Category: Wine Grower Profile

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.
Chateau Musar

Grower Profile; Chateau Musar

When you think of the turmoil Lebanon must have gone through during the civil war (1975-1990), to have continued producing wine to the same high standards, is incredible.

Chateau Musar kept on producing wines during this time, even when the cellars doubled up as an air-raid shelter! A wonderful estate in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, and one of the most respected estates anywhere in the world, Chateau Musar has emerged as a UK favourite for its robust and savoury individualistic style. This domaine, under the guidance of the late Serge Hochar (and in its origination with his father Gaston who founded the “Chateau” in 1930), combined an intriguing mix of Bordeaux and Rhône varietals, a practice continued to this day.

The winery was established way back in 1930 by Gaston Hochar, after returning from Bordeaux, and has remained in the family ever since – with sons Ronald and Serge (who sadly passed away in 2014) being involved with running the business.

Serge Hochar

Despite the civil war and unrest in the region, wine has been produced at Chateau Musar every year, with the sole exception of the 1976 vintage. (Wine wine was made in 1984 and 1992, however 1984’s was never released, and 1992 was declassified due to a weak vintage.)



In true homage to the work of the late owner, and our great working relationship, we are delighted to offer an extensive range of library vintages, with the 1999 having been compared by a few to the great vintage of 1959, and to be honest, there are not many places you will find a wine of this quality and vintage at less than £36 a bottle. And it has always held a special place here at The Wright Wine Company. In fact, it was one of the first wines (the 1982 vintage) that owner, Julian Kaye, ever laid down.

We were recently fortunate enough to have a tutored tasting in our shop with Elliott from Chateau Musar. Blown away by every single wine and intrigued by the fact that all of the vintages have their own unique identity, we agreed that the 1999 vintage was truly special, indeed a world class wine.

Chateau Musar Red 1999

A blend of Cinsault, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon, as with all Chateau Musar vintages, this exceptional wine shows intensely ripe cassis and cherry fruit on the nose with secondary characteristics of mushroom and forest undergrowth followed by a hint of vanilla and chocolate. The excellent acidity and firm, ripe tannins result in a wine which appears much fresher and more youthful than 20 years old.

Chateau Musar White 2010

Wholly unique, the style has been described as resembling ‘dry Sauternes’ or mature white Graves and indeed the cellar at Ghazir holds bottles of this wine dating as far back as 1954. Seven years in the making, Chateau Musar White is a blend of ancient grape varieties Obaideh and Merwah, indigenous to the mountains of Lebanon and said to be related to Chasselas Chardonnay and Semillon. Fermented and aged partly in oak and partly in stainless steel, there’s lemony, Sémillon-like fruit on the palate, a white Rhône-like peachiness and a touch of oxidative savouriness on the finish. It’s quirky and an acquired taste but, in our opinion, it’s one worth acquiring. If you like Bordeaux whites, try this!

Chateau Musar Rosé 2016

Merwah (40%) and Obaideh (57%) as a base wine with 3% Cinsault to add colour and complexity. Just as in Champagