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

That makes a lot of sense. I was going to say that I opened the first of my 2016 last year, and it didn’t seem out of balance as far as oak is concerned.

I don’t have a 2013 to compare, but will likely try a 2010 soon-ish. Vines were young at a the time, not sure if/how that factored into the oak treatment then. My perception is that the overall style has not changed drastically in the Draper/Baugher transition period. There certainly is variation from vintage to vintage of course.

By and large, this was my experience at least up through 2016. I recall a thread a while back where we were discussing if alcohol has gotten more elevated in Ridge cabs, so out if curiosity I went and looked at Monte Bello cabs from 71-present and to my surprise alcohol swung dramatically from vintage to vintage through the decades.

Klein is Jimsomare.

He’s still there, as much as he can manage. Certainly a voice in the blending trials/assemblage process for Monte Bello.

As someone whose tasting experience with young Ridge wines goes back to the mid-'90s, I do not see a stylistic change from '91 on. There are bigger vintage variations than practically any other CA winery, with ABV of a wine varying by 3% and the makeup of blends being quite different from one year to the next. That spurs Chicken Little threads now and then. People did that with the '01 Monte Bello, which is still, by far, the highest ABV vintage, assuming it marked some tragic stylistic shift. No, just picking to make the best wine in an unusual vintage. (Just had one Friday. The youthful exuberance is gone, which atypically I’d loved on that wine, and it’s on its way half-way to its peak. First Growth CA from a great vintage.)

Sure, American oak is a signature. Their Rhones stand out as something different. I think part of some peoples’ issue is they don’t understand where the peak on Ridge wine is, so they drink them too young, the oak hasn’t integrated, so they think it won’t. Try a '90s era Syrah. It has. Others are just hyper-sensitive to American oak and complain about it standing out in '70s era Monte Bello. Then why jump into theads to complain over and over? I’ve suggested several times they try Montebello ridge Cabs from other excellent producers (Arnot Roberts, I. Brand…) who use French oak, but don’t see notes on those. There’s also the nearby Mount Eden Vineyard. The Mount Eden Cab is better than ever, and the separately trained and managed Peter Martin Ray blocks are shining (the '17 Birichino and '16 Ceritas are coming around and showing their world-class). I hear there are plenty of other Zins, Rhones, Chards, etc. being made in CA.

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We’ve had this discussion before, lol:

Klein ≈ Jimsomare, but not quite (according to online info). How closely they match, I don’t know, it depends on how much of the (best) formerly-Jimsomare fruit Ridge is putting into the Monte Bello Historic Vines, Torre Ranch, and Steep Terraces bottlings.

Klein has never really tasted for me like a Jimsomare cab — it seems bigger, oaker, riper. Still very good, and to be fair I never tried a Jimsomare cab with less than 12 years of age. Jury is out IMHO if these Klein’s will morph into something more elegant a la the Jimsomares of old. But I usually don’t bet against the aging ability of Ridge wines!

Rousten is part of their Historic Vineyard Series. That’s for parcels that don’t make the Monte Bello cut, but show distinct and high quality, so get bottled as a SVD rather than going into the Estate. The oak decision is made months before the assemblage process begins, so it’s more a best guess for what each lot that looks like it could make Monte Bello needs to best contribute to that blend, rather than aiming to make it as a stand alone. None of these is made every year.

As far as '13 goes, my early impression was this would be a longer than typical ager. It shouldn’t be a surprise they’re made so the oak integrates near peak. Even if that were a poor vintage, peak is a long way off.

I stick with my “don’t even think about opening this until” rule. 10 years for lesser reds and Chard. 20 years for most others. 30 years for Monte Bello. Adjust upward.
Or, interpret the back label guidance as follows: “Drinks well now. Should continue to improve over the next 8 to 12 years.” means don’t think about opening your first bottle for at least 12 years.


Thanks for the comments. And I agree that perhaps folks don’t wait long enough to allow things to integrate . . .but to many, that is a ‘challenge’. The same could be said for so many aspects of so many different characteristics and wines, but the reality is that a wine will be evaluated in the ‘here and now’ by most folks.

I would not say that I am hyper-sensitive to American oak, but when I have a relatively young Ridge Grenache or Syrah, it just sticks out too much. And when a winery releases a wine Into the public, unless they specifically state so, they have to assume folks will open them upon receipt, no?


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There is a lot of really good stuff packed into this comment, thank you. I love the Mount Eden wines. I have been meeting to try the I. Brand wines, but the two times that I’ve reached out to them, I got no response. That said, I do not understand your criticism of the criticism. If all we did on this website is applaud wineries and never criticize, it would be a very boring website. Had somebody like a Pat Martin posted a note on the wine I just popped, or told me that the oak signature of obscured the varietal, I never would’ve spent $95 on this one wine. Criticism and opinions, negative or positive, are very important to the very lifeblood of this website. That the criticism is over a legendary American winery and winemaker, or a board favorite, should not matter.

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Yes. But, with Ridge wines a lot of people like them young, where they’re big and showy. I respect them for making wines that play to different preferences by maturity. They wouldn’t be so successful just making wines that need time to show well. Us old timers with more classic palates can sit back and wait, the same way we do with Burgs, Bdx, Barolo, etc.

My criticism is that, while Ridge is a board favorite, the continued pounding from people complaining about the oak has worn out the fans, so they don’t bother replying in yet another thread on the same same same topic. That leads to a very skewed perception of a (small) minority opinion being the dominant opinion. So, it’s about weird obsession and endurance.

The seven CT notes on this wine are a love fest. I’d agree a note in the mix there with a dissenting view would be helpful.

The term “Draper perfume” was coined by geo t more than twenty years ago and was used to describe the characteristic aromatic profile of the Ridge wines from the 90s and earlier. It was never intended to describe a particular oak regimen nor to suggest a preponderance of wood in the aromatics and flavors of the wines.

For the record, and anyone tallying votes, I’ve loved the '18 Lytton Springs and Geyserville since release. No complaints about too much oak.

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Totally disagree.

You could posit the exact opposite, that dissenters are afraid to dissent because of this, and being contrarian. I think we should call balls and strikes, and not be afraid to say it. Not many notes here on this Cab Franc, I’m not pulling punches. I’m not ITB.

I noticed I was even moderating myself recently on a wine I like very much, the Halcon Alturas. I was not thrilled with the 2019. Sure it’s a baby and sure it needs time, but this was a much larger-scaled wine that my normal experience with them. Your reference to CT doesn’t really resonate with me, those are normally glowing. I did see Carnes’ note on this Halcon, he was spot on, but kind, reading between the lines.

I bet if you tallied up the posts on Ridge, they are 10:1 positive or better.

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Could not agree more.


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Same here.

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If you were right, then the “too much American oak” posts on this thread would be outnumbered 10:1.


I didn’t criticize your note. I have no issue with people who’ve actually tasted the wine chiming in, or people who have anything constructive to contribute. Just noting that for the last few years it seems like every Ridge thread has a bunch of people feel compelled to jump in and say how they don’t drink Ridge wine any more. It’s bandwagon behavior that sucks the air out of the room.

Anyway, this is from a series of limited production wines sold mostly to Monte Bello Collectors, and then the tasting rooms and website if there’s any left. So, aside from the smaller production, a good portion of the people buying them know how long to wait before opening.

Tell me more about that hunk of steak. How’d you prepare it?


Ha, I guess like drinking this wine, ask someone that knows what they are doing!

I just followed the pros….


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