TN: Ridge mini-verticals (Lytton Springs, Geyserville, Estate Cab)

Usually I throw tastings once or twice every month, but last year I only managed to have a small handful of them (it seems the trend continues as I write) - this tasting was one of the few of them.

For this tasting I decided to pool most of the Ridge wines I had gathered over the years. On the one hand, it was interesting to have them at one go, so we could actually compare the wines to each other - especially since most of them had already some age so they were not youngsters anymore - but on the other hand, it was a shame letting them all go, as we really get so very little Ridge nowadays. Most of these wines were actually bought in Finland (something I rarely do, as the prices are ridiculously high and the selection sucks) but it seems those days are gone. We get a handful of Monte Bellos every now and then, but that’s about it. Rarely we might see a Lytton Spring and I can’t remember the last time we had a Geyserville (it was probably that 2012 vintage). Some labels still make their way to the EU, but they are getting so rare and expensive that very rarely I bother. I guess Ridge has just gotten so popular stateside that there’s not enough bottles to go around for us?

Anyways, I assume everybody is familiar with Ridge so I don’t need to write any kind of introduction here.

As for the tasting, the main tasting was split into four parts: a) The Randoms, b) Lytton Springs, c) Geyserville, d) Estate Cabs. And, as virtually always, we also had e) The blind bottles the attendees had brought with them.

.
ridge.jpg
.

  • 2012 Ridge Zinfandel East Bench - USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley (27.11.2021)
    100% Zinfandel from the East Bench vineyard in Dry Creek Valley. Fermented spontaneously. Aged for 12-13 months in American oak (20% new, 40% second or third use, 40% fourth or fifth use). 14,9% alcohol.

Luminous and slightly translucent blood-red color. Expressive and slightly sweetish nose with aromas of ripe boysenberries and brambly blackberries, some vanilla oak, a little bit of clove, light blueberry tones, a Rhône-ish hint of garrigue and a touch of exotic spices. The wine feels rich, sweet-toned and full-bodied on the palate with juicy and quite impactful flavors of boysenberry jam, some soft dark plum tones, a little bit of peppery spice, light sweetly-spiced notes of cloves, a hint of toasty oak and a touch of cocktail cherry. The medium-to-moderately high acidity lends good sense of balance to the wine while the ample yet ripe and quite friendly tannins lend some nice firmness to the palate. The finish is rich and sweet-toned with gently gripping tannins and a long aftertaste of boysenberry jam, some cherry marmalade, light vanilla tones, a little bit of blueberry, a hint of clove and a touch of dark, plummy fruit. The rather high alcohol lends a little bit of warmth to the aftertaste.

A nice, balanced and quite impactful Zinfandel with lots of ripe fruit, some oak influence and nice sense of structure. Although the wine is quite ripe and sweet-toned for a Ridge wine, the wine nevertheless shows good sense of balance and harmony for a Zinfandel. I was quite surprised how relatively little this wine had evolved since my last taste +7 years ago - it was still quite youthful with no obvious signs of maturity. I’d say the wine had picked up a tad of finesse and dropped a little bit of its sweetest primary fruit without losing one smidgen of its power and intensity. At the age of 9 years this still shows good potential for future development. Good stuff, priced according to its quality at 32,90€. (90 pts.)

.

  • 2015 Ridge Petite Sirah Lytton Estate - USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley (27.11.2021)
    100% Petite Sirah from the Lytton Springs vineyard in Dry Creek Valley. The harvest started with Petite Sirah on 21st of August, 2015 and ending on 12th of September. Fermented spontaneously as whole bunches, macerated with the skins for 5 days, aged in American oak (20% new, 40% second or third use, 40% fourth, fifth or sixth use) for 12 months. 13% alcohol.

Dense, fully opaque blackish-red color with a youthful blueish hue. Remarkably closed and reticent nose with subtle aromas of fresh dark fruits, some sappy herbal tones, a little bit of wizened black cherry, light blueberry tones, a hint of vanilla oak and a touch of pipe tobacco. The wine is dry, firm and restrained on the palate with a medium body and dry flavors of fresh blueberries and crunchy crowberries, some sappy herbal tones, a little bit of ripe plummy fruit, light juicy cherry tones, a hint of toasty oak spice and a touch of mocha. The wine feels a bit lean with its combination of light fruit flavors, high acidity and quite assertive, grippy medium-plus tannins. The finish is long, moderately grippy and quite ripe yet still dry with flavors of fresh blueberries and dark plums, some vanilla tones, a little bit of sappy herbal spice, light toasty oak notes and a hint of elderberry.

A wonderfully serious, fresh and not-clumsy Petite Sirah that manages to avoid the typical pitfalls of the variety: too much ripeness and excessive extraction. However, it is painfully obvious that the wine is years - if not decades - too young for consumption. The style is delightfully structure-driven, precise and crunchy, but the overall feel is super tightly-knit and the fruit department is mute as a carp, giving initially very little and even after an hour or two remaining very reticent. This wine really does need lots of age, I’d heartily recommend giving it some 8-10 years or even more, as it is in a very dumb phase at the moment, giving very little pleasure if opened now. If you’re looking for a rich, supple and fruit-forward Sonoma wine here, keep looking - this wine it ain’t. Perhaps a bit pricey for the quality at 39,95€, but things might change if the wine continues to evolve and improve over the years. (88 pts.)

.

  • 1994 Ridge Petite Sirah York Creek - USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District (27.11.2021)
    Petite Sirah (93%) and Zinfandel (7%) from the York Creek vineyard in Napa Valley. Fermented spontaneously, a portion of the grapes as uncrushed, whole bunches, aged in used American oak barrels. 12,7% alcohol.

