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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.

Ridge Wines - September 26, 2012

We tried last night (9/26/12) Some Ridges/Mostly Carignanes  Sept 26, 2012:

  1. Ridge Chard MonteBelloEstateVnyd/SantaCruzMtns (14.2%; SaH: 23.2 Brix; Bttld: Feb 2012; Drk:
    11/11-11/16-11/17: EB) 2010
    : Med.light gold color;very strong melony/Chard/ripe/pineapply/spicy
    light vanilla/toasty/oak really lovely nose; fairly tart light earthy/chalky/mineral ripe/melony/
    Chard/pineapply very spicy/nutmeg light vanilla/pencilly/oak flavor; very long bright/ripe/melony/
    pineapply/Chard light earthy/chalky very spicy/nutmeg finish; a really lovely bright Chard w/ lots
    of spiciness; very attractively priced at $36.00
  2. Ridge Calif DryCreek Sangiovese (85% Sangio/10% CabFranc/5% CabSauvg; 13.7%; LyttonWest/DryCreekVlly; 35 brls; Bttld: Jan'98; Drk: 12/98-12/99-12/03-12/04: PD) 1996: Med.light color w/ slight bricking; totally TCA/musty/corked nose w/ nothing else; very tart/tangy slight cherry quite earthy/musty/ TCA-infected flavor; one of the most corked wines I've had; too bad. $20.00 (ATP)
  3. Ridge Zin CarmichaelRanch (4% PS; AlexVlly/SonomaCnty; 45 brls; 14.2%; Bttld: 5/11; Drk: 9/10-9/15: EB) 2009: Med.color; attractive spicy/raspberry/Zin light earthy/licorice strong vanilla/Am.oak bit simple nose; soft strong vanilla/oak strong/pretty/floral/raspberry/Zin/spicu bit simple flavor; med.long strong vanilla/Am.oak strong raspberry/Zin/spicy finish w/ light tannins; a pretty/balanced/raspberry Zin but a bit on the simple side; pretty Zin but just that and only slightly above the 3Vllys level. $28.00 (ATP)
  4. Ridge Zin OldSchool (100% Zin; 78% Zin/14% Carignane/8% PS; SonomaCnty; 15.2%; 33 brls; Bttld: Mar 2011; Drk: 12/10-12/15-12/16-??: EB) 2009: Med.dark color; strong vanilla/smokey/oak intense blackberry/Zin/ boysenberry some spicy/peppery slight fumey/alcoholic nose; soft ripe/blackberry/Zin/spicy bit peppery some Ridge/vanilla/oak bit alcoholic flavor w/ modest tannins; very long spicy/peppery/blackberry/Zin rather Ridge/vanilla/oak finish w/ light tannins; quite nice Zin w/ lots of spiciness but not as structured/balanced/complex as Geyserville $30.00 (ATP)
  5. Ridge Calif Zin BuchignaniRanch/SonomaCnty (81% Zin/19% Carignane; 15.4%; 43 brls; Bttld: 12/09; Yield: < 2 tons/acre; Drk: 8/09-8/16-8/17: JO) 2008: Med.dark color; rather attractive spicy/blackberry/ Zin light earthy/dusty/old vine light Ridge/vanilla/oak nose; fairly tart bright/spicy/blackberry/Zin light dusty/OV some vanilla/oak flavor w/ slight tannins; long bright/spicy/blackberry/Zin/earthy/dusty some vanilla/Ridge/oak finish w/ light tannins; does not show its alcohol; quite a nice/pretty Zin. $28.00 (ATP)
  6. Ridge BuchignaniRanch Carignane (100% HillsideGrown/OldVine; SonomaCnty; 14.1%; 44 brls; Bttld: Dec2010; Drk: 8/10-8/14-8/15: JO) 2009: Dark color; rather earthy/dusty/mushroomy some cherry/black cherry/Carignane bit rustic pleasant nose; soft bit hard/tannic/bitey some cherry/cherry cough drp rather earthy/rustic/ coarse light vanilla/oak flavor; long rather earthy/rustic/mushroomy somewhat grapey/cherry/cherry cough syrup some hard/tannic/bitey finish; lots of cherry cough drop character w/ an underlying coarse/rustic character; interesting coarse wine but just that. $26.00 (ATP)
  7. Ridge Calif BuchignaniRanch Carignane (Old vine, planted 1927-1953; 13.9%; 43 brls; Drk: 8/09-
    8/13-8/14: JO) 2008
    : Med.dark color; rather dusty/OV/pungent/ozone bit black cherry/Carignane light Ridge/ vanilla/oak some complex nose; fairly tart bit bright cherry/Carignane/blackberry dusty/OV/pungent light vanilla/ oak bit coarse/earthy flavor; med.long bit cherry/Carignane some vanilla/Am.oak light earthy/dusty/OV finish w/ light tannins; a bit on the earthy/coarse side; pleasant enough but just that. $26.00
