When it comes to Ridge Vineyards it is easy to get carried away. For as long as I have been involved in wine, Ridge has been very special. For nearly 50 years I have been buying, drinking, and cellaring Ridge wines. I drink them often and have more Ridge wines in my cellar than any other wine. That pretty well sums it up.
In my visit To Ridge Vineyards late last year I had some of the most remarkable young Ridge wines I have ever had in all my years of tasting (to read that article with links to all articles on Ridge click here ). I also recently wrote about the spring releases (to read that article click here ).
Several more wines were released last month. They are very special and warrant your attention. My notes follow:
2014 Ridge Lytton Estate Petite Sirah Sonoma Valley Dry Creek Valley
Winemaker John Olney has proclaimed this Petite Sirah as one of the most elegant ever produced by Ridge. I fully agree. And, I know from experience that these wines really improve with bottle age and can keep for decades (to read an article with a note on the incredible 1971 Ridge Petite Sirah click here ). Here is what I had to say about Petite Sirah and Ridge’s history with the grape from the article that has the note on the 1971 Ridge Petite Sirah:
Ridge is one of the pioneer winemakers of Petite Sirah. The first was a 1970 made from Mendocino grapes. Then in 1971 grapes from vines planted in 1911 were harvested from the York Creek Vineyard in Napa Valley. This resulted in the legendary 1971 Ridge York Creek Petite Sirah. I first tasted it right after it was bottled and was mesmerized by the intensity and balance in the wine. I last tasted the wine probably 10 years ago. It was fabulous then and showed no sign of decline. (And, realizing that it had been so long since I had opened a bottle, I decided to try a bottle from my cellar. My note on that wine appears near the end of this article along with a note on another old Ridge Petite Sirah.) Ridge made many great Petite Sirahs from York Creek over a period of 40 years. Ridge also worked with old vines Petite Sirah in the Geyserville vineyards as well as in the Lytton Springs vineyards. Petite Sirah was the most widely planted varietal in the interplanted “Zinfandel” vineyards of the late 19th century. After the purchase of the original Lytton Springs vineyards in the 1990s Ridge replanted the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. By 2002 there was an abundance of Petite Sirah and the first limited quantity bottling of Lytton Estate Petite Sirah was made and sold only from the winery.
This 2014 Ridge Lytton Estate Petite Sirah is a great wine to buy and lay away although it certainly is very drinkable and attractive now. It is made with 100% Petite Sirah and has 13.9% alcohol. The color is very dark and the wine exhibits a seductive perfume showing an essence of black fruits. With great intensity on the palate it again shows a myriad of black fruit flavors accented by spice tinges. Balanced and structured with well integrated underlying tannins, this is a California classic in the making. It will soften over the next 10 years and continue to gain additional complexities for another 10-20 years – Outstanding Plus/Extraordinary Potential. $35
2014 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel Sonoma County Dry Creek Valley
Made with 69% Zinfandel, 18% Petite Sirah, 11% Carignane, and 2% Mataro (Mouvèdre) this wine has a dark color and a deep berry perfume with spice and cedar nuances. On the palate it has loads of berry fruit with cassis nuances and spicy undertones. Beautifully balanced with well integrated tannins and impressive depth and richness this is a classic claret style wine that will develop and evolve over a decade or two – Outstanding Plus. $40
2014 Ridge Pagani Ranch Zinfandel Sonoma Valley
Tasted from barrel last year this was very impressive. Now bottled the wine is true to form. This is a really great Pagani Ranch Zinfandel with its characteristic richness and exotic fruit quality. Made with 80% Zinfandel, 17% Alicante Bouchet, and 3% Petite Sirah the wine has a dark color and a deep perfume with plum and boysenberry fruit with a touch of spice and exotic nuances. Lush and rounded with a complex myriad of black fruit flavors accented by exotic spice it has a long finish with an underlying crispness. Delicious now, but the underlying acidity will integrate beautifully over time. Give it 5-10 years and it will be magical with a life well beyond – Outstanding Plus. $40
2014 Ridge Ponzo Zinfandel Sonoma County Russian River Valley
Made with 96% Zinfandel and 4% Petite Sirah this is a wonderfully fruity Zinfandel with its characteristic underlying acidity that gives the wine lift and adds to its appeal. The color is dark and the perfume is full of berry fruit with spice tinges. On the palate, there is lots of very pure complex berry fruit with a faint spiciness and the wine is balanced and straight forward with great zestiness and early appeal. Over the next 5 to 10 years, it will soften and mature and will give great drinking pleasure over the entire cycle. A win/win – Outstanding. $32
2013 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Mountains
This wine has been superb from the time I first tasted it from barrel (to read that article click here ). On my visit to Ridge late last year I tasted the wine out of bottle a few months after it was bottled. Below is that note.
