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Ridge East Bench Zinfandel 2008

Zinfandel from Sonoma County, California
  • W&S92
  • WS91
  • ST90
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Winemaker Notes

Blackberry/pepper/vanilla nose. Big, dark zinfandel with flavors of briary fruit, minerals, cocoa. Well-incorporated tannins, ample acidity, long finish.

Critical Acclaim

W&S 92
Wine & Spirits

Ridge may be known for old-vine zin but the future is with the young, like this vineyard the Ridge team planted between 2000 and '01 using a massal selection from four pre-Prohibition vineyards. This zin grows on iron-rich clay loam and river rock, trained as bush vines, yielding a wine with bold intensity and a friendly sort of finesse. It's bright, vinous and spicy, with zinny florals that seem to rise right out of the meaty tannins. Old vines rarely produce a wine with this sort of exuberance. Decant it for roast lamb.

WS 91
Wine Spectator

A classically styled Dry Creek Zinfandel, with briary cherry and spicy dill aromas and flavors that open with a burst of ripe raspberry but evolve into dry, crisp plum and licorice notes, with rustic tannins. Drink now through 2016.

ST 90
International Wine Cellar

Saturated ruby. Powerful aromas of ripe red and dark fruits, musky herbs and flowers, with slow-building spiciness. Warm and expansive in the mouth, offering lush cherry and blackberry flavors and notes of vanilla and anise. Dusty tannins add gentle grip to the finish, but this zinfandel leads with its fruit, which absorbs any edges. This could be drunk now with pleasure.

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Ridge
Ridge, , California
Ridge
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.

Ribera del Duero

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An increasingly popular source of high-quality bold red wines...

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An increasingly popular source of high-quality bold red wines, the Ribera del Duero region of north-central Spain has begun to rival neighboring Rioja as one of the country’s best in its category. Set at high elevation in the valley above the Duero River (which continues east into Portugal where it is known as the Douro), it has a relatively short growing season, posing a risk of spring frost. Temperatures vary wildly between day and night as well as throughout the year, making this a relatively high-risk viticultural region. Nevertheless, since the 1980s, after a long lull in relevance, Ribera del Duero has experienced a surge in popularity as winemakers from throughout the world have recognized its high potential.

Tempranillo, known locally as Tinto Fino, is the primary variety, often vinified on its own. Here, it takes on a more robust persona than in Rioja, with deep color, structured tannins, and a healthy dose of acidity. It has all of the necessary qualities to create balanced wines, but is occasionally blended with international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec. A small amount of rosé is made from Garnacha. White wine is uncommon here and typically reserved for local consumption, and can only be made from the aromatic Albillo grape.

Tempranillo

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Notoriously food-friendly with soft tannins, modest alcohol, and bright acidity...

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Notoriously food-friendly with soft tannins, modest alcohol, and bright acidity, Tempranillo is the star of Spain’s Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions. It is important throughout Spain as well as in Portugal, where it is known as Tinta Roriz and is an important component of Port wines and the table wines of the Douro region that Port calls home. California, Washington, and Oregon have all had moderate success with Tempranillo, producing a riper, more fruit-forward style of wine.

In the Glass

Tempranillo is often aged in new oak for the integration of spicy, woodsy, and herbal flavors, often with hints of vanilla, coconut, and dill. The grape itself produces medium-weight reds with bright red and black fruit aromas and hints of spice, leather, and tobacco, with no shortage of flavor.

Perfect Pairings

Tempranillo’s modest, fine-grained tannins and bright acidity make it extremely food friendly, pairing with a wide variety of Spanish-inspired dishes—especially grilled lamb chops, a rich chorizo and bean stew, or paella.

Sommelier Secret

The Spanish take their oak aging requirements very seriously, especially in Rioja. There, a system is in place to indicate on the label how much time the wine has spent in both barrel and bottle before release, which is helpful to the consumer trying to determine the style of an unfamiliar wine. Rioja can range from Joven (fresh, fruity, and unoaked) to Gran Reserva (complex and oxidized from extended barrel aging), with Crianza and Reserva in between.

ALXEASTBENCH_2008 Item# 106426

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