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RIDGE VINEYARDS – FALL 2018 RELEASES

John Tilson • 10/12/18        Print This Post Print This PostComment Bookmark and Share

 

The Ridge Vineyards fall 2018 releases are out. They feature 5 red wines. And, true to form, they are all delicious wines with the typical Ridge character, balance, and appeal (to read the most recent Ridge Vineyards article with a note on ingredient labeling and links to all previous Ridge Vineyards articles click here). New releases from Ridge are always a treat as this is one winery that only produces gorgeous, balanced, food-friendly wines that can be consumed young and also can age effortlessly for many years. When it comes to Ridge Vineyards it is easy to get carried away. Last year The Daily Meal (where I am a wine contributor) named Ridge Vineyards as the number one winery in America for the third time (to read that article click here).  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 Vineyards wines in my cellar than any other wine. That pretty well sums it up. Don’t miss these new releases. My notes follow:

2015 Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello (Santa Cruz Mountains)
There have been so many great Monte Bellos over the years that it is hard to choose a favorite. I long ago stopped trying and simply placed a standing order to buy the wine every year. As a result, I have a complete inventory in my cellar back into the 1960s and drink the wines often. I have been well rewarded and have never had a disappointment. If you love great traditional California Cabernet Sauvignon as I do, I highly recommend that you follow my lead and place your order (to go to the website where you can also join the wine clubs and join the Monte Bello futures program click here). And, having made the statement about all the great Ridge Monte Bellos, I can say without hesitation that this newly released 2015 will stand side by side with the best of them.
The 2015 Monte Bello production was 4000 cases. The wine was made with 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc. Reduced yields resulted in a wine of great  intensity that is also combined with great elegance. The color is very dark and the wine shows a stunning perfume with a myriad of black fruits, a touch of cedar, and a faint exotic tinge. With layers of fruit the wine is rich and full yet with great underlying structure and impeccable balance. Long on the palate this is a very great classic Monte Bello. I tasted and re-tasted it over several days and the wine continued to open and evolve. It is simply a great wine that will develop over decades and be a cellar treasure – Extraordinary.   $215

2016 Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs (Dry Creek Valley Sonoma County)
Made with 69% Zinfandel, 23% Petite Sirah,6% Carignane, and 2% Mataro (Mourvèdre) the 2016 production was 11,000 cases. Dark in color the wine has a deep perfume of spice tinged blackberries with a very faint exotic nuance. With lots of fruit the wine is rounded and very harmonious, but, make no mistake, with additional age it will show additional complexity and develop over many years into the future – Outstanding/Outstanding Plus.      $44

2016 Ridge Vineyards Petite Sirah Lytton Estate (Dry Creek Valley    Sonoma County)
For my money, Petite Sirah may be California’s most underrated varietal. There are probably several reasons which include relatively small plantings, use of Petite Sirah to add color and richness to other wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, and sometimes very tannic wines that are not properly made.
In the early years Petite Sirah was the most widely planted varietal in the interplanted “Zinfandel” vineyards of the late 19th century. More recently it has shown up as a varietal. There are some times when Petite Sirah can be a bit closed in the beginning, but with age it blossoms into something very special. Ridge has been making Petite Sirah for nearly 50 years. They know how to deal with the grape to make a wine of great intensity and balance. Starting with a Petite Sirah from Mendocino in 1970, Ridge moved on to making Petite Sirah from York Creek beginning in 1971. (The 1971 is legendary and to read my note on this extraordinary wine click here). From 1971 to 1979 the Ridge York Creek Petite Sirah was made from the oldest vines (planted in 1911) in the Devils Hill section of the York Creek Vineyard which is located in the Spring Mountain district of the Napa Valley. In addition to Petite Sirahs from York Creek, Ridge also worked with old vines Petite Sirah in the Geyserville vineyards as well as in the Lytton Springs vineyards. 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 2016 is yet another great vintage for Lytton Estate Petite Sirah. The production is 2,500 cases and the wine is made from 100% Petite Sirah. The color is very dark and the wine has a subtle perfume with blackberry fruit accented by a touch of spice. This is a full throttle wine that maintains its sense of harmony and balance with balanced underlying tannins and lots of depth and richness. Tasted over a period of days the wine developed beautifully with even more expressive fruit and flavor. If you so not know Petite Sirah you need to taste this wine to know what you are missing – Outstanding Plus.        $40

2016 Ridge Vineyards Pagani Ranch Zinfandel (Sonoma Valley  Sonoma County)
Ridge Vineyards was one of the original advocates of Zinfandel during a time when Zinfandel was first relatively unknown, then became an alcoholic “late harvest” slightly sweet wine which enjoyed a brief period of fame only to virtually disappear to be reincarnated as the ubiquitous “White Zinfandel” a slightly sweet simple pink wine. With such a history, it is amazing that Zinfandel survived. But, thanks to Ridge Vineyards and a few others it survived. And, it survived for a reason. That reason is very simple. Zinfandel is unique to California and properly grown and produced it can produce distinctive and consistently outstanding wines either in a field blend with other grapes or as a varietal. Ridge Vineyards consistently makes great Zinfandel. Year in and year out Pagani Ranch, along with Jimsomare, is one of my favorite Zinfandels.
This 2016 Ridge Vineyards Pagani Ranch Zinfandel is yet another winner. The production was 3,250 cases and the wine is made with 88% Zinfandel, 9% Petite Sirah, and 3% Alicante Bouschet. Dark in color with lots of berry fruit showing a faint exotic tinge the wine is rich and full with loads of fruit. It has great underlying structure that is balanced by the fruit and is very flavorful with impressive length on the finish. This is a real “under the radar” wine that will give many years of drinking pleasure. I enjoy Pagani Ranch Zinfandels young and old and always find them a pleasure to drink – Outstanding Plus.      $40

 

2016 Ridge Vineyards Ponzo Zinfandel (Russian River Valley  Sonoma County)
The production of this wine is 2,250 cases. It is made with 97% Zinfandel and 3% Petite Sirah. This 2016 is really lovely in a harmonious and balanced claret style that is a pleasure to drink and a great match for many savory foods. It has a deep color and a lovely floral tinged red berry perfume with a faint cedary accent. Beautifully balanced with very pure red berry fruit showing a faint floral undertone this is a delicious wine to enjoy now or for many years into the future – Outstanding.      $35

 

 

 

 

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