Deep, remarkably dense and almost fully opaque yet not noticeably concentrated blackish-red color. The nose feels somewhat restrained and moderately evolved with dry aromas of raisiny dark fruit, some coffee tones, a little bit of blackberry marmalade, light meaty notes, oxidative hints of soy sauce and a touch of earth. The wine is evolved and somewhat tertiary yet still surprisingly lively on the palate with a medium body and rather intense flavors of wizened dark berries, meaty umami, some ripe chokeberry tones, a little bit of beef jerky, light oxidative notes of soy sauce, a hint of tobacco and a touch of savory old wood spice. The overall feel is quite firm and structured, thanks to the rather high acidity and still quite assertive yet not aggressive tannins. The finish is rich yet dry and rather grippy with long, savory flavors of raisiny dark fruits, some meaty umami, a little bit of wizened blackcurrant and blackberry, light yet somewhat noticeable streak of chokeberry bitterness, a hint of earth and an oxidative touch of beef jerky.

An excellent, wonderfully evolved Petite Sirah made in a very stern and dead-serious old world style. The wine is definitely not about fruit and richness, but instead about savory complexity and structure. There’s no way one could call this a crowdpleaser, but if one finds enjoyment in leaner old wines like old-school Bordeaux, this is very much cut from the same cloth. This is not a wine that is built to be impressive, but instead one to age for a long time and pair well with food. As the wine was somewhat restrained upon opening, I recommend letting it breathe for an hour or so and then pairing it with dishes that can tone down the structure and the slightly bitter elements in the taste. I found the wine to be very rewarding despite its rather tough nature, but I doubt it will age much from here. Drink or keep, but don’t expect it to evolve much. Priced according to its quality at 58€. (93 pts.)

.

  • 2015 Ridge Lytton Springs - USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley (27.11.2021)
    A blend of Zinfandel (74%), Petite Sirah (16%), Carignan (8%) and Mourvèdre (2%) from the Lytton Springs vineyard in Dry Creek Valley. The harvest started on 17st of August, the earliest ever, and ended on 15th of September. Fermented spontaneously, Petite Sirah in whole bunches, macerated with the skins for 8 days. The wine was blended using 24 separate fermentation lots, selected from a total of 33 different ferments. Aged in American oak (15% new, 45% second, third or fourth use, 40% fifth or sixth use) for 14 months. 14,5% alcohol.

Somewhat translucent black cherry color with a youthful, subtly purplish hue. The nose feels sweetish and fragrant with fruit-driven aromas of boysenberries, some blueberries, light plummy tones, a little bit of ripe blackcurrant, a sweet oaky hint of clove and a touch of savory wood spice. The wine feels ripe yet savory, full-bodied and somewhat extracted - even slightly chewy - on the palate without coming across as heavy or clumsy. Open, juicy flavors of boysenberries and bilberries, some succulent notes of dark plums, a little bit of vanilla oak, light floral notes of elderflowers, a sweet hint of toasty oak spice and clove and a fresh touch of dark bramble. The high alcohol lends a little bit of warmth to the palate while the moderately high acidity and ripe medium tannins keep the wine balanced and moderately structured. The slightly sweetish finish feels ripe and juicy with a quite long aftertaste of bilberries and elderberries, some toasty oak spice, a little bit of boysenberry, light spicy notes of vanilla and cloves and a hint of black raspberry jam.

A rich, ripe and juicy vintage of Lytton Springs. The wine feels very approachable - almost a crowdpleaser - with its rather lush and somewhat sweetish fruit department, but there’s enough balance, structure and depth of flavor to keep things interesting. The overall feel is still very youthful and most likely this wine will continue to improve for many years more, seeing how very little evolution the wine shows now at 6 years of age. Not my favorite vintage of Lytton Springs, thanks to its somewhat sweetish, almost overtly fruit-forward nature, but a very enjoyable wine all the same. Hopefully additional cellaring would make the wine drop its plush, sweet-toned baby fat and make it come across as a bit more savory and slightly less oaky (even if the wine isn’t particularly oaky to begin with). Perhaps a bit pricey for the quality at 39,98€. (90 pts.)

.

  • 2014 Ridge Lytton Springs - USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley (27.11.2021)
    A blend of Zinfandel (69%), Petite Sirah (18%), Carignan (11%) and Mourvèdre (2%) from the Lytton Springs vineyard in Dry Creek Valley. The harvest started on 27th of August and ended on 16th of September. Fermented spontaneously, Petite Sirah in whole bunches, macerated with the skins for 8 days. The wine was blended using 25 separate fermentation lots, selected from a total of 34 different ferments. Aged in American oak (20% new, 60% second, third or fourth use, 20% fifth or sixth use) for 13 months. 14,4% alcohol.

Somewhat translucent yet quite deep, blackish cherry-red color. Quite savory but also very expressive nose with layered aromas of boysenberries, some Christmas-y notes of baking spices, a little bit of elderberry, light oaky notes of cedar, a hint of chopped green herbs and a touch of meaty character. The wine is lively, juicy and moderately full-bodied on the palate with intense flavors of ripe bilberries and fresh plums, some boysenberry tones, light herbal tones that tip-toe the fine line between Provencal garrigue and chopped green herbs, a little bit of woody cedar, a hint of vanilla and a toasty touch of mocha. The overall feel is wonderfully firm and structured with the high acidity and rather grippy and quite assertive tannins. The finish is ripe yet dry with moderate tannic grip and a juicy, intense aftertaste of bilberries, black cherries, some garrigue, light oaky notes of vanilla and cloves, a little bit of woody cedar, a succulent hint of dark plums and a touch of peppery spice.

