It’s another day on top of the mountain here, and the sun is shining at last. It’s clear, and we can see San Jose and even a bit of San Francisco in the distance. It’s time for a visit to Ridge Vineyards in Cupertino!
We start our tasting with the 2009 Estate Chardonnay, which is aged in a mish mash of barrels from new to 4 year old American and French oak. I found creamy vanilla custard, spicy oak, and lemon flavors with a healthy dose of tropical fruit. This blend is harvested and vinified separately, and then finalized after a blind tasting of each component is done to determine the possible blends that could be made. Most of the contents of this blend come from the Jimson Ranch vineyard which is at about 1500 feet elevation, giving the wine a lot of minerality and acidity.
Next up, the 2008 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, which is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 3% Petite Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. I loved this cab because it was racy and had some nice acidity. The wild yeast fermentation shows a ton of mineral flavors with dusty sandlewood finish. There were big black and blue fruit flavors, with plum and rich figs with juicy cherries on the palate. It was rich without being overblown, a total winner in my book.
The 2009 Geyserville Zinfandel is the 44th vintage of this wine, which makes it the longest continuously produced Zinfandel in the state, which, quite frankly with the ever changing wine industry – is quite a feat. Given that our state is known for it’s Italian immigrants and the traditions of Italian field belnds (mostly zin) that they brought over, the Ridge style of zin is a dying art. The grapes come from properties that are interplanted and dry farmed with wild yeast fermentation and I tasted tradiitonally big blackberry jam, with some black pepper and cherries on top. I also found some hibiscus zing which gives this 74% Zinfandel, 17% Carignane, 6% Petite Sirah, 2% Alicante Bouchet, 1% Mataro (Mouvedre, or if you prefer Monastrell) mutt some life and body.
Compared to the 1999 Geyserville, the 09 was tapdancing on American Idol. The 99 was chewy, dark and earthy witha healthy dose of cigar box to round out the rusticity (this is my new favorite word, and since Christopher loves $20 words….) The 99 is 68% zin, 16% Carignane, 16% Petite Sirah and was chewy and dense. The fruit is still there after 12 years, but it’s brooding and not bright and zingy – which, is amazing and delicious in an entirely differently way.
The 1985 Monte Belle Cab was a rare treat. The color is an astounding browning bronze and the nose is rich and caramelized touch of white pepper. It had quite meaty characteristics, with some floral notes on the palate and a bit of wood on the back end. THe companion 1995 Monte Bello, a blend of 69% Cab, 18% Merlot, 10% Petite Verdot and 3% Cab Franc was a darkly chewy and big wine with black fruit, murky ink, notes of slightly rotten fruit and blueberries. Lots of twigs and sticks in this one! The 2005 Monte Bello was big rich fruit on the nose, with chewy leather and tobacco, dusty plum, and cherries jubilee. It had a nice subtle acidity and I really enjoyed this blend of 70% Cab Sav, 22% Merlot, 6% Petite Verdot and 2% Cab Franc. It was very restrained and well balanced and worked quite well with the cheese we were nibbling on.
The 2004 Lytton Estate Syrah is totally sold out, and totally delicious. It’s 82% Syrah and is a very small batch wine that is cofermented with 10% Viognier and 8% Grenache blended in for good measure. It has a flavor or a rich baked fruit pie, and is teeth coatingly purple. Lots of acid on this one. The 2006 Lytton Estate was funky cigar box with its 92% syrah and 8% Viognier. The viognier balanced out the syrah nicely and lit up the dark and brooding beast. The additional aromatics of the viognier gave some juicy white floral notes to the syrah as well.
As you can see, it was another marathon Ridge tasting, which we all enjoyed very much.
Thanks Chris for the great table settings and words of ponderment!
I look forward to our next quarterly tasting soon.