by Tom Hill
self-admitted wine geek, Tom lives in Northern New Mexico
and works as a computational physicist at Los Alamos National
Laboratory doing numerical neutron transport & large scale
code development. He has been tasting wines since 1971, participates
locally with a couple of large tasting groups in his area,
and is practically a fixture at most California wine festivals,
such as the Hospice du Rhône, Rhône Rangers, and
ZAP. Other interests: Tom is heavily into competitive sport
fencing (foil & epee), biking, cooking, basketball, skiing,
backpacking, mountain climbing.
SFW&CF Ridges -
September 17-19, 2009
We tried SFW&CF Ridges Sept 17-19, 2009:
- Ridge Calif Chard MonteBello (100%; MonteBelloEstate/SantaCruzMtns; 14.4%; Bttld: April'08;
Drk: 2/09-2/14-2/15: EB) 2006: Light gold color; some butterscotchy/oak bit earthy/chalky/
minerally some Mosel valve oil/gout de petrol lovely complex nose; tart fairly austere light
butterscotchy/caramel/oak rather minerally/chalky/earthy light melony/Chard bit valve oil
flavor; rather long some earthy/minerally/chalky light melony/appley/Chard some butterscotchy/
oak rather tart finish; should easily go out 10 yrs or more; a classic MonteBello/SCM Chard. $60.00
- Ridge Calif MonteBello (100% Chard; MonteBelloVnyd/SCM; 14.5%; Bttld: Feb'01: Drk: ? :PD)
1999: Med.gold color; slight cabbagey/funky that clears to very strong pungent/ozone/WWII beacon
striking old Mosel/valve oil/gout de petrol light smokey/charred/oak slight oatmealy/old Chard/
old WhiteBurg quite complex nose w/ no trace of oxidation; tart some chalky/minerally rather
strong Mosel/valve oil/old Riesling rather charred/pungent/smokey/oak complex flavor; very long/
lingering complex Mosel/valve oil/old Riesling chalky/minerally lovely finish; not your usual
Calif Chard and out on the wings of the bell curve, but a beautiful/complex example of an old
SCM Chard. Will probably go another 5-10 yrs; no trace of oxidation.
- Ridge Calif Zin Jimsomare (JimsomareRanch/SCM; 100% Zin; 14.7%; 17 brls; Bttld: April'09;
Drk: 1/09-1/24: EB) 2007: Very dark color; rather strong blackberry/Zin fairly earthy/dusty
bit minerally strong charred/oak slight peppery/pungent unusual very interesting nose; rather
tart rich/earthy/dusty strong pungent/blackberry/Zin bit smokey/charred/oak rather tannic/hard
flavor; very long strong dusty/earthy very strong blackberry/peppery bit charred/toasty/oak
structured/tannic finish; needs much age; a bit more forward fruit than the Ridge Jimsomares
of old but definitely of that same mold; tastes like a Zin made by a MonteBello producer;
not the lush/forward fruit of the other Ridge '07 Zins, but much more interesting; a classic
for the long term; much like the young HowellMtn Zins but much more fruit.
- Ridge Calif Zin BuchignaniRanch (9% Carignane; Old Vines; SonomaCnty; 14.7%; 37 brls;
Drk: 1/01-1/06-1/07: PD) 1999: Med.light color; very attractive bit complex some vanilla/smokey/
oak quite spicy/raspberry/blackberry/Zin bit complex nose; soft/smooth/elegant/round quite spicy/
raspberry/blackberry/Zin some smokey/vanilla/oak/DP bit complex flavor; fairly long bright/very
spicy/raspberry/blackberry/Zin some DraperPerfume/smokey/vanilla/oak finish w/ round/polished/
balanced tannins; quite a lovely/mature Ridge Zin.
- Ridge Calif BuchagnaniRanch Zin (23% Carignane, 1% PS; SonomaCnty; 14.3%; 46 brls;
Drk: 11/02-11/07) 2001: Med.dark color; strong lush/blackberry/raspberry/Zin some pencilly/toasty
oak light earthy/dusty/old vines attractive if a biit simple nose; soft lush/rich blackberry/
raspberry/Zin light smokey/vanilla/oak some DraperPerfume very attractive drinkable flavor; med.long
light vanilla/smokey/oak/DP fairly bright/zippy/blackberry/raspberry/Zin finish w/ light/smooth/
round/gentle tannins; very nice drinking Ridge Zin.
- Ridge Calif MonteBello (11% Merlot; 9% PetiteVerdot; MonteBello; 13.2%; 89 tons from 92 acres;
Selection: 40%; Drk: 4/10-4/13: PD; Bttld: May'98) 1996: Very dark color; beautiful cedary/pencilly
strong blackcurranty/Cab/slight herbal bit pungent/smokey/charred slight bretty some complex
beautiful nose; tart very rich blackcurranty/Cab earthy/dusty slight herbal quite cedary/pungent/
smokey big/rich/structured some complex flavor; very long/lingering pungent/smokey/cedary/pencilly/
oak bit cigar box very strong blackcurranty/Cab earthy/dusty tannic/structured finish w/ ample
tannins; will go out another 10 yrs I'd guess. Stunning Cab shown no signs of slipping.
- Ridge Calif MonteBello (25% Merlot, 2% CabFranc, 1% PV; SantaCruzMtns; 13.0%; 166 tons from
105 cares; Selection: 42%; Drk: 1/11-1/16: PD) 1999: Very dark color; very strong blackcurranty/Cab/licorice/pungent some cedary/pencilly/charred/toasty/oak rather earthy/dusty slight complex nose; tart some earthy/dusty intense blackcurranty/Cab/licorice pungent/smokey/charred damp forest floor quite tannic/structured flavor; very long charred/smokey/oak intense blackcurranty/Cab/licorice/pungent slight pencilly/cedary some complex finish; another one for 10 yrs out; very similar to the '96 but a bit more forward fruit.