This was a terrific, surprisingly serious and structure-driven vintage of Lytton Springs, a far cry from the noticeably fruitier and sweeter 2015 vintage. This wine has seen a bit less of that older, more neutral oak, and it does show, but the wine itself packs remarkable intensity, freshness and focus, which carries the oaky imprint with poise. The vintage seems a bit cooler compared to the surrounding vintages, which might explain the slightly herbal notes that hover in the vague, gray area between chopped green herbs and sun-drenched Provencal garrigue. All in all, this is a very fine and rewarding vintage of Lytton Springs that is still a mere baby and really calls for further cellaring - not only to soften that tightly-knit structure, but to integrate the woodier notes a bit better with the ripe yet enjoyable fresh and dry fruit. A superb Sonoma red and great value at 39,98€. (93 pts.)

.

  • 2009 Ridge Lytton Springs - USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley (27.11.2021)
    A blend of Zinfandel (71%), Petite Sirah (23%) and Carignan (6%) from the Lytton Springs vineyard in Dry Creek Valley. The harvest started on 11th of September and ended on 4th of October. Fermented spontaneously, macerated with the skins for 8 days. The wine was blended using 23 separate fermentation lots, selected from a total of 34 different ferments. Aged in American oak (18% new, 57% second, third or fourth use, 20% fifth or sixth use) for 14 months. 14,5% alcohol.

Somewhat translucent yet rather deep and dark black cherry-red color. The nose feels a bit restrained for a Lytton Springs, but also showing good sense of harmony and integration, exhibiting lovely aromas of ripe raspberries and blackberries, some bilberry tones, a little bit of juicy cherry, light oaky notes of cloves and woody spice, a hint of dark plum and a sweeter, evolved touch of dried dark fruits. The overall impression is somewhat sweet-toned but also enjoyably fine-tuned and showing less oak than the younger vintages. The wine feels silky, ripe and somewhat sweetly-fruited on the palate with a full body and vibrant flavors of boysenberry jam and stewed dark plums, some bilberry tones, a little bit of mocha oak, light evolved notes of meaty umami, a hint of toasty wood spice and a faint floral touch of elderflower. The wine is enjoyably high in acidity with a moderately firm tannic backbone. The finish is ripe yet somewhat savory with moderate tannic grip and quite lengthy flavors of ripe bilberries and blackberries, some plummy tones, a little bit of evolved meaty character, light boysenberry tones, a floral hint of elderflower and a faint oaky touch of vanilla and cloves.

A wonderful, harmonious and enjoyably structured vintage of Lytton Springs that is slowly gliding into its optimum drinking window. Ridge often states that Lytton Springs will evolve for 10-15 years, but at 12 years of age this wine feels like it is only starting to hit its stride; it is exhibiting only its first evolved characteristics, the structure hasn’t gone anywhere and there is still some oak that could integrate further with the fruit department - although I’m very happy how for the most part the oak has seemed to disappear into the background, when tasting this back-to-back with the 2014 and 2015 vintages. Although this wine is drinking mighty well right now, I’d say it will continue to improve for a good number of years more and probably will drink just fine for another 12-15 years, if not longer. While not as impressive as promising as the 2014 vintage, this doesn’t really fall much behind. Smashing stuff, expect the score to slowly inch up as the wine ages. (92 pts.)

.

  • 2016 Ridge Geyserville - USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley (27.11.2021)
    A blend of organically farmed Zinfandel (73%), Carignan (17%), Petite Sirah (7%) and Alicante Bouschet (3%) from the Geyserville vineyard in Alexander Valley. The harvest started on 6th of September and ended on 30th of September. Fermented spontaneously, macerated with the skins for 9 days. Aged in American oak (20% new, 6% second use, 9% third use and 65% older) for 12 months. 14,5% alcohol.

Slightly translucent black cherry color with a youthful, subtly blueish hue. Cool and surprisingly green-toned nose with sappy aromas of stemmy greenness and green peppercorns, ripe blackberries, some juicy red plums, a little bit of woody oak spice, light crunchy notes of fresh red berries, a hint of garrigue and a touch of sweet yet peppery Zinfandel spice. The wine feels ripe, juicy and silky on the palate with a full body and vibrant flavors of brambly black raspberries, some toasty wood spice, light sweet notes of blackberry marmalade and ripe bilberries, a little bit of succulent dark plummy fruit, a hint of vanilla oak and a sappy touch of slightly herbaceous greenness. The overall feel is quite structured with the rather high acidity and firm, moderately grippy tannins, while the somewhat alcohol lends a bit of warmth to the palate. The finish is ripe, slightly sweet-toned and gently grippy with a long aftertaste of boysenberries, some blueberry tones, a little bit of savory wood spice, light oaky notes of vanilla and sweet, toasty wood, a hint of savory brown spices and a touch of fresh bramble.

A classically built, firm and quite enjoyable Geyserville - even if there was a subtle green note that lend a slightly atypical, yet not distracting nuance of herbaceous greenness. I don’t know if it was just slightly herbaceous fruit, some stemmy character, slightly green-toned American oak or something else, but there was definitely something slightly green-toned amidst all the ripe yet surprisingly fresh and precise fruit. Overall the wine shows good balance between the vibrant fruit, nice sense of structure and judiciously restrained oak character, but there’s no denying that this is a very young wine. While drinking really well already now, this wine is bound to improve with age, based on how youthful it still is and how it feels like it is brimming with aging potential. I’d let the wine age for at least another 5-8 years more. Good stuff, solid value at 35,96€. (91 pts.)

.

