Blend: 77% Zinfandel, 17% Carignane, 6% Petite Sirah
Because of the Zinfandel's unusually firm
structure, very little Petite Sirah was included in the blend. As in
most years, the 120-year-old Carignane was an
elegant, vibrant addition. This outstanding vintage
aged fourteen months in air-dried American oak.
Rich primary fruit gives the wine immediate
appeal; it will develop greater complexity over the
next ten years.
"77% Zinfandel; 17% Carignane; 6% Petite Sirah. Some years back Ridge removed the varietal identifier from its Geyserville red wine made substantially from Zinfandel but a field-blend in reality. But whatever they call it, it has been and continues to be a terrific Zinfandel by any standard. Its deep but still developing aromas of berries, brownies and sweet oak give way to more open and accessible ripe-berry flavors, and, contrary to the latter-day norm, the wine is free of excessive ripeness or evident heat. It has the depth to enjoy now, but given Geyserville's track record for longevity and the wine's nascent character, it is wise to cellar away a few bottles." -Connoisseurs' Guide
Ridge's history begins in 1885, when Osea Perrone, a doctor and prominent member of San Francisco's Italian community, bought 180 acres near the top of Monte Bello Ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains. He planted vineyards and constructed a winery of redwood and native limestone in time to produce the first vintage of Monte Bello in 1892. The historic building now serves as the Ridge production facility.
Though Ridge began as a Cabernet winery, by the mid-60s it had produced several Zinfandels including the Geyserville. In 1972, Lytton Springs joined the line-up and the two came to represent an important part of Ridge production. Known primarily for its red wines, Ridge has also made limited amounts of Chardonnay since 1962.
The Ridge approach is straightforward: find the most intense and flavorful grapes, guide the natural process, draw all the fruit's richness into the wine. Decisions on when to pick, when to press, when to rack, what varietals and what parcels to include and when to bottle, are based on taste. To retain the nuances that increase complexity, Ridge winemakers handle the grapes and wine as gently as possible. There are no recipes, only attention and sensitivity.
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Twice as large as Napa in size, Sonoma County only makes about half as much wine as its northeasterly neighbor. Because of its vast size, however, Sonoma is able to achieve far more diversity within its borders, which include sub-AVAs that are climatically varied. The atmosphere of Sonoma is decidedly laid-back and down-to-earth, but the wines are serious and well-made, ranging in style from subtle and elegant to rich and powerful. Grape varieties are more varied here, from Pinot Noir and Zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
The largest sub-AVAs of Sonoma include Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Valley. Each sub-AVA, with its own micro-climate, is unique in its grape varieties and styles of wine. Dry Creek makes a mean Zinfandel while Russian River produces stand up Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Alexander Valley makes some of the better Cabernet Sauvignons in the county and Sonoma Valley creates excellent wines from all the above varieties. Other grapes found throughout Sonoma include Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Color:From the moment you pour, this wine looks young. Very bright purple. I was expecting something deeper (2 of 3). Smell: The nose is pretty thin for such a well-rated wine. Certainly not promising. I don't expect much from the wine after smelling it (2 of 4). Taste: The bouquet does not mislead! The wine is indeed thin and un-remarkable, though not distasteful. Tastes over-filtered, and has a short finish (what is there is well blended though) (3 of 8). Overall: It's just okay. (2 of 5) Total Score: 9 out of 20.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.