The Ridge Vineyards Spring 2019 releases are out. They feature 4 red wines and 1 white wine. And, true to form, they are all delicious wines with the typical Ridge character, balance, and appeal (to read a recent Ridge Vineyards article with notes on some of the wines released last year as well as information on ingredient labeling and links to all previous Ridge Vineyards articles click here ).
New releases from Ridge Vineyards are always a treat. Year after year Ridge Vineyards produces gorgeous, balanced, food-friendly wines that can be consumed young and also can age effortlessly for years. When it comes to Ridge it is easy to get carried away. Ridge Vineyards was founded in 1885 and its modern history dates back to 1960. It was in the late 1960s that I first became acquainted with Ridge wines and recognized that they were very special. For over 50 years I have been buying, drinking, and cellaring them. Ridge Vineyards wines in my cellar today date back into the 1960s. And, I have more Ridge Vineyards wines in my cellar than any other wine. I drink the wines often and can honestly say that I have never had a bad bottle of Ridge. But I have enjoyed more great bottles than I could ever possibly remember. This is an extraordinary combination. And, what I do know is that Ridge Vineyards is a unique American winery with a portfolio of world class wines that are consistently great. The wines are made in a traditional way without any manipulation or additives and all the ingredients in the wines are shown on the label. Without question Ridge is the real deal.
That pretty well sums it up. If you don’t know Ridge Vineyards you do not know what you are missing. So, I would advise that it’s better late than never. Now is the time to get started. And, if you are a Ridge fan, don’t miss these new releases! They include the 2017 Chardonnay Estate and the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate as well as the 2017 Geyserville and the 2017 East Bench Zinfandel and the 2017 Paso Robles Zinfandel. All of these wines are great and include some of the best wines ever from these vineyards.
2017 Ridge Chardonnay Estate
In recent years Ridge Chardonnays have shown improvement and are now consistently great. This latest 2017 Estate Chardonnay is a prime example. Nine parcels from the Monte Bello estate vineyard were picked in early September and were barrel fermented separately. The most elegant with the finest fruit were selected to make this Chardonnay which winemaker Eric Braugher describes as superb. The 2017 vintage showed reduced yields and the summer was mostly foggy and cool. Ripeness was slowed which produced greater flavor and firmer acidity. The 2017 production was 2,750 cases.
This 2017 Estate Chardonnay, made from 100% Monte Bello Chardonnay fruit, is very light yellow in color with a fabulous perfume showing exotic tropical nuances accented by floral notes and a tinge of citrus. Very elegant and finesseful, but with intensity and flavor the wine has exotic tropical complexity and is beautifully balanced with a nice underlying citrus tinge. As Eric says this is a superb California Chardonnay which is stunningly delicious now with great early appeal. Without question, this is truly a stand out Chardonnay that should not be missed – Outstanding Plus. $55
2016 Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Estate
The Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon can be described as a baby Monte Bello. This 2016 was made by combining lots with appealing fruit and elegance from the Monte Bello Estate vineyard. It is comprised of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. The 2016 production was 5,900 cases. The wine has a dark color with a deep perfume showing Cassis like fruit with tinges of cedar and spice. It is flavorful and beautifully balanced and full of fruit with good underlying structure. While, the wine can be enjoyed now it will round out with a few years bottle age and keep for many years into the future – Outstanding Plus. $65
2017 Ridge Geyserville
This is a brief edited summary of Geyserville as provided by Ridge: Ridge has made Geyserville in every vintage since 1966. The oldest parcels in the vineyard are a classic 19th-century field blend with zinfandel and carignane predominant. Geyserville was the first California zinfandel since the late 1930s to be made as a “fine wine.” Ridge began as a producer of cabernet in 1962, and beginning in 1966, they used the same traditional, pre-industrial techniques with the Geyserville grapes as they did with Monte Bello. Both were picked within the small window of ideal ripeness, fermented on their natural yeasts, and barrel-aged. Handled as though they were cabernet, the Geyservilles of the early seventies proved that Geyserville was one of the best sites for growing zinfandel in California—or anywhere else. In 1990, after buying the grapes for twenty-four years, Ridge signed a thirty-two-year lease on Whitton Ranch with its owners, the Trentadue family. This allowed Ridge to take over farming, and to designate the Geyserville grapes as
“estate grown.” However, the risk remained that when the lease ended, Ridge could lose access to one of California’s greatest zinfandel sites. But in 2016 Ridge purchased Whitton Ranch—the
thirty-six acres of vineyard land that, over the years, have provided the grapes for this wine. This assures that Geyserville will be forever Ridge.