  • 2012 Ridge Geyserville - USA, California, Sonoma County (27.11.2021)
    A blend of organically farmed Zinfandel (71%), Carignan (19%), Petite Sirah (7%), Nourvèdre (2%) and Alicante Bouschet (3%) from the Geyserville vineyard in Alexander Valley. The harvest started on 17th of September and ended on 17th of October. Fermented spontaneously, macerated with the skins for 9 days. Six lots were macerated with a submerged cap, the remaining lots received pump-overs. Aged in American oak (24% new, 25% second and third use and 51% older) for 13 months. 14,4% alcohol.

Quite deep and dark ruby-red color that permits a little light through. Dark-toned and very slightly sappy nose with aromas of ripe dark plums and boysenberries, some blueberry tones, a little bit of something that reminds me of mustard, light sappy notes of stemmy greenness, a hint of savory oak spice and a faint leafy touch of birch leaves. The nose feels quite distinctive and rather singular in our vertical, exhibiting both dark-toned fruit aromas and subtly green-toned nuances. The wine feels ripe, juicy and moderately full-bodied on the palate with a taste that is slightly sweetish yet still dry and savory at the same tame. There are quite intense flavors of juicy plums and ripe forest fruits, some fresh bilberry tones, a little bit of black cherry, light oaky notes of vanilla and cedary wood spice, sweet hints of strawberry jam and almost overripe blackcurrants and a faint lifted touch of sweet VA. The overall feel is quite fresh and structured, thanks to the rather high acidity and moderately grippy medium-plus tannins. The finish is rich and juicy and some tannic grip and a pretty lengthy aftertaste of ripe blackcurrants and sweet, soft black cherries, some oaky notes of cloves, vanilla and other sweet baking spice, a little bit of spicy cedar character, a hint of boysenberry marmalade and a faint lifted touch of VA.

A tasty, firm and quite structured vintage of Geyserville that feels a bit similar to the 2016 vintage with its faint green nuances in the nose, but otherwise shows a bit more depth, complexity and integration. Age has definitely done nothing but good to this wine; it feels a bit more mature and harmonious than the 2016 that was tasted alongside it, and the wine has lost the subtly lactic undertones and some of its baby fat it exhibited when I tasted the wine the last time some 5 years ago. It is definitely on the right tracks, and while it is drinking pretty well at the moment, I can see it improving with further cellaring. A quite terrific, harmonious and promising vintage of Geyserville, this. Priced according to its quality at 40,50€. (92 pts.)

.

  • 2011 Ridge Geyserville - USA, California, Sonoma County (27.11.2021)
    A blend of organically farmed Zinfandel (78%), Carignan (16%), Petite Sirah (4%), Alicante Bouschet (1%) and Mourvèdre (1%) from the Geyserville vineyard in Alexander Valley. The harvest started on 21st of September and ended on 2nd of October. Fermented spontaneously, macerated with the skins for 7 days. The wine was blended using 12 separate fermentation lots, selected from a total of 24 different ferments. Aged in American oak (24% new, 50% second and third use and 26% fourth and fifth use) for 12 months. 14,2% alcohol.

Slightly evolved and moderately translucent ruby-red color with a faint brick-red hue. Ripe, rich and very juicy nose of sweet dark fruits and slightly wizened plums, some boysenberry tones, a little bit of blackcurrant juice, light earthy notes, oaky hints of vanilla, cloves and toasty mocha character, an evolved touch of something meaty and a whiff of red cherries. The wine is ripe, silky and somewhat soft on the palate with a full body and somewhat sweetish flavors of wizened dark berries, some evolved meaty character, a little bit of cherry marmalade, light jammy notes of raspberries, oaky hints of toasty mocha and vanilla and a touch of dark pruney fruit. The wine is a bit on the soft side with its medium-to-moderately high acidity and quite ripe and mellow medium-minus tannins. The finish is ripe, juicy and slightly sweet-toned with nary a tannic bite and slightly brief flavors of raspberry jam and juicy dark plums, some vanilla oak, a little bit of boysenberry, light blueberry juice tones, a toasty hint of mocha oak and a touch of peppery spice. The alcohol makes the wine end on a subtly warming note while the tannins lend a bit of grip towards the end of the aftertaste.

A pleasant and surprisingly soft vintage of Geyserville that is quite nice on its own, but suffers a bit from comparison to the surrounding vintages of Geyserville. Although Ridge’s style is often quite “old world” when it comes to winemaking, this wine had a relatively “new world” feel to it when tasting it next to more savory, structure-driven and less oaky vintages. Here the oak use feels surprisingly pronounced and even after 10 years of aging the wine still exhibits quite a bit of vanilla and toast. Furthermore, the acidity feels surprisingly soft for a Geyserville (I wonder why - according to the data sheet - they had to use calcium carbonate to moderate the wine’s acidity, when it feels this is the lowest-acid vintage we tasted?) with very mellow tannins. All the other Geyservilles we tasted were still surprisingly youthful and brimming with further potential, whereas this wine felt markedly more evolved in character and perhaps closer to its apogee than any other vintage - so I guess the cooler, more rainy vintage shows here. Although the oak could use many more years to integrate better with the fruit, I don’t feel the wine will benefit much from further aging in any other way. All in all, I have a feeling this wine was a bit better in its exuberant youth than it was now. Feels a tad pricey for the quality at 40,70€. (89 pts.)

.

  • 2010 Ridge Geyserville - USA, California, Sonoma County (27.11.2021)
    A blend of organically farmed Zinfandel (64%), Carignan (20%), Petite Sirah (12%), Alicante Bouschet (2%) and Mourvèdre (2%) from the Geyserville vineyard in Alexander Valley. The harvest started on 18th of September and ended on 14th of October. Fermented spontaneously, macerated with the skins for 8 days. Aged in American oak (10% new, 12% second and third use and 78% fourth and fifth use) for 12 months. 14,3% alcohol.

