2013 Ridge has been my bane, Rousten Cab Franc over-oaked

Having been drinking Ridge since the 1991 vintage, I feel like 2013 is when they jumped the shark. Pretty much every wine I’ve had from that vintage - and that’s many, from the Zins to the Cabs - have been way over-oaked. Perhaps Geyserville is the exception. I do like that Geezer.

I was super excited to try a Cab Franc from Monte Bello Vineyards. Some of you know that I’m a Loire Cab Franc fan. It’s not that I expect New World CF to taste like Loire, but sheez, I certainly don’t want my CF to taste like vanilla and dill. The pronounced American Oak obscures the wonderful nuances, and savory and herbal qualities, that CF has. I will say, there is a delicious sexy quality to this wine but it’s like one glass max, then way to OTT for my clunky palate. Gorgeous fruit enveloped in oak. I just checked the winery website, it’s 100% new oak for 20 mos. Why why why?

I’m not even sure how to rate a wine like this. I don’t want to drink it.

Paired this with a gorgeous, 28 ounce Flannery Jorge steak - in homage to our moderators - reverse seared medium-rare on the rare side. I moved on to a Levet that I popped last night.


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I just don’t get Ridge anymore. Every single cuvee I tasted tastes like chewing on a piece of American oak barrel. Loyalists argue that it’ll integrate, but I don’t see how or when that’ll be given such intrusive level of oak. Shame.

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More Ridge for me!

I would agree. They have slowly increased the American oak to what is now obscene levels. A shame, really, as I’ve consumed a lot from the 70’s onward that I loved, but not really interested anymore as a result of the change.

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Every pre-2013 Ridge I’ve drank has been stellar. My 2021 WOTY was the 2011 Ridge Pagani Ranch

Robert I agree. I pulled a '13 estate Cab last year after seeing some nice cellartracker notes and it was a total oak bomb. Planning to give the rest of these the MB treatment i.e. cellar for 30-40 years.

Interesting, Robert. We have not had the 2013 Rousten, but have had the 2013 Torre Cab and greatly prefer the 2014 vintage for the Torre. We have had the 2013 Geyserville and agree that it is very good. And, for my palate, the 2013 Monte Bello is one of the best that I have had. And we do continue to buy Ridge.

BTW, the Flannery Jorge looks fantastic! What did everyone else eat? [cheers.gif]

I don’t ever remember tasting a Ridge Zin (or the couple of Monte Bellos I’ve tasted) without oak. After all, the term Draper perfume is not a new one. It has seemed more intrusive as the years have gone by, but I have marked that down to my increasingly oak averse palate.

Jonathan you and I seem to have very similar palates - yes, even on CDP! Ok, yours is more refined of course! I think it is both a more pronounced use of oak, especially in the few years leading up to and including 2013, but also a palate issue as well. I cannot even drink Rioja these days. It’s both, to me.

No doubt this is the Draper perfume, but does seem to be less pronounced on the Geyserville.


My big boy was in town, that 210-pounder can eat! We spent the day at Bay Hill so worked up quite an appetite.

I have had two bottles of the 2013 Torre Cab, I think it’s 100% new oak as well. It’s an oak bomb. I have four left, I basically stuck them in the dark recesses of storage, largely forgetting them.

I have basically stopped buying Ridge, even Geyserville. A partner of mine gave me three bottles of the 2018 Estate Cab, will serve them to guests that like Cali Cabs.

On the principle that Zin was the John Wayne of wines and should be enjoyed as one enjoys John Wayne (at least when he is in the hands of a good director), looking for its outsized features, I long tolerated oak on Ridge Zins. But I wasn’t a regular buyer. After some years of lapse, I bought some 18 Geyservilles. I won’t buy any more. I’ve decided that John Wayne in the hands of a good director is more like Scherrer–still big, but not a cartoon version of itself.

Have you tried Sky Zins? Love them.

I’ll have to look out for it. As I have said before, I have you to thank for introducing me to Lanessan.

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Great thread on (for me) the bummer topic of my favorite American winery changing styles.

Like many of us, Geyserville is my favorite Ridge wine although I’ve had many truly spectacular Ridge cabs from the 70s and 80’s. When Ridge stopped making cabs from York Creek and Jimsomare, they lost something for my tastes that their new cabs (Klein, Torre, and others) didn’t replace. And I haven’t really found Monte Bello to be revelatory, as it never seems ready and/or it is overoaked.

My simple math is — non-bordeaux varietals stand up much better to the American oak, and Geyserville is my fav zin-based Ridge, so I buy that (though reports that the 18 Geezer is OTT are scary). My last cabs from Ridge are from 2013, apropos this thread.

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What was the last vintage Draper oversaw? I always thought Draper represented the best of California winemakers; I have a bottle of 2013 LS in my kitchen (drink now) chiller.

The discussions of Ridge and oak usage are always interesting - with many defending the winery and claiming that the wines do not show exuberant amounts of oak and others who are dismayed.

I think that as others have said, American oak has its place in their line up. It seems to me that in their lineup, it works well with Monte Bello, their other cab, their zins and their PS. When it comes to other rhones and, apparently cab franc, it sticks out like a sore thumb . . .


I thought they have used 100% American oak forever. Has the char changed?

On which wine?

The percentage varies on many of the wines. And yes, some, like MB, tend to be 100%.

Just checked on the website, and for the Rousten Cab Franc, 2013 and 2017 are 100% new and 2016 is 60% new. The website shows no other vintages of this wine.

By comparison, the 2013 Estate Cab is 48% new and 42% one year. The 2013 Monte Bello is 100% new. Geyserville is 20% new with only 12 months in barrel.

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I too quit buying Ridge but in 2015. Way too much oak for me. And the question is did they change? They certainly seemed to.

According to the tours I’ve had at Ridge and various blogs, Draper “shared” wine making duties with Eric Baugher for years, as he tapered his involvement. Here’s an official timeline: “Over the years as I stepped back from day to day operations, I named Eric winemaker for Monte Bello in 2001.” Draper retired officially in 2016.

Not a lot to parse there in terms of obvious changes in leadership and changes in oak.