  8. Ridge Calif Carignane BuchignaniRanch (oldVine/HillSideGrown; 14.4%; 49 brls; House & Top blocks of 5 parcels; Drk: 8/08-8/12-8/13: JO) 2007: Med.dark color; light toasty/smokey/oak/vanilla some spicy/black cherry/Carignane bit rustic/earthy somewhat attractive nose; bit tart slight hard/tannic spicy/cherry/black cherry cola/Carignane some earthy/rustic/coarse light vanilla/oak flavor; med. cherry/Carignane/black cherry cola some vanilla/smokey/oak rather earthy/coarse/rustic finish w. modest tannins; pleasant drinking but not very interesting. $26.00 (ATP)
  9. Ridge Calif Carignane BuchignaniRanch (OldVine/HillsideGrown; 75 yr old head trained;
    13.8%; SonomaCnty; 44 brls; www.RidgeWine.com; Drk: 11/07- 11/11- 11/12) 2006
    : Med.color w/ slight bricking; attractive earthy/dusty/OV some cherry/Carignane/cola slight coarse/rustic/earthy light spicy/cinammon light vanilla/oak nose; bit tart some bright/cherry/Carignane/cherry cola light earthy/rustic/coarse/OV light vanilla/ oak flavor w/ some tannic bite; med.long rather cherry/Carignane/cherry cola earthy/rustic/OV/dusty light vanilla/oak finish w/ light tannins; probably about as good as a Ridge Carignane is gonna get. $25.00 (ATP)
  10. Ridge Calif Carignane BuchignaniRanch (14.6%; 48 brls; www.RidgeWine.com; Vines planted
    1927-1952; 100%; Drk: 10/06- 10/11) 2005
    : Med.light color; rather attractive smokey/toasty/oak some cedary/ pencilly/old Zin light cherry/Carignane bit complex nose; soft/smooth rather pencilly/cedary/oak/old Zin rather toasty/smokey/oak light cherry/cola/Carignane flavor w/ light tannins; med.long smokey/toasty/oak rather cedary/ pencilly/old Zin light cherry/Carignane bit complex finish w/ little tannins; showing nice cedary/old Zin/oldRed character and quite smooth; my favorite of these Carignanes. $24.00 (ATP)
  11. Ridge Calif Carignane BuchignaniRanch (13.5%; 44 brls; www.RidgeWine.com; Drk: 9/05-
    9/09-9/10) 2004
    : Med.color; slight earthy/barnyardy/rustic/coarse light cherry/Carignane some cedary/pencilly/ old Zin bit complex nose; tart smooth rustic/earthy/coarse bit barnyardy/leathery light cherry/Carignane light cedary/pencilly/old Zin bit dried out/tired/tannic/bitey flavor; med.long some earthy/rustic/barnyardy/leathery slight cherry/Carignane some pencilly/old Zin/cedary/complex finish w/ bit astringent/dried out aftertaste; starting to go around the bend. $24.00 (ATP)
  12. Ridge Calif CabSauvg Jimsomare/KleinRanch (100% CabSauvg; MonteBelloRidge/SantaCruzMtns; 12.9%; 30 brls; Bttld: April '97; Drk: 3/97-3/02-3/07: PD) 1995: Med.dark color w/ slight bricking; very strong herbal/leafy/tea some blackcurranty/herbal/earthy/loamy rather toasty/oak/coffee bean light pungent/smokey/ozone nose; tart bit green/underripe strong herbal/leafy/Cab bit hard/tannic slight bretty/unclean/mushroomy/earthy toasty/smokey/oak flavor; med.long somewhat green/underripe/herbal/earthy slight blackcurranty/Cab rather toasty/coffee/smokey/oak finish w/ rather hard/tannic aftertaste; seems on the underripe side annd has not developed the grace and
    complexity I would have hoped for. $24.20 (ATP)
  13. Ridge Calif PetiteSirah DynamiteHill/YorkCreekVnyd/SprintMtnDist/NapaVlly (100% PS; 13.8%; 14.5%; Bttld: Nov 2008; Drk: 8/08-8/18-8/23: EB) 2006: Very dark/black color; intense blackberry/peppery/PS/very spicy strong vanilla/toasty/oak some earthy/dusty/OV rather old-timey PS nose; tart rather hard/tannic quite peppery/PS/ blackberry/earthy/dusty strong vanilla/oak/toasty/ smokey old-timey PS flavor; very long strong peppery/blackberry/ PS strong vanilla/smokey/oak spicy/peppery fairly hard/tannic finish; plenty of fruit and sort of an old-timey PS that needs much age; should go out another 15 yrs; reminds me a bit of the '75 YorkCreek. $30.00
  14. Slight of Hand TheSpellbinder ColumbiaVlly RW (36% CS/33% CabFranc/20% Merlot/5% Sangio; 13.6%) 2010: Very dark color; strong charred/toasty/burnt/oak bit alcoholic strong blackcurranty/ Cab/plummy huge fruit nose; soft very ripe/lush/blackcurranty/Cab/plummy bit chocolaty very strong burnt/charred/oak flavor w/ modest tannins; very long soft/ripe/lush intense blackcurranty/plummy/ Cab/earthy very strong burnt/charred/toasty/oak slight tannic finish; lots of very ripe fruit and loads of charred oak and a bit lacking in structure; a rather soft/floppy sort of Cab but very fairly priced. $23.00