Dark, somewhat translucent and still surprisingly youthful deep garnet color. Very intense, concentrated and characterful nose with intense aromas of juicy blackcurrants and elderberries, some ripe black cherry, light succulent notes of dark plums, a little bit of savory wood spice, fragrant hints of garrigue, violets and elderflowers, a touch of licorice root and a sweet whiff of strawberry jam. Lots of everything going on here! The wine is ripe, juicy and surprisingly concentrated on the palate, yet it never comes across as weighty or clumsy but instead surprisingly light on its feet despite its full body. Intense flavors of ripe blueberries and soft dark plums, some boysenberry tones, a little bit of peppery spice, light sweet notes of black cherries, a hint of elderberry juice and a touch of savory wood. The wine has a wonderfully tactile yet silky texture and impressive structure, thanks to its bright, high acidity and quite ample, firm and grippy tannins. The finish is rich, quite grippy and rather intense with lengthy, complex flavors of ripe boysenberries and blackberries, some cherry marmalade, light blueberry tones, a little bit of savory wood spice, a hint of licorice root and a touch of sun-baked earth. The alcohol remains surprisingly well-hidden throughout.

This is easily one of the most impressive vintages of 2010’s Geyserville - if not The Most Impressive - and although it has always been a wonderful wine, its brilliance really becomes obvious in a vertical tasting tasting. This vintage was easily the best of the Geyservilles we tasted and especially comparing to the relatively mature 2011 vintage, its remarkably youthful overall character was really accentuated. Furthermore, the wine has lost a great deal of the sweetest fruit and oak character, coming across as more savory and structure-driven old-world style, compared to how the wine tasted like 8 years ago, when it exhibited more ripe fruit notes and less integrated oak influence. This wine is definitely going in the right direction and I’d say that from the four vintages we had, this was the furthest away from from its optimal drinking window. Geyserville should start peaking at around 10 to 15 years of age, but this seemed like at least 10 years away from its apogee. Let this vintage wait, it really benefits from any further cellaring it can get. Terrific value at 40,30€. (95 pts.)

.

  • 2014 Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Estate - USA, California, Santa Cruz Mountains (27.11.2021)
    A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (75%), Merlot (14%), Petit Verdot (6%) and Cabernet Franc (5%) from the Monte Bello vineyard in Santa Cruz Mountains. The harvest started on 2nd of September and ended on 24th of September. Destemmed, fermented spontaneously, macerated with the skins for 6 days. The wine was blended using 15 separate fermentation lots, selected from a total of 20 different ferments. Aged in American oak (70% new, 30% second and third use) for 19 months. 13,7% alcohol.

Dense, concentrated and fully opaque purple-red color with a youthful blueish hue. The nose feels at first somewhat restrained and subtly funky, but opens up wonderfully to exhibit intense, sweetish aromas of ripe blackcurrants and juicy dark plums, some blueberry tones, a little bit of leathery funk, light lifted notes of ethery VA, a hint of cherries and a rustic, lambic-like touch of brett. The wine feels dense, concentrated and chewy on the palate with a rather full body and juicy flavors of ripe blackcurrants, sweet plummy fruit, some vanilla tones, light mocha notes of toasty oak spice, a little bit of meaty umami, a hint of juicy blueberry and a touch of extracted bitterness. The overall feel is quite firm and sinewy, thanks to the moderately high acidity and somewhat grippy medium-plus tannins. The finish is rich, savory and moderately grippy with long and quite complex flavors of ripe blackcurrants and blueberries, some plummy tones, a little bit of evolved meaty character, light sweet mocha oak tones, a hint of vanilla and a touch of savory wood spice.

A firm, balanced and quite complex Bordeaux blend that feels a bit polished and slightly more in the “new world” vein after a mini-vertical of Geyserville, which felt more “old world” in comparison. Even though the Zin-driven Geyserville feels more ripe and sweetly-fruited compared to this, the overall style here is more approachable with somewhat more polished fruit character and a not-overtly-pronounced yet still quite obvious new oak sheen. This is an enjoyable and well-made wine by all accounts, and it sports a quite impressive structure, but I wish it emphasized more of its savory and structured side and less its ripe, accessible fruit and sweet, toasty oak character. Perhaps some further aging could help a bit here? At least the wine came across as pretty youthful so I can see it aging gracefully for many more years. Priced somewhat according to its quality at 39,90€. (92 pts.)

.

  • 2011 Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Estate - USA, California, Santa Cruz Mountains (27.11.2021)
    A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (82%), Merlot (14%), Petit Verdot (3%) and Cabernet Franc (1%) from the Monte Bello vineyard in Santa Cruz Mountains. The harvest started on 19th of October and ended on 9th of November. Destemmed, fermented spontaneously, macerated with the skins for 8 days. The wine was blended using 17 separate fermentation lots, selected from a total of 25 different ferments. Aged in American oak (20% new, 40% second and third use, 40% older) for 21 months. 13% alcohol.

Quite dense, moderately concentrated and somewhat translucent purplish-red color. Savory and slightly Bordeaux-like nose with concentrated aromas of fresh blackcurrants, some tree bark, a little bit of mushroomy porcini character, light herbaceous notes of leafy greenness, a hint of forest floor, a touch of gravelly minerality and a woody whiff of pencil shavings. The wine is ripe, rich and quite chewy on the palate with a rather full body and quite intense flavors of sweet dark plums and fresh blackcurrants, some juicy blueberry tones, a little bit of toasty mocha oak, light gravelly mineral notes, a hint of earthy spices and a woody touch of pencil shavings. The tannins that used to be quite formidable in the wine’s youth are now surprisingly supple and friendly, contributing more to the silky yet firm texture while the rather high acidity takes care of the structure. The finish is rich, long and quite powerful with some tannic grip and a quite complex aftertaste of ripe dark fruits and sweet blackcurrants, some toasty oak spice, a little bit of juicy blueberry, light vanilla notes, a hint of cedar and a herbaceous touch of cooked bell pepper.