Always made from a selection of the best Monte Bello lots, 19 lots of 26 were selected for the 2013 Monte Bello including only 1 of Merlot. Representing yields of just over 1.2 tons per acre, the wine is made with 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 7% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Merlot. Is this the best young Monte Bello ever? Time will tell. But for now, out of all the great young Monte Bellos that I have tasted (and that is nearly all of them back into the late 60s) I don’t recall ever having tasted a young Monte Bello better than this. With 13.6% alcohol the wine has a very dark color and a great intense perfume with cassis and blackberry fruit accented by cedar and a faint exotic quality. Rich, concentrated, and lush, it is loaded with fruit that is complex and beguiling with an exotic nuance. The structure is there with well integrated tannins wrapped in layers of fruit. Already this Monte Bello shows incredible balance and exhibits great complexity. One can only imagine what a wine it will be as it starts to hit its stride in 10 years –Extraordinary Plus.
In my Ridge Vineyards article on the spring releases I did not taste the 2013 Monte Bello, but offered this commentary:
Make no mistake, this 2013 Monte Bello is destined to be one of the all-time greats. Every Cabernet lover should have some in the cellar. Monte Bello Cabernets continue to improve and evolve over decades. And a great way to buy Monte Bello Cabernets is to join the collectors club and be advised of releases and get discounts and other benefits (to get more information click here ). I have talked about the age-ability of the Ridge Monte Bello Cabernets many times over the last 40 or so years. But, just in case there is anyone out there who does not know how well the Monte Bello Cabernets age, I will follow up this article very soon with tasting notes on old Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello Cabernets. Stay tuned! (To read about the old Ridge Monte Bello Cabernets click here ). The 2013 Ridge Monte Bello was bottled in May 2015. My previous note was from a tasting several months later. Now, tasting the wine for a second time from bottle, it is just as impressive as ever with additional subtle complexities developing. This is a legend in the making that will be magical in 10-20 years as it reaches full maturity. If you missed this Monte Bello when it was offered on a futures basis, this is another chance to buy this classic and epic wine.
Very dark in color the wine has an absolutely stunning perfume with loads of cassis fruit and hints of cedar accented by a tinge of mint and a faint exotic nuance. It is rich, round, and supple yet with great underlying structure and crispness. And, the fruit is very intense showing very pure cassis and black fruits intermingled with exotic nuances and faint hints of mint. Complex, rich, flavorful, and beautifully balanced with great length on the palate, this is destined to be one of the very best Monte Bellos ever – Extraordinary Plus. $185
WINE INGREDIENT LABELING
Like all Ridge wines, these wines have a list of all the ingredients on the back label. Given the uncertainty as to how many wines are being made today (click to read my articles What Is Wine? and
Caution! What’s In Your Wine ) this is crucial information for every consumer to consider. Ridge Vineyards is one of only 2 wineries in California to list ingredients on the back label (the other is Bonny Doon Vineyard). Here is what Ridge had to say when they began adding ingredients to their back labels:
Why is Ridge adding ingredients to its back labels?
At Ridge we call our approach to winemaking “pre-industrial”. We believe that for anyone attempting to make fine wine, modern additives and invasive processing limit true quality and do not allow the distinctive character of a fine vineyard to determine the character of the wine.
Ridge is adding to its labels a list of actions and ingredients to demonstrate how little intervention is necessary to produce a fine, terroir-driven wine from distinctive fruit. Although an ingredient list is not required by the TTB, if a winery chooses to add a list of ingredients to its back label it must list ALL ingredients.
(Click to read ATTENTION ALL WINE CONSUMERS: WINE INGREDIENT LABELING IS HERE!  from May 2013 which announced Ridge’s first label with ingredient labeling.)