People seem unaware than Ridge makes a Chardonnay. But Chardonnay planted in the forties was growing on the "middle" vineyard when the founders bought the land in 1959. The first (legal) vintage was 1962. So it's nothing new, though the original vines were pulled in the eighties, and supplanted by those on the "lower" vineyard, Jimsomare. Style and technique have changed a bit over time, consistency has improved, but Ridge Chardonnay remains — as ever — complex, delightful, and eminently suitable for cellaring. (Recent tastings of the '76 and '79 confirm the longevity factor.)
Current vinification practice involves long, slow fermentation on naturally-occurring yeast, natural malolactic, natural clarification through settling (no fining or filtration.) In general: apple, pear, and pineapple fruit predominate. (Some years are more tropical than others.) A nicely flinty mineral element is present. There are subtle undertones of butter, baked bread, caramel. These are complex wines. The '96 is lovely now, the '97 just coming into its own. Either could do with some aging.
"Number 2 on Wine Spectator's Top 100 of 2007!
Shows lots of spicy, toasty, smoky oak, but also plenty of rich, vibrant, smooth and concentrated pear, fig and melon flavors, with a return to the toasty oak. Great balance, depth, elegance and finesse. Drink now through 2011."