This wine remains consistently a terrific vintage of Ridge Estate Cab. Although the new oak use is quite judicious here, it still shows here a bit more than I’d like it to, although it has integrated quite nicely with the fruit for the most part and the wine is definitely evolving in the right direction. Out of the four Ridge Cabs we tasted, this was probably the most Bordeaux-like - albeit a bit polished one - and the brilliant 2009 vintage was quite similarly Bordelais in style as well. Although I was surprised how much the tannins had subside since my last taste (in August 2015), and the wine lacked a bit of that bite I was looking for, it made up for it with its wonderful depth, intensity and purity of fruit. There’s still a lot of room for this wine to evolve. At 47,00€, this was a pretty good purchase. (93 pts.)

.

  • 2009 Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Estate - USA, California, Santa Cruz Mountains (27.11.2021)
    A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (77%) and Merlot (23%) from the Monte Bello vineyard in Santa Cruz Mountains. The harvest started on 25th of September and ended on 12th of October. Destemmed, fermented spontaneously, macerated with the skins for 9 days. The wine was blended using 17 separate fermentation lots. Aged in American oak (15% new, 35% second use and 50% third use) for 19 months. 13,8% alcohol.

Quite dense, moderately concentrated and somewhat translucent dark cherry color. Ripe, somewhat evolved and a bit sweetish nose with dark-toned aromas of wizened dark fruits, some old dry leather, a little bit of sappy herbaceous character, light licorice tones, a concentrated hint of juicy dark forest fruits and a cooling touch of minty lift. The wine feels ripe, juicy and rather concentrated on the palate with a full body and quite intense flavors of sweet dark plums and boysenberries, some blueberry tones, light evolved notes of wizened dark forest fruits, a little bit of cassis, a sweet hint of toasty oak spice and a faint cooling touch of minty greenness. The overall feel is firm and balanced with its medium-to-moderately high acidity and ripe, somewhat resolved medium tannins. The finish is rich, sweet-toned and juicy with a little bit of tannic grip and an intense aftertaste of blueberries and ripe dark plums, some blackberry notes, a little bit of toasty mocha oak, light blackcurrant tones, a woody hint of pencil shavings and a touch of vanilla.

A quite big and ripe vintage of Ridge’s Estate Cab, but one that isn’t fully-blown Californian in style, but instead retains a bit of that savory, slightly Bordeaux-tinged old world style. In our small vertical, this was quite similar to the 2011 vintage, which was a bit more Bordeaux-like in character, but also noticeably more youthful in style; while 2011 felt like it could age for a really long time, this 2009 felt like it was getting quite close to its peak. Comparatively this vintage felt a bit more complex and ready in every way compared to the 2011 vintage, but it might be that the future potential here is a bit limited, while the 2011 might develop much further in the long run. Whatever the case, both these vintages were pretty great - this 2009 for immediate consumption and the 2011 for cellaring purposes. Solid value at 45,60€. (94 pts.)

.

  • 2006 Ridge Santa Cruz Mountains Estate - USA, California, Santa Cruz Mountains (27.11.2021)
    A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (56%), Merlot (42%) and Petit Verdot (2%) from the Monte Bello vineyard in Santa Cruz Mountains. The harvest started on 18th of September and ended on 25th of October. Destemmed, fermented spontaneously, macerated with the skins for 9 days. The wine was blended using 19 separate fermentation lots, selected from a total of 36 different ferments… Aged in American oak (first 5-6 months in 100% new, then the remaining 15 months in 54% new, 28% second use and 18% third and fourth use) for a total of 20 months. 13,7% alcohol. Tasted in a mini-vertical of Estate Cab 2014, 2011, 2009 and 2006.

Moderately concentrated, somewhat translucent and slightly evolved dark cherry color. The nose feels rather dull, closed and even slightly oxidative at first with understated aromas of blueberries and blackberry jam, some beef jerky, light wizened dark plum notes and a little bit of earth. As the wine opens up in the glass, the aromas start becoming more expressive, introducing more pronounced dried-fruit elements of raisins and prunes. The wine feels savory, meaty and slightly oxidative on the palate with a full body and complex, evolved flavors of gamey meat, raisins and prunes, some sweet blackcurrant marmalade tones, a little bit of earth, light figgy notes, a sweet hint of plum liqueur and a creamy touch of sweet vanilla oak. The gently grippy medium tannins bring some firmness and texture to the mouthfeel, but most of the structure relies on the rather high acidity. The finish is rich, dense and moderately grippy with juicy, slightly oxidative flavors of wizened dark plums and ripe bilberries, sweet blackcurrant jam, a little bit of beef jerky, light peppery tones, a hint of toasty oak spice and a touch of olive.

At first the wine was surprisingly dull and underwhelming, coming across very disappointing after the three other Ridge Cabs we tasted. However, the wine fortunately opened up in the glass and turned out to be enjoyable and quite lively, if not particularly vibrant or youthful anymore. Even though the 2009 vintage came across as a bit evolved, all the other three vintages were noticeably youthful in style compared to this 2006 vintage, which was getting surprisingly tertiary and at times even slightly oxidative. Based on this sample, I would say Ridge’s assessment of this wine aging for 10-15 years is pretty much spot on, as at 15 years of age this wine doesn’t really feel like it could improve much - or at all - from here. Due to its slightly understated nature, somewhat dull and oxidative feel and a bit tired energy, this wine didn’t really reach the level of the younger vintages, but it’s hard to say if it was just the age, or if this was a lesser vintage in quality. All in all, based on how this wine was drinking now, it felt perhaps a bit pricey for its quality at 45,60€. (88 pts.)

