Author: Andrew Stark

Ridge Vineyards

Grower Profile; Ridge Vineyards

Pre-Industrial Winemaking…

Ridge Vineyards…… this is how Ridge Vineyards choose to refer to their winemaking ethos, in contrast to what they see as the more industrial, modern methods employed by many winemakers nowadays.
It’s 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.

Ridge Valley 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.

Ridge VineyardsThe history begins in 1885, when Osea Perrone, a doctor, bought 180 acres near the top of Monte Bello Ridge, producing the first vintage under Ridge Vineyard’s name in 1892. It subsequently 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 Draper has continued to produce 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 VineyardsRidge 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.

Ridge Monte Bellow Chardonnay

Chardonnay, Santa Cruz, Monte Bello Ridge Vineyards 2013

A true gem, the 2013 Chardonnay Monte Bello, which was barrel fermented and aged 17 months in mostly American oak, offers sensational notes of white peach, citrus blossom, mint, ginger and baking spices. It’s a big, rich wine, yet it never puts a foot wrong, is impeccably balanced and stays fresh, pure and focused. Drink it anytime over the coming decade or more. (Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate)

Zinfandel, Lytton Springs, Sonoma Ridge Vineyards 2015

Zinfandel, Lytton Springs, Sonoma, Ridge Vineyards 2015

Jammy raspberry fruit with pepper, mint and sweet toasted oak. Brambly fruit on the palate, sensuous, well-defined tannins and balanced acidity. 74% Zinfandel, 16% Petite Sirah, 8% Carignan, 2% Mataro (Mourvedre)

Monte Bello, Santa Cruz (98+ Parker) Ridge Vineyards 2009

Monte Bello, Santa Cruz (98+ Parker) Ridge Vineyards 2009

The 2009 Monte Bello ,72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot is simply magnificent. Layers of dark red fruit, flowers, spices and graphite are all woven together in this utterly impeccable wine. The 2009 is an especially huge, intense Monte Bello, yet a sexy, silky core of fruit lies within its imposing frame. Everything comes together in this glorious, radiant wine. Last year the 2009 had some pretty stiff competition from the 2010, but today it is simply firing on all cylinders. Eric Baugher describes 2009 as a year with cold weather early on, followed by heat in early June and July. The fruit was brought in on October 12, just before an intense downpour swept through the region. There is a purity and silkiness supported by structure in the 2009 that is impossible not to admire. Simply put, this is another utterly magnificent, towering masterpiece from Ridge. Anticipated maturity: 2019-2049. (Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate)

Wright Wine Company Team - Gemma CrangleThis month’s Wine Grower profile was by self-confessed wine-geek, Gemma Crangle.