Ridge East Bench Zinfandel 2018
Pairs well with roasted pork tenderloin with blue cheese potatoes or a wine country tri tip.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
All Zinfandel from the Dry Creek Valley, the 2018 Zinfandel East Bench offers up a great, pure, medium to full-bodied style that carries lots of classic spice, brambly herbs, incense, and plum-laced fruits. Nicely balanced, structured, and with solid length, this terrific Zinfandel will be even better with a year in bottle and keep for a decade.
Not far from Ridge’s Lytton Springs, East Bench was planted to vines in the 19th century, though those vines were abandoned in the early 20th. Nearly 100 years on, the team at Ridge started replanting the site, using cuttings selected at four vineyards planted before Prohibition. David Gates farms it as he does Ridge’s historic mixed plantings, the vines head trained and spur pruned. John Olney made this wine from vines planted in 2000 and 2001, creating a plump and delicious zinfandel emphasizing cozy fruit richness and firm tannins. It is exuberant, a pleasure to drink, while holding enough tension to make it a cellar candidate.
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.
A multifaceted and highly reputable sub-region of Sonoma, Dry Creek Valley is responsible for a wide range of wine styles—both red and white. One of the smallest AVAs in California, Dry Creek Valley has a winning combination of ideal geography and climate. Fertile, well-drained soils create concentrated varietal character while long, warm days, bookended by cool nights, allow grapes to reach full phenolic ripeness and balance. The warm and welcoming appellation is home to a number of family-owned vineyards and wineries that place a strong emphasis on sustainable farming practices.
Zinfandel reigns supreme here and still produces in a great number of very old vineyards—often 100 years old or older. These old vines create a powerful, voluptuous and sultry wine unlike those of any other region. Sauvignon Blanc, the valley’s signature white grape, also performs exceptionally well. Many other varieties grow comfortably here, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Syrah. Petite Sirah is often found in blends with Zinfandel.
Unapologetically bold, spice-driven and jammy, Zinfandel has secured it’s title as the darling of California vintners by adapting well to the states’ diverse microclimates and landscapes. Born in Croatia, it later made its way to southern Italy where it was named Primitivo. Fortunately, the imperial nursery of Vienna catalogued specimens of the vine, which sourced a journey to New England in 1829. Parading the true American spirit, Zinfandel found a new home in California during the Gold Rush of 1849. Somm Secret—California's ancient vines of Zinfandel are those that survived the neglect of Prohibition; today these vines produce the most concentrated, ethereal and complex examples.