.
ridge blinds.jpg
.

  • 2016 Feudi di San Gregorio Dubl+ - Italy, Campania, Campania IGT (27.11.2021)
    Metodo Classico Brut made with 100% Greco, aged for 24 months on the lees before disgorgement. 12,5% alcohol.

Pale whitish-yellow color. Restrained, somewhat sweetish nose with aromas of ripe citrus fruits, some waxy tones, a little bit of hay and light notes of white peach. The wine is dry, ripe and somewhat neutral on the palate with flavors of ripe red apple, some fresh pear a little bit of hay, light autolytic notes of yeast, a hint of stony minerality and a touch of chalky bitterness. The wine is high in acidity with a persistent, creamy mousse. The finish is ripe and dry with moderately long flavors of juicy red apple, some tart citrus fruits, a little bit of hay, light yeasty notes and a hint of pear.

A nice and sophisticated but ultimately somewhat uncharacterful Campanian fizz. Despite its ripe fruit, the wine is wonderfully fresh, precise and mineral for such a southern sparkler, not showing one bit of heaviness or excessive ripeness. However, despite its 5 years of age, the wine shows surprisingly little depth, complexity or sense of evolution. Perhaps the wine will gain some additional complexity with further aging, or then it will just remain quite linear and rather neutral, no matter how old it gets. A good aperitif, but nothing to blow socks off. good value at 16€. (88 pts.)

.

Deep, concentrated golden yellow color. Ripe, sweet and quite concentrated nose with aromas of honey, some honey-and-oats bar, a little bit of Auslese-like lemon marmalade and beeswax, light creamy notes, a hint of oxidative caramel character and a touch of smoke. The wine is evolved, full-bodied and oily on the palate with complex, dry flavors of caramel, oxidative nuttiness, some dried apricot tones, a little bit of savory wood spice, light nuances of browned butter, a hint of pineapple and a sweet touch of dried tropical fruits. The acidity feels rather modest, making the wine come across as rather broad and heavy. The finish is round, evolved and somewhat oily with quite long tertiary flavors of bruised apple, some dried pineapple, light nutty oxidative tones, a little bit of cooked cream, a hint of honeyed richness and a mushroomy touch of chanterelle.

A rich, very evolved and a bit ponderous Cali Chardonnay that has a remarkably Auslese-like nose (many people guessed older Riesling before tasting the wine) and a bit too little acidity to carry itself with grace. The wine shows wonderful sense of depth and complexity both in the nose and in the taste, but on the palate the wine falls a bit short due to its modest acidity, which makes the mouthfeel rather dull, soft and lacking precision. It’s surprising how remarkably well a wine this low in acidity has survived - at almost 30 years of age this is still fully enjoyable and delivering everything one could expect from an aged Chardonnay - except for freshness and structure. This is a good wine, but despite its lovely tertiary qualities, it doesn’t manage to reach true greatness, unfortunately. (89 pts.)

.

Pale, limpid yellow-green color. Quite weird nose with a noticeable streak of flatulent reduction, followed by herbal aromas of chamomile and pilsner-like noble hops, some crunchy green apple, light creamy oak tones, a little bit of hay, vegetal hints of pea pods and white asparagus and a touch of old wood. The wine is light-to-medium-bodied with clean yet a little bit of evolved flavors of fresh Golden Delicious apple, some zesty citrus notes, a little bit of pea pod, light notes of hay, herbal hints of chamomile and pea shoots and an evolved touch of grainy character. The moderately high acidity keeps the rather light body of the wine in balance, lending it nice sense of structure. The finish is clean and quite crunchy with flavors of zesty citrus fruits, mealy apple, some grainy notes, a little bit of hay, light herbal notes of chamomile and grassy hops, a hint of leesy character and a touch pea shoots.

A drinkable and enjoyably fresh little Chardonnay that just seems a bit off the balance: there’s some reduction that takes its time to blow off, the fruit department feels a bit restrained compared to the herbal and somewhat vegetal notes and the evolved notes haven’t developed into notes of caramel, dried fruits or nuts, but instead into the direction of hay, grains and bread. An interesting and surprisingly bright and crunchy white wine, but I must not say I’m not entirely sold on the quality here. (84 pts.)

.

Moderately translucent and somewhat evolved pomegranate red with a slightly tertiary maroon hue and a thin, pale rim. The nose feels expressive and stylistically very Rioja with its rich aromas of sweet dark berries and vanilla oak, some pruney notes, a little bit of dill, light creamy or even buttery notes of diacetyl, a hint of blackcurrant jam and a tertiary touch of beef jerky. The wine is dry, dense and medium-bodied with a moderately diacetyl-driven taste, led by a somewhat noticeable streak of melted butter, followed by notes of juicy dark plums and ripe blackcurrants, some blueberry tones, a little bit of creamy oak and vanilla, light tertiary notes of earth and beef jerky, a hint of dill and a touch of cherry. The tannins feel ample and they slowly coat your gums, but they feel very ripe and resolved, not really making the wine feel tough or grippy; the structure mostly relies on the high acidity as the tannins mainly contribute to the texture of the wine. The finish is long, rich and juicy with somewhat evolved flavors of buttery diacetyl, some blueberry tones, a little bit of wizened dark plums, light strawberry notes, oaky hints of vanilla and dill and a developed touch of beef jerky.