Ridge has also said this about Geyserville: At Geyserville, “Old Patch” provides the wine’s backbone. This four-and-a-half-acre parcel imparts great depth and exotic fruit flavors. These—Geyserville’s oldest vines—were planted in 1891. They are a field blend comprised of 35% carignane, 26% zinfandel, 19% alicante bouschet, 9% mataro, 7% petite sirah, and 4% “other.” Other, in this case, can be a number of things, including cinsault, grand noir, grenache noir, black muscat, peloursin, burger, petite bouschet, aubin, syrah, bastardo, valdiguié, mortaou, criolla mediana #2, and a half-dozen or so table-grape varietals. Geyserville’s individual character is often attributed to its relatively high percentage of old-vine carignane. However, the site itself is by far the most important element defining the wine.
I have a standing order for Geyserville and have been buying it every year for many years. I drink the wines regularly and have a lot of old ones in my cellar. This is one wine that consistently tastes great young and also is great after decades of bottle age. And, Geyserville is one of the wines that we have enjoyed with our Thanksgiving meal for many, many years. It is truly a magnificent and unique California wine.
Having said that, winemaker Eric Braugher calls 2017 a superb vintage for Geyserville. This is spot on. The 2017 production was 9,500 cases. Don’t miss this wine!
In 2017 24 parcels were picked and fermented separately. Those showing the strongest varietal character were chosen for this great Geyserville. It is comprised of 68% Zinfandel, 18% Carignane, 12% Petite Sirah, and 2% Alicante Bouchet. Dark in color the wine has a deep complex perfume of plum and cassis fruit with a faint exotic tinge and a kiss of spice. On the palate it is supple, lush, and loaded with fruit showing a myriad of black fruit flavors with a faint exotic tinge which are intermingled with spice nuances. And, while the wine is delicious now, it also has a good underlying structure that will allow it to evolve over decades – Extraordinary. $45 Best Buy
2017 Ridge East Bench Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley
This 20 acre parcel was planted to Zinfandel in 1999. The 2017 production was 5,300 cases. Winemaker John Olney had this to say about the wine: “In 2017 the vines set a short crop with smaller clusters than usual, resulting in one of the most concentrated wines we have made from East Bench.” And, I would add that I think that this is the best East Bench Zinfandel that I can remember tasting. It is dark in color with a deep berry perfume showing a briary tinge with very faint hints of chocolate and spice. On the palate the wine is brimming with fruit showing richness, depth, and balance. Make no mistake this is a great red wine and a great Zinfandel that can be enjoyed now or for many years into the future. With summer just around the corner, this is just the ticket for a red wine to enjoy with your summer barbeque. And, it is a great value – Outstanding Plus. $32 Best Buy
2017 Ridge Paso Robles Zinfandel
In 2017 abundant winter rains ended the 5 year drought but storms during bloom reduced the crop. The 2017 production was 3,500 cases. A blend of three Zinfandel parcels from the old Benito Dusi ranch produced a classic Zinfandel with great balance, intensity, and depth. This is surely one of the best Zinfandels ever from this venerable property. Dark in color with a great perfume of black fruits with a faint exotic spice quality. On the palate the wine has layers of fruit showing hints of chocolate with a faint exotic tinge. Rich, lush, and balanced this is a delicious full throttle Zinfandel to drink now and for some years into the future. And, like the great 2017 East Bench, this is a great wine for upcoming summer barbeques – Outstanding Plus. $35 Best Buy