- Ridge Calif Zin Essence DusiRanch/PasoRobles (13.9%; SaH: 39%; RS: 9.2%; Drk: 9/72 <-- 9/82)
1991: Black color; very intense boysenberry/blackberry/Zin/framboise/jammy huge fruit slight
overripe/raisened nose w/ little complexity; rather sweet very intense blackberry/jammy/boysenberry/
framboise/liquer huge fruit slightly raisened/overripe flavor; very long/lingering jammy/blackberry/
boysenberry/framboise huge fruit slight raisened finish w/ ?? tannins; starting to show a bit of
that raisened character but beautiful example of Essence.
1. Last week marked the 19'th annual SantaFe Wine & Chile Fiesta. I have followed the event from
the very start. These Ridges were some we had over several day's time.
2. Ridge Whites: I've followed the Ridge Whites from the very start. When I first started trying them, in the early '70's, I found them lean/austere/earthy; they were not my cup of tea; not like the huge/intense/very oaky DavidBruces and MtEden's that I loved from the SCM.
In Nov '74; I took a group of my scientific types up to see TheRidge. We were hosted by Dave
Bennion. It was a cold/frigid/blustery day up on the hillock there; huddled around that dilapidated
picnic bench. We tasted thru a bunch of the '73 Zins & Cabs; totally dazzled we were. As we were
finishing up, I commented to Dave how much I really liked his Zins...but I thought the whites were
lacking. He immediately went down to the library and brought of 5-6 btls of the Chard, WhiteRiesling, and Sylvaner from the mid-'60's and started ripping out corks. They were absolutely stunning; classic SCM earthyness, but very complex. The Riesling was loaded w/ Mosel/valve oil and very Germanic in style. The Chards showed classic oldBurg/oatmealy character. We finished off w/ a hlf btl of Botrytis WhiteRiesling TBA. It was an absolutely amazing display of how well these SCM Chard and others can age. Made a believer out of me.
These two Chards tasted above are of that classic mold. They both seem to show some of that Mosel/valve oil/gout de petrol of classic/aged Rieslings. Very different from mainstream Calif Chards. There's no reason not to expect them to go out equally long.
3. Zin: The Zin seminar this year was devoted to the 4 R's...Ridge/Rosenblum/Ravenswood....and DonnReisen; to whom the seminar was dedicated. For the seminar & to honor Donn, MarilynReisen was invited to SFW&CF. This was her 3'rd-4'th visit to SFW&CF...her first without Donn, however. At the start of the seminar, she was asked to give a short tribute and rememberances of Donn. She did this very eloquently a straight from the heart. There were more than a few tears in the audience from those w/ whom Donn had connected so well over the yrs. It captured very well the essence of the extraordinary man who was DonnReisen.
This was my first opportunity to meet DanBuckler; the new Ridge sales manager for the Southwest USA. I was quite impressed w/ the amount of knowledge he'd picked up on Ridge in the 6 months he's been in this position. He's a first rate representative for Ridge and I liked him quite a lot. Susan poured with him at the three tasting events and took a real shine to him.
The Zin seminar was the weakest one yet at SFW&CF. Ravenswood didn't even bother to send someone to speak on their wines. Diageao sent a marketing type who seemed a bit clueless about details of the wines and actually she gave some wrong information on the wines. Dan was the only one there who spoke with any competence and whom I learned anything from. Marilyn was the real star of that show.
4. MomteBello: I just usually get my MB Collector's shipment and stash them back in the far reaches of the cellar. Because of my aversion to Calif Cabs, I seldom make the effort to venture into the archives and retrieve one. Since Marilyn was joining us for dinner at AquaSanta, this seemed like an appropriate time to drag some out. Whenever I go back and taste one of these MonteBellos, I once again have this epiphany as to how great MonteBello is. These were two such.
5. Buchagnani: Another classic example of why the Ridge ATP's continue to perplex me. Someone brought the '01 Buchagnani to the DaveJones Memorial Potluck Fri, so I thought I'd pull the '99 from my stash. I had low expectations for both these wines. When I had these two Zins on release, they were not very thrilling and rather on the simple side. The '01 is still a bit simple, but starting to show some development and much better than on release. However, the '99 has really developed into quite a lovely example of a mature Ridge Zin. Nothing really profound, but very/very good drinking. Both will probably go out another 3-5 yrs. Friggin' ATP's!!
6. Essence: This '91 was the last (or was it the '93) Essence Ridge made from BenniDusi's Paso grapes. He subsequently told PaulDraper...no more. Leaving the grapes out there on the vine was so antithetical to Benni's notion of good farming that it created such a high degree of angst to see those grapes sitting out there day after day. I suspect he was worried that his neighbors would drive by, see his grapes still hanging out there, and conclude Beni had lost it...or...worse...conclude that his grapes were no longer being farmed well and he couldn't find a customer for them. So Beni decided...No Mas.
With the high RS of the RidgeEssences, one would expect them to be near-ageless. I'm coming to
the conclusion that they're probably best in their first 10 yrs when they're packed w/ powerful/ripe
fruit. As they get older, the raisened/pruney character, that's buried by all that fruit, seems to
start showing more and more. That's one character that the Ridge Essences always show. When they're young, they show huge/powerful fruit...but none of that late-harvesty/raisened/pruney character that many such LateHrvst Zins seem to show.
The Ridge dinner Thurs was the public debut of the '07 Geyserville Essence. No notes, but it is
a stunning Ridge Essence....maybe even the best one yet. Huge blackberry/liquer/framboise fruit w/nary a glimpse of raisened character. Not yet available on their WebSite...but soon. About $50/hlf.
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