A quite evolved and surprisingly buttery Rioja Gran Reserva. It’s perfectly plausible that this was just an off bottle - but then again it might be that people translate that diacetyl character into sweetness, seeing how many TNs in CT describe the flavors of the wine as sweet or even jammy, whereas I found the wine quite dry, fresh and crunchy with high acidity and no obvious ripe-fruited sweetness. I guess I need to re-taste this wine somewhere again just to see if all the bottles show that same diacetyl character, or if we just had an aberrant bottle. Other than that creamy/buttery diacetyl character, this was an enjoyable Rioja - albeit surprisingly mature in its taste. I would’ve expected a Rioja Gran Reserva to be capable of aging much longer than 20-25 years and I was surprised how tertiary and at times even slightly oxidative this wine was. Good stuff, but nothing spectacular. (88 pts.)

.

  • 2010 Miguel Torres Cabernet Sauvignon Manso de Velasco Viejas Vinas Curico Valley - Chile, Curico Valley (27.11.2021)
    Fruit sourced exclusively from Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards which are over 100 years old. Macerated with the skins for 32 days. Aged for 16 months in French barriques, 70% of which were new. Bottled unfiltered in June 2013. 14% alcohol, 2 g/l residual sugar, 4,7 g/l acidity, pH 3,7. Total production 38,200 bottles.

Dense, inky and fully opaque reddish-black color with an evolved terracotta hue towards the edge. Very powerful, concentrated and expressive nose with intense aromas of sweet cassis, some herbaceous notes of bell pepper, light plummy tones, a little bit of leafy greenness, a hint of blueberry juice, a touch of savory wood spice and a boozy whiff of alcohol. The wine is very dense, chewy and concentrated on the palate with a very full body and intense flavors of ripe blackcurrants and sweet dark plums, some leafy notes of currant leaves, a little bit of juicy blueberry, light oaky notes of savory wood spice and toasty mocha character, a hint of damp earth and a touch of extracted woody bitterness. The overall feel is very structured and muscular with assertive, grippy tannins and surprisingly high acidity. The finish is concentrated, quite grippy and rather tightly-knit with intense and very lengthy flavors of ripe blackcurrants, some wizened dark plums, a little bit of ripe blueberry, light oaky notes of savory wood spice and sweet cocoa, a hint of extracted woody bitterness and a herbaceous touch of leafy greenness. The high alcohol lends some warmth to the aftertaste.

A massive bruiser of a wine. I have to admit that it is impressive how much concentration and power one can pack into one wine and still make it feel surprisingly balanced and structured with its high acidity and ample yet well-proportioned tannins. This kind of huge, monolithic wine is as far as possible from my stylistic preferences, but I must admit this is much better than I anticipated. Although this is still quite over-the-top, the wine has lost that exuberant richness and clumsiness that most young Manso de Velascos seem to exhibit, and is definitely evolving in the right direction. I’m positive this will never become a graceful, sophisticated Cab, but seeing how relatively youthful the wine still is at the age of 11 years, I wouldn’t be surprised if it continued to improve for another decade or two. A positive surprise; fans of huge, extracted new world Cabs can easily add another 4 or 5 points to my score. (89 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

4 Likes

Thanks for sharing, sounds like it was a great tasting. Ridge is one of our favorite producers. Our greatest challenge is buying enough to age, as my wife will PNP Geyserville at will [cheers.gif]

I thought these notes looked familiar and then I saw the dates. I’ve read many of these on CT already.

I really like the 09 Lytton Springs. As you say it has lots of potential. I’ve been impressed by the fact that it really needs air to show its best right now. I’ve been trying to pick them up off auction when I can. If you bump into the '14 East Bench, give it a try. I’ve found this bottling to be quite variable in quality vintage to vintage but many of the Zins from Ridge in 2014 seemed to have an extra notch of structure and complexity. The East Bench is surprisingly good from that year.

That '94 Petite is the stuff of my dreams. Wish I could convince myself to spend the money on those older vintages. Ridge is great all around, but I especially love what they do with that grape.

Nice to see an update on the '14 Estate Cab. That was an oddity on release that had a lot of Ridge fans horrified by the very atypical, and disgusting level of, sweet caramel. Much discussion on here about it, too.

That '06 Estate was from a brief period ('04-06) that went over very badly with Ridge fans. It had been two wines, a Cab and a Merlot, carrying the SCM designation at that tier. They had long been 100% estate. Not sure the logic of making it a blend. They had been rethinking things as a lot of newer plantings had become mature vines and the volume of quality had risen. But, the SCM Cab was an insider secret, a mini-Monte Bello for $20 that Monte Bello buyers were buying by the case as sort of cellar defenders. Blending half Merlot completely changed the wine into something many of us didn’t like. The voices were heard, they kept the “Estate” designation, but went back to two separate wines.

1 Like

I wish we had any! I think that 2012 was the first East Bench we’ve had around here, and also the only one thus far. If we had any Ridge wines available here, I’d definitely buy them.

I’m with you on this one! I love how they don’t even try to make it into a fruity and accessible fruit bomb, but instead make it what it often naturally becomes - a very tough and unapologetic wine that just screams for aging. That 2015 was delicious even if drinking it was akin to chewing leather boots, whereas that 1994 was a case in point why anyone would want to a) buy; b) age those Petite Sirahs. Superb stuff!

I guess I’ve missed out that one, probably because I wasn’t hanging around here back then. Anyways, I can imagine why people would recoil at the style as the wine still seemed relatively polished and oaky - especially compared to the other Estate Cabs - but the wine wasn’t anymore undrinkably oaky and there was some nice funk too, which just added to the complexity. However, it still seems like a wine that you wouldn’t want to open yet; there’s still a lot of room for improvement and better oak integration.