I had the pleasure of attending the pre-release tasting of the new vintages of Ridge Vineyards. Ridge certainly make some of my favourite wines, from the “modest” Zinfandel blends through to the truly world class Monte Bello.
Read on for more detail and tasting notes for each of the wines
Sadly Eric Baugher, the wine maker at Monte Bello couldn’t join us. He was waylaid by a volcanic ash cloud and stuck in California. Thankfully, the wines did make it in time!
The wines, for me, continued Ridge’s tradition of making elegant and complex wines that have beautiful poise and balance. These are not big blockbuster Californian examples, but wines that show pure, restrained fruit and bags of complexity.
2008 Zinfandel Blends
2008 was a year characterised by below average rainfall and a relatively uneventful growing season, with no sustained heat spells.
Ridge 2008 Lytton Springs
74% Zinfandel, 21% Petite Syrah, 5% Carignane.
Very bright mid-ruby colour. The nose exudes bright and fresh red fruit with a distinct liquorice, tar and spicy oak backbone. The palate burst with very fresh, bright red autumn fruits, sweet vanilla from the oak, some smoke and elegant and fine grained tannins. That distinct liquorice character comes through again in the long and complex finish.
This is a very fine Lytton Springs, showing a great deal of elegance and restraint. It will offer a attractive drinking for up to 10 years.
Ridge Geyserville 2008
72% Zinfandel, 20% Carignane, 18% Petite Syrah, 2% Mataro (Monastrell, Mourvèdre)
Bright mid-ruby colour. The nose shows all the bright and fresh red fruits of the Lytton but with more black fruit backbone. The palate is very clean and fresh with a backbone of savoury spice and lovely balancing acidity. The tannins are very fine again with a long and spicy finish.
There’s more structure in the Geyserville than the Lytton and hence it’s more likely to be a keeper – probably lasting more like 15 years. It still makes an attractive drink now though.
Ridge is of course justly famous for its Cabernet Blends and on this performance they seem to just keep getting better with each vintage.
Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot 2007
58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot
Very deep red in colour with a shining brightness to the wine. The nose is dominated by deep, clean and fresh black fruit and a rich and attractive spiciness. The rich blackcurrant palate supported by sweet spice, fine tannins and considerable length.
The elegance of this wine really does shine through and it’s very approachable now – I think however that it will gain considerable complexity given a few years and probably last comfortably up to 10.
Ridge Monte Bello 2009 (Barrel Sample)
The sample tasted was not necessarily (but close to) the final blend. I’ve not given the exact blend just in case it changes.
The wine is deep, almost opaque purple – the colour really does cling to the side of the glass. The nose is very clean and fresh, but maybe slightly closed. With a bit of swiriling it revealed deep blackcurrant and blackberry fruit, some liquorice, vanilla, cinnamon and cloves. The palate gives an initial hit of black fruit followed by rich Christmas cake spice. The tannins are very soft, fine and elegant with a perfect balancing acidty.
The 2009 Monte Bello is very elegant, long and complex. The finish goes on and on and the wine I’m sure will develop into a great Monte Bello over the next twenty years or so. This is one of the finest MBs I’ve tasted.
Buying these wine
The Zinfandels and Santa Cruz Cabernet wines will be available at West Mount Wine from Autumn 2010. The 2009 Monte Bello won’t be available until 2011.
The 2008 vintage of Monte Bello will be available at West Mount Wine in Autumn 2010.
However, if you are interested in securing a pre-release allocation of any of these wines, please contact us and we’ll see what we can do, subject to availability.
All wines will be available in-bond or duty paid.