And the usual long/boring from the BloodyPulpit:

1. Chard: I really took a liking to this wine. Not as intense as the MonteBello bttlg, not as much oak. But a very bright/lively Chard that reflects the SCM terroir very well.
2. ATP Zins: This is a whine I directed at DonnReisen for many a year. These are smaller lots of Zins that I expect something special from. Very often, they are not. In general, I seldom find they measure up to the regular Ridge Zins (LyttonSprgs/Geyserville/Pagani/Dusi). Are the vnyds not as good? Do they not put as much resources/effort into the? Are the yields higher? Not sure exactly what the reason is. The Jimsomare Zin is probably the sole exception. Admittedly, they're not priced as high as the regular Zins. But, all too often, they just don't seem as thrilling as the regular Zins. Not bad Zins...just nothing that special. Maybe my expectations are too high.

That said, these ATP Zins have an uncanny knack of, down the road w/ a few yrs of age upon them, rising up and biting you in the a$$ how good they are....sometimes. The BuchignaniZin '08 was just such a wine. When I tasted it when it first arrived last year, it was just another nice Ridge Zin...maybe a small step above the 3Vllys.
3. Carignane: The Ridge Carignane is a wine that has long puzzled/perplexed me. It is, consistently, my least favorite wine of all the Ridges. Every time I taste some Ridges w/ EricBaugher, he urges me to give the Carignane another shot. He's not yet convinced me to change my view. That said, I think the the Ridge Carignane is about the best Carignane made in Calif. I've had a few from Priorat and Languedoc that I liked better...but in a much different style from what Ridge makes.

When young, the Ridge Carignanes tend to have a hard/tannic/bitey edge to them. The fruit seems to be mostly of the cherry kind. They seem to have a coarse/rustic character to them and lack the bright/high-toned notes you get in the Zins. And they seldom seem to develop much interesting character as they age...and seem to mature on a pretty fast track. Maybe..just maybe...you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear after all.

So...when my '10 Buchignani Carignane lands on my doorstop next month, I'll just roll my eyes, groan a bit...and try yet another one. Sorry, Eric.
4. DynamiteHill: This is the last YorkCreek PS that Ridge will make. They gave up these grapes to FritzMaytag who can get a much better price than what Ridge was paying in a sweetheart deal. So sad....because the Ridge YorkCreek PS was one of the iconic PS's in Calif. At least, they're going out w/ a bang. This is one of the better YC PS's I've had of late. Resembles somewhat the '75 YC PS to my recollect. I don't think their LyttonSprings PS's quite measure up to any of the YorkCreeks.


[Additional Wine Reviews from Tom Hill]


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