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6 Late Model Wines from Ridge Vineyards

Click to enlarge image.

Click to enlarge image.

Our friend Christina Donley was in Toledo this past week in her capacity as Midwest Regional Sales Representative for Ridge Vineyards, and she gave us a shout to see if we’d like to get together with her on her last night in town. Christina is tons of fun, and since she’d come all the way from the Left Coast, it was only right for us to take an hour’s drive south to hang out with her for a while. We met up at Mancy’s Italian Grill, which coincidentally was where our Toledo group had its first ever gathering, 10 years ago. The pizza was good, as was the ’04 Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico Riserva (sorry, I didn’t take notes), and we had a delightful time renewing acquaintances with Ms. Donley.

When it was time for us to leave, Christina gave us the Ridge samples she’d been tasting around Toledo that day, since she’d visited all of her accounts and knew that we’d appreciate the opportunity try them. We bid our fond adieu’s (not to be confused with fondues), drove home and duly tasted through all 6 wines, and of course, I recorded my impressions, which are as follows.

2006 Ridge Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay Monte Bello, 14.4% alc.: Clean medium straw color; toasty oak dominates the aromatics completely, gaining a solid core of spicy apple, pear and a note of butterscotch in the mouth. Full bodied, with excellent balance and cut, but needs time for the oak to integrate, unless you like a good dose of wood in your Chardonnay. No problem there, as these have about as good a track record for aging as Ridge’s reds, so 3-5 years in the cellar won’t hurt it at all, and it’ll probably go even longer. The oak does tone down some with air, as the wine opens and improves, but my money is on laying it down for a while, as it has all the goods to develop into a very fine Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay. Find this wine

2006 Ridge Santa Cruz Mountains Monte Bello, 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 13.5% alc.: Showing clean dark color and offering toasty oak over black currant/cassis shaded with lavender and blueberry on the nose; flavors generally echo, but this is a young wine in serious need of time in the cellar. Full bodied, very smooth in texture and well structured for decades of development, if the ’77 tasted recently is any indication. Very primary, with somewhat astringent tannins at this point, especially moving towards the finish. Be patient with this one, as it promises great things down the road; my notes read “try again in 10years.” Find this wine

2007 Ridge Dry Creek Valley Lytton Springs, 71% Zinfandel, 22% Petite Sirah, 7% Carignane, 14.4% alc.: Clean dark color; some tar dominates the black raspberry and blackberry nose, with any Draper perfume hidden at first. More fruit comes out on the palate, but this never quite loses its tarry aspect. Full bodied, with a smooth velvety texture and excellent structure for several years of development. Opens nicely in the glass, with the tar morphing into earthy undertones, and the fruit is not too ripe at all, being in more a dry, claret style. I’d guess that it will take on a Bordeaux-like character with 10 years and more of age, and it has the goods to get there and go beyond. With the last few sips of my glass, a little of the signature perfume does emerge and it does get a little riper, but only a little. Some very good Lytton Springs here, and no need to be in a hurry to open it right away, but if you do, give it an hour or so in a decanter. Find this wine

Click to enlarge image.

Click to enlarge image.

2007 Ridge Napa Valley Zinfandel York Creek, 78% Zinfandel, 22% Petite Sirah, 14.6% alc.: Clean dark color, with a pretty nose of Draper perfume, black raspberry, black cherry and blueberry, all graced with a perfect kiss of sweet oak; there’s lots more of the same in the mouth, anchored on a discreetly earthy base. Full bodied, well structured and sleek, with good length on the finish where the earthiness shows the most. A nice, ripe quality sets the tone here without going over the top, taking me back to the Ridge Zins from 1993, which had the same kind of pretty character right from the get-go. Very nice now, and very nice in 5-10 years or more. Find this wine

2007 Ridge Sonoma Valley Zinfandel Pagani Ranch, 92% Zinfandel, 5% Alicante Bouschet, 3% Petite Sirah, 14.3% alc.: Clean dark color, with classic Draper perfume on the nose, all raspberry, black raspberry, blueberry and again, that perfect kiss of sweet oak; flavors echo nicely, being ripe, but not too ripe. This is not quite as big as these once were; it’s sleek, smooth in texture and almost full bodied, with good structure, but without the depth for the kind of extended aging that the Lytton Springs and York Creek show. Like the York Creek, this reminds me of those pretty ’93s, and it’s much better than the last few efforts with this bottling. If I’d like a little more heft to it, that’s only a minor complaint. Find this wine

2005 Ridge Dry Creek Valley Syrah Lytton West, 94% Syrah, 6% Viognier, 14.5% alc.: Deep and dark in color, and not at all over-ripe in flavor and aroma; big, rich and yet somewhat restrained at the same time, with earthy plum and blackberry character that seems to reflect the use of older, rather than newer barrels. Full bodied, with excellent structure and good length, and while it’s quite drinkable now (and the extended air undoubtedly helped it throughout the day), it has a nice future ahead of it, at least 10 years, and probably considerably longer. Find this wine

These wines come in a rather interesting range of prices, as the winesearcher.com links demonstrate.  Many thanks to Christina for giving us the chance to taste through them, all of which we highly recommend.

Reporting from Day-twah,

geo t.

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