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Ridge Santa Cruz Mountains 2003

Bordeaux Red Blends from Santa Cruz Mountains, California
  • W&S90
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Winemaker Notes

68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc

Bud break was early, but a cool spring delayed bloom until early June. Unusually high temperatures in mid-September stressed the young merlot, disqualifying it for inclusion in this year's wine. The mature merlot, cabernets, and petit verdot were unaffected, and harvested on schedule throughout October. Acidity was firm and tannins easily extractable—even during the first three days, we limited circulation of juice over the cap of skins. From the start of natural yeast fermentation on day four, we allowed circulation only under the cap, and pressed at dryness after nine days. Most of the thirty-four lots went through natural malolactic in barrel: fourteen were selected for this fine companion to the Monte Bello. In aging, new oak was limited to forty percent; time in barrel was extended to twenty-one months. This beautifully-balanced wine is enjoyable now, and will develop fully over the next ten to twelve years.

Critical Acclaim

W&S 90
Wine & Spirits

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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.

Portugal

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Best known for flavorful fortified wines but also producing excellent dry wines, Portugal is unique in that it relies almost exclusively on its many indigenous grape varieties. Bordering Spain to the west on the Iberian Peninsula, this is a land where tradition reigns supreme, perhaps due in part to its relative geographical and, for much of the 20th century, political isolation. Portugal is a long and narrow country, which makes for considerable diversity in climate and wine styles, with milder weather in the north and significantly more rainfall near the coast. With the exception of Port, most Portuguese wines have struggled to garner attention in the international marketplace, perhaps due to the unfamiliar and difficult to pronounce nature of most of its grape varieties and terminology, which means that there are many excellent values to be discovered here by the adventurous consumer. The country is perhaps better known for being the world’s leader in cork production than for its wine.

Port, made in the Douro Valley, is the fortified wine for which Portugal is most famous. The same region also produces full-bodied dry wines made from the same set of grape varieties, which include Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz (Spain’s Tempranillo). The nation’s other important fortified wine, Madeira, is produced on the eponymous island off the North African coast. Other dry wines of the mainland include the tart, slightly effervescent Vinho Verde of the north, the bright, elegant reds and whites of the Dão, and the bold, jammy reds of the Alentejo.

CWC971224_2003 Item# 86935

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