One of California’s modern-day pioneers, Ridge was established in 1962. Ridge’s first vineyard was Monte Bello Ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains; Ridge later acquired several other vineyards, including those of Lytton Estate. Cabernet and Zinfandel account for most of the production; Syrah, Grenache, Carignane, and Petite Sirah constitute a small percentage. Known primarily for its red wines, Ridge has also made limited amounts of Chardonnay since 1962. Wines are aged in American oak barrels, imparting a distinct flavor from French oak. Ridge’s best known bottlings include Monte Bello (a Cabernet-based blend), and Zinfandel-based wines from Geyserville, Lytton Springs and Pagani Ranch.
Without doubt this is a wine to cellar. It’s massive in flavor, with the purist blackcurrant and cassis fruit you can imagine, and the huge plaster of sweet oak is perfectly balanced. Then there are the tannins. They’re fine and complex, but gritty. There’s an astringency throughout that a great steak will cut through, but it would be infanticide to open this…
This Cabernet-Merlot blend is packed with blackberry and crème de cassis, with a firm minerality. With the weight of the middle palate and the long, spicy finish, it’s especially attractive, although it's also quite tannic. The only difference between this Estate Monte Bello Cabernet and Ridge's Monte Bello Estate Cabernet ($150; note the difference in the…
Amazingly intense and concentrated. Swamps the palate with pear and peach fruit, and a rich acidic structure. Oak plays a role in adding smoke, vanilla and sweet tannins. Long and penetrating, lush and vital. Combines power and subtlety in a rare way.
Anyone fond of power-packed, oaky California will go absolutely gaga over this gem from one of this country’s best wineries. Sweet vanilla, buttercream, bread dough and pronounced wood on the nose and an impressive flavor-to-body ratio make this an unbridled winner. Deft and flawless, this is a treat to drink. Filled with life, it will reward those who buy it by…
Almost evenly divided between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, this is a big mountain wine, filled with the flavors of ripe blackberries, blueberries and oak. It’s young in tannins and acids. It possesses an extraordinary sense of balance and intensity, but is probably best left to age until 2008.
Intensity is the name of the game here. Intensity of fruit, of oak, of creamy lees, of spices, of finish. The lush tropical fruit, vanilla and buttered toast flavors explode in the mouth, leading to a long and rich finish.
Paul Draper continues to label this bottling without a varietal designation—as he has since 1993—despite this vintage’s 80% Zinfandel. A dark, briary wine, this has plenty of everything you want in a Zin: berry fruit, mild acidity and a decent lashing of oak. Purely delicious, and Ridge’s best Lytton Springs of the past five years.
Balanced, rich and dramatic, this is another successful vintage for a wine that defines Sonoma Zin at its ripe, spicy best. Succulent in the mouth, brimming with black raspberry, cherry and black pepper flavors. Finishes dry and with great length, an extraordinary Zin from a great vineyard and producer. —S.H.