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Ridge Vineyards makes wines that compete in terms of quality and desirability with Bordeaux First Growths and Grand Cru White Burgundies. Winemaker Paul Draper has crafted 43 vintages at Ridge and his practical, hands-off approach to winemaking has resulted in an exceptional and highly sought-after range of wines. Although a vineyard was first planted near the top of Monte Bello Ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1885, it lay abandoned until four Stanford Research Institute engineers bought it in 1959. Ridge Vineyards was formed in 1962 and Paul Draper was appointed as winemaker in 1969. After stunning the world by their triumph in the 1976 Judgement of Paris tasting, Ridge Vineyards shot to fame and gained cult status almost overnight.
Since then, Ridge has concentrated on producing fine Bordeaux blends and Chardonnays from Monte Bello's exalted terroir as well as renowned Zinfandels from the Lytton Springs and Geyserville vineyards in Sonoma County. Ridge's ethos is simple: 100% dedication in the vineyards to grow the most concentrated and flavoursome grapes followed by 100% dedication in the winery with minimum intervention to draw all the fruit's natural richness into the wine. Paul Draper has studiously dedicated himself to employing traditional Old World methods in the creation of his wines, resulting in silky smooth reds with fine tannins and glorious fruit. The wines are racked and fined but remain unfiltered so as not to lose any character before being matured in new American oak barrels. Ridge Monte Bello, once pure Cabernet, has been a Cabernet-dominated blend since 1975 with varying quantities, depending on the vintage, of Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc to add complexity to the final wine. The Monte Bello Chardonnay, arguably California's most respected white wine, is elegantly structured and rivals the finest White Burgundy Grand Crus. Since 1972 Ridge has also specialised in top-quality Zinfandel blends from the Lytton Springs and Geyserville vineyards in Sonoma County and in 1979 the Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet blend joined the range to offer a softer, earlier drinking companion to the famed Monte Bello.
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A wine of great balance, finesse and grace. Well-focused, the ripe, tart, rich blackberry and currant fruit is intense yet elegant, picking up earth, mineral and sage notes, and finishing with fine, well-integrated tannins (Wine Spectator, June 00)
A brilliantly focussed, classical Cabernet blend, approaching the moment when the fruit will blossom into the multi-layered complexity of a great Monte Bello. Decant well in advance of serving. "A wine of great balance, finesse and grace. Well-focused, the ripe, tart, rich blackberry and currant fruit is intense yet elegant, picking up earthy, mineral and sage notes, and finishing with fine, well-integrated tannins. Cab. Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab. Franc and Petit Verdot. Drink now through 2012." 92/100 pts. (Wine Spectator - Oct 2002)
Bottle 12 x 75cl
Paul Draper's masterpiece. Structured tannins, intense black fruits and pepper spice.
The 2011 Proprietary Red Geyserville (78% Zinfandel, 16% Carignan and the rest Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouchet and Mataro; 14% alcohol) was made from grapes harvested between September 21 and October 3. It reveals more stuffing than the Zinfandels as well as attractive earthy, briery, spicy fruit, pepper, meat and black cherry fruit. While it is not one of the legendary Geyserville efforts, it is a competent red wine to enjoy over the next 5-7 years: 2013 -2020 Robert M. Parker, Wine Advocate #209 Oct 2013
Ridge’s 2012 Proprietary Red Geyserville is a blend of 71% Zinfandel, 19% Carignan, 7% Petite Sirah and the rest Mourvédre and Alicante Bouchet. It exhibits a dark ruby/plum color, loads of berry fruit intermixed with earth, pepper and spice, and good freshness as well as precision. This sensual, spicy 2012 can be consumed over the next 5-6 years. 91/100 Robert M. Parker, eRobertParker.com #215 Oct 2014
Bottle 6 x 75cl
A perfect match for a late summer barbecue, the 2009 Lytton Springs is another fine vintage from the ultra consistent team at Ridge. Old vine Zinfandel forms the heart of the blend, with plenty of upfront, ripe fruit. Petit Syrah, often partners Zinfandel to provide a spine to the wines and the 21% here is perfectly judged to add some structure. A little Carignan fills out the framework and there is a touch of American oak as well. A fine all-rounder that is starting to hit its straps but will reward further cellaring. Fergus Stewart, Private Account Manager
Lovely perfume of Cassis and black plum fruit on the nose with a touch of earth, mocha, undergrowth. The palate is finely poised with a medium body, finely grained tannins and a very lifted acidity which gives an impression of a cool climate Cabernet and a lovely old world sensibility. A lovely well balanced Cabernet that will drink now perfectly with red meat but will keep another 3 – 5 years. Stuart Rae - Private Account Manager
The 2004 Monte Bello (76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, and the rest Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc) reveals a similar dark ruby/purple color, but it is not as thick looking as the 2003 or 2005. A lighter, more elegant example of Monte Bello, the finesse-styled 2004 does not possess the power one normally sees in this wine. It offers pure fruit, a pretty, St.-Julien-like style, notes of cedar, spice box, herbs, background oak, and red as well as black currants, and silky tannin. It is capable of lasting 15-20 years. Ridge’s iconic Monte Bello Proprietary Red (no longer called Cabernet Sauvignon) is one of the candidates for the longest-lived Bordeaux blend made in California. Even vintages from the late sixties and early seventies are still vibrant wines. The winery owns just over 100 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon vines, and production varies enormously based on the mountain climate. With respect to this group of wines, the smallest yields were achieved in 2005, and the highest in 2007. The selection process here is relatively severe. For their Monte Bello, the flagship wine, 32% of the production was used in 2003, 38% in 2004, 49% in 2005, 39% in 2006, and 41% in 2007. These wines continue to be anomalies in the sense that the Cabernet Sauvignon component is aged in American oak, a somewhat contrarian procedure since most top producers long ago moved to French oak. The Santa Cruz Mountains cuvees, essentially a second wine culled out from Monte Bello, are also high quality efforts from Ridge. Each of the vintages I tasted reflects the vintage conditions in the Santa Cruz Mountains. 91/100 Robert M. Parker Wine Advocate #187 Feb 2010
A great vintage for a perennially high class ‘Californian Cabernet’ has produced a wine of intense colour with ripe, dark fruit, well balanced tannins and a lovely seductive sweetness at the finish. Jancis Robinson goes so far as to describe it as “almost Lafite like in its raciness”.
Magnum 3 x 150cl