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by Tom Hill

A 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.

Mostly Ridge Zins - March 23, 2011

We tried the other week the New Ridge Zins:

  1. Ridge Calif Zin Carmichael (8% PS; 14.7%; 41 brls; Bttld: 11/09; Drk: 8/09-8/15-8/16: EB)
    : Med.dark color; attractive bright/raspberry/Zinberry some vanilla/oak slight buttery bit spicy/ dusty nose; tart bright/raspberry/Zinberry some vanilla/oak pleasant/simple flavor; med. slightly tart bright/Zinberry/raspberry slight dusty/spicy some vanilla/oak finish w/ light tannins; a pleasant/simple/ quotidian Ridge Zin. $28.00
  2. Ridge Calif Zin Carmichael (4% PS; 14.1%; 47 brls; Bttld: 12/08; Drk: 9/08-9/12-9/13: EB) 2007: Med. dark color; deeper less bright/Zinberry/fruit bit more pungent/licorice/blackberry some toasty/oak/DraperPerfume bit more interesting nose; some tart licorice/blackberry/Zin rather pungent bit toasty/oak/DP bit lean/tannic flavor; med.long pungent/toasty/oak/DP some licorice/blackberry/Zin bit hard/tannic finish; nice Zin but just that; more interesting and less simple than the '08 and seems longer lived. $28.00
  3. Ridge Calif Zin BuchignaniRanch (7% Carignane; 13.8%; 48 brls; Bttld: Dec'08;
    Drk: 8/08-8/13: JO) 2007
    : Med.dark color; rather dusty/earthy/old vine strong blackberry/Zin/spicy light pungent/oak very attractive Ridge Zin nose; soft fairly rich blackberry/Zin/cranberry/spicy light pungent/toasty/oak some tannic flavor; med.long some pungent/spicy/blackberry/Zin/cranberry soft finish w/ modest tannins; some thought it had TCA but I didn't get any; needs several yrs; one of the better Buchignanis. $28.00
  4. Ridge Calif Zin JimsomareRanch/SantaCruzMtns (100% Zin; 14.3%; 13 brls; Bttld: 5/10;
    Drk: 3/10-3/17: EB) 2008
    : Dark color; very strong blackberry/raspberry/Zin/licorice some DP/pungent/oak rather dusty/old vines very spicy quite interesting nose; somewhat tart fairly tannic strong blackberry/Zin/raspberry/licorice light toasty/pengent/oak/DP very spicy flavor; very long strong blackberry/raspberry/Zin some dusty/OV quite spicy fairly tart light pungent/toasty/oak/DP finish w/ modest tannins; one of the best Ridge '08 Zins released thus far; lovely/lovely very spicy Zin. $32.00
  5. Ridge Geyserville SonomaCnty (74% Zin/17% Carignane/6% PS/2% AlicanteBouschet/1% Mataro; 14.3%; Bttld: Feb 2011; Drk: 9/10-9/20-9/25: EB) 2009: Dark color; lovely complex blackberry/black cherry/Zin/plummy very spicy/cinammon light DP/pungent/oak/toasty perfumed nose; somewhat tart very spicy/blackberry/black cherry/Zin/plummy light DP/pungent/toasty/oak flavor w/ somehate smooth/polished tannins; very long very spicy/cinammon dusty/OV very spicy/black cherry/ blackberry/Zin/licorice somewhat tannic finish; lots of spiciness and terrific balance to take it for the long haul; 2025?? I don't see that..but sometimes you just gotta believe. $35.00
  6. Ridge EastBench Zin (100% Zin; DryCreekVlly/SonomaCnty; 15.2%; Bttld: 1/2011; Drk: 10/10-10/15-10/16: JO) 2009: Med.color; rather alcoholic some very ripe/raspberry/Zin/blackberry light vanilla/oak/buttery nose; soft some very ripe/raspberry/Zin bit simple rather ripe/overripe slight hot/volatile light vanilla/oak/buttery ripe/simple flavor; med.long perfumed talc/cherry soda pop/ raspberry/Zin bit ripe/hot/alcoholic rather vanilla/oak finish w/light tannins; a bit simple and rather on the ripe side; an underwhelming Ridge Zin. $26.00
  7. Hamel Syrah SonomaCnty (Vitis Allobrogica?; 63% RRV/37% DCV; U/U; 14.4%) 2000: Very dark color w/ little bricking; strong plummy/blackberry/Syrah very slight bretty/horsecollar light pencilly/toasty/ oak somewhat complex nose; somewhat tart light tannic dusty/earthy/plummy some blackberry/licorice/ Syrah light toasty/pencilly/oak flavor; med.long light tannic plummy/blackberry/Syrah light pencilly/oak slight unclean/bretty some complex finish; nice complexity and development at a great price; wouldn't risk holding longer; much bottle-to-bottle variation. $4.00
  8. Coloma Syrah ElDorado "Meatgrinder" (14.2%) P&B by Jarvistomei/Napa 2008: Dark color; strong blackberry/Syrah/grapey rather mushroomy/earthy/ElDorado light toasty/oak rather simple nose; soft earthy/mushroomy light blackberry/Syrah/plummy/grapey light toasty/oak simple flavor; med.short mushroomy/earthy slight blackberry/Syrah/grapey/plummy finish w/ light tannins; speaks of ElDorado terroir and rather pleasant/simple, but just that. $15.00
  9. Ridge Calif Zin PasoRobles BenitoDusiRanch/SLOCnty (5% PS; Bttld: Sept 2010; 14.8%;
    Drk: 7/10-7/15: EB) 2009
    : Dark color; lovely very strong blackberry/boysenberry/jammy/PR Zin/plummy light toasty/oak nose; slighhtly tart lush/rich plummy/blackberry/boysenberry/jammy/PR Zin loads of swet fruit almost framboise light toasty/oak flavor w/ modest tannins; very long plummy/blackberry/boysenberry/sweet PR Zin/jammy light toasty/oak framboise-like finish w/ modest tannins; loads of that sweet fruit/PR Zin character; classic ripe PR Zin w/o being over the top. $30.00
  10. Ridge Calif Zin OldSchool/IndependenceSchoolDistrict/SonomaCnty (100% Zin; 15.2%; 51 brls; Bttld: Mar'09; "significant residual sugar"; SaH: 28.3 Brix; Drk: 11/08-11/13-11/15: EB) 2007: Med.dark color; strong very ripe/blackberry/plummy/Zin/chocolaty slight herbal/Kansas feed store light pencilly/oak nose; soft bit hot/alcoholic/very ripe strong blackberry/raspberry/Zin rather sweet some Kansas feed store/herbal light pencilly/oak flavor w/ modest tannins; med.long soft very ripe/blackberry/chocolaty/raspberry/Zin slight herbal/feed store light pencilly/oak pretty sweet finish w/ modest tannins; pretty sweet on the palate but basically good Zin. $30.00
    Ridge Zins - March 23, 201
And the usual stuff from TheBloodyPulpit:

1. Jimsomare: This comes from the old remaining block of Zin on the Jimsomare/lower MonteBello Ranch. This is only made sporadically. Not sure where those grapes go in yrs they don't release a Jimsomare. Back in the old days (by crackey), back in the early '70's; the Jimsomare and Occidental Zins were Ridges biggest (and best, IMHO) Zins Ridge made. The Jimsomares tend to show an incredible spice-box character to them. I thought this '08 version was a bit lighter than the previous '07 version, but much the same exotic spiciness. It, to my taste, shows more purity of Zin fruit than do the more complex LyttonSprings or Geyserville; much the same purity of fruit you get in Dusi, w/o the intense blackberry/boysenberry fruit that you find in Dusi.
2. Geyserville: I think this is one of the better Geyservilles that Ridge has done in the 2000's. It seems to have more spiciness, more purity of Zin fruit, more balance than previous ones upon release. I get a bit amused by this search for "balance" that seems to be the hot-topic of the day in the Syrah and Pinot worlds. If anyone wants a great definition of balance, then Geyserville is always my go-to example. It's not a dramatic statement of Zin upon release, but that incredible balance it typically displays is probably what makes it so ageable.
3. Hamel: I haven't seen hide nor hare of KevinHaamel's Syrah around in yrs. I really liked them back in the late '90's and thought them fairly priced in the low-$30's. Low & behold, this '00 version showed up at our local SunflowerMarket for the absurd price of $10...for 3 btls!! I have no idea where this stash has been sitting over low those many yrs. This was the 2'nd of 3 btls I've tried. This first was a huge brett bomb and pretty near undrinkable. This btl showed a little brett, but was much better than the first one. I've had similar reports from others who have bought this wine...some very bretty...some very good. You pays your money...

The Vitis Allobrogica refers to at one time (afore Carole showed that Syrah was a cross from the Savoie of Deureza and MondeuseBlanche) there was some belief that Syrah was not a member of the Vitis Vinifera family. That has been shown to be incorrect.
4. Dusi: BeniDusi is one of the most likable farmers I ever done met. Must be in his '80's by now and still out there on the tractor. The Ridge Dusi/PR Zin is one of my favorite Zins out of PasoRobles year-in/year-out. When Ridge first started producing PasoRobles Zin back in the mid-'70's (by crackey; accompanied by a sound slap to the thigh and a loud guffaw), it was easily my least favorite Ridge Zin. They were harvested much earlier w/ alcohols in the 12% to low 13% range. They hard a hard chalky minerality (back afore minerality was highly desired in a wine) and a certain austerity to them that I didn't care for. Except for the occasional Dusi LatePick or Dusi LateHrvst, they now are typically in the upper-14% range and much more attractive; yet they seldom show that overripe/over-the-top jammy character that Paso reds can often show.
5. Old School: Back in the old days of Ridge (by crackey), this wine would have been labeled LateHrvst because of the high RS (2.7% in this case). For some reason, this wine was not labeled as a LateHrvst. It's easy to get blind-sided by this wine because of the RS unless you note Eric's "significant residual sugar" comment in the side-label. The wine is NOT bad wine....you just have to be forewarned that it is somewhat sweet and use it in the proper context. Some of the old Ridge LateHarvests were legendary, even w/ RS. My guess it was not labeled as LateHrvst
because it was not up to the standards of those LateHrvsts of yore, or that the folks at Ridge are so spooked by the high-alcohol/late-harvest AFWE fanatics out there that they'd be tarred & feathered. They shouldn't cave soeasily to those AFWE folks.


[Additional Wine Reviews from Tom Hill]


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