supple, the flavors show lots of blackberry fruit with mulberry and spice nuances. Really delicious, this 2012 Geyserville is a winner – Outstanding Plus.      $38

2012 Zinfandel Paso Robles
Made from 100% Zinfandel grapes grown on the old vines in the Benito Dusi Ranch, this 2012 is a real stunner that is balanced and brimming with fruit. The color is dark and there is a deep perfume of plum, cassis, and blackberry. Rich and round with an intense myriad of black fruit flavors, the wine has balance and depth, but is not at all heavy. It is really delicious now and a pleasure to drink with a wide variety of hearty foods – Outstanding.    $30

2012 East Bench Zinfandel
Made from 100% Zinfandel grown on vines in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma, this is a blockbuster of a Zin. Loaded with supple berry fruit, the wine is rich and very flavorful. Accents of spice and vanilla intermingle with the fruit as well as a faint briary quality. Great to drink now, but there is no hurry. This will last a long time – Outstanding.     $28

2012 Three Valleys
This is the best Three Valleys Zinfandel I can remember tasting. Made from 82% Zinfandel, 12% Petite Sirah, 4% Carignane, and 2% Alicante Bouchet grown on vines in Sonoma County, the wine is beautifully balanced with a lot of charm and great early appeal. Brimming with supple fruit, accented by a kiss of spice, this is really lovely –  Outstanding.     $26

 Tablas Creek Vineyard

In addition to making some of the very best red and white Rhone varietals in California, Tablas Creek is also making really nice Rosés. Here are 3 lovely wines for summer enjoyment.

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2013 Vermentino
This is Tablas Creek’s 12th bottling of this increasingly popular white varietal that is grown in several areas of Europe and particularly in the Côtes de Provence of France where it is known as Rolle. The 2013 harvest at Tablas Creek was the earliest on record and produced this lovely zesty wine. Pale yellow in color with a lovely floral perfume showing subtle herbal notes, the wine has a bright citrus quality and is rounded with underlying crispness with delicate hints of melon. The production was only 900 cases  –  Highly Recommended.   $27

2013 Patelin de Tablas Rosé
Made from fruit grown in 7 Rhône varietal vineyards in Paso Robles, this wine is comprised of 73% Grenache, 22% Mourvèdre, and 5% Counoise. Pale amber gold in color it has a lovely floral spice tinged perfume with faint hints of strawberry. With lovely floral tinged flavors showing hints of strawberry and a very faint spice nuance, this is a beautifully balanced rosé that has a lot of charm and is very easy to drink – Outstanding.   $20

2013 Dianthus
This wine is now simply called Dianthus which is a name created from Greek words meaning god and flower. Common names for Dianthus are Carnation and “Pinks.”  At any rate, the wine is as impressive as the name. It is a gorgeous rosé made from estate grown varietals. With 57% Mouvèdre which is a primary grape for Bandol rosés from the Côtes de Provence and  28% Grenache which is a primary grape for Tavel rosés from the Rhône Valley, as well as 15% Counoise, it is a very flavorful rosé that marries beautifully with grilled meats and fish as well as spicy foods. The color is light reddish pink with a golden hue and the wine has a lovely floral perfume with cherry and watermelon nuances. On the palate there is a supple roundness and subtle hints of cherry, watermelon, and strawberry with floral citrus notes and a crisp finish – Outstanding.    $27

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4 comments for “RIDGE VINEYARDS AND TABLAS CREEK VINEYARD”

  1. Mr. Tilson, Thank you so much for the updated review of the Ridge wines. I am a big Ridge enthusiast. Ridge probably comprises on third of my wine collection. With that said, I have to say that I find that all but the Three Valley Zinfandel blends you described to be much too young to consume yet. They are still too closed in and overly tannic for my taste. I recently tried the 2011 “Heart’s Desire” Zinfandel. It too was in need of more time. I am often amazed at how well Ridge Zinfandels and Rhones do age. I did enjoy a 2010 Dusi Zinfandel recently, as well as the 2009 Perrone Merlot. How do you think the 2009 Geyeserville, Pagani Ranch, and Lytton Springs will be with additional bottle age? I keep them in temperature and humidity controlled wine units. Thanks, Keith

    Posted by Keith Weyuker | May 27, 2014, 4:04 pm
  2. Thanks Keith. Good for you and your appreciation of Ridge. I first visited Ridge in the 60s. I have been buying, drinking, and cellaring the wines ever since. I can tell you for sure that the wines age remarkably well. Some Zinfandels from the 70s are still great. On the back label there is a recommended aging period for each wine and these have always proven to be a good guide, but the wines can last for many years beyond. I taste and drink the young Ridge wines to keep up. But, I drink far more old Ridge wines from my cellar. I have them back into the 1960s. They are remarkable and some of the best values to be found anywhere.
    In Vino Veritas,
    John

    Posted by John Tilson | May 28, 2014, 10:02 am
  3. I have been a Ridge fan for several decades. I have been told by a ‘reliable’ source that Ridge uses the cheapest barrels (Slovakian?) on the market (~$300/bbl) due to the fact that Ridge uses a unique sized barrel.

    If true, Ridge evidently doesn’t think the cost of changing their aging racks and 3x cost of new barrels is worth it. I am advised that they do experiment with various high-end barrels annually so have experience with the effects of this expensive wood.

    At a recent vertical tasting (80s+90s) Monte Bello, Montelena, Dunn Howell), I mentioned this to the very serious and experienced tasters. The best theory I heard is that the impact of the quality of the oak aging barrels is significantly reduced over time.

    If this is true (sounds good to me), the only wines intended for early term drinking should be using the $1000+/bbl wood.

    Comments?

    Posted by Bruce Zeiser | May 28, 2014, 10:16 am
  4. Hi Bruce,
    If you have been a Ridge fan for several decades, then you know how the wines age. The key to aging is balance. In the case of Ridge, it is traditional wine making. You can read about that in my Underground articles and on the Ridge website. Ridge has never been interested in a strong wood component in their wines. Too much wood distorts the taste of the wine and tends to cause the wines to dry out over time. Ridge uses American oak. They use American oak not because it costs less than French barrels (they do cost a lot less), but because they have a subtle influence on the wine. That is to say, the barrels are made in manner that they will not impart a strong flavor component. I don’t like a strong taste of new wood in young wines. Many of the 100 point boys do. It’s just a matter of taste. But, again, for me, the use of too much new wood in wine is a negative influence and is a waste of money.
    In Vino Veritas,
    John

    Posted by John Tilson | May 28, 2014, 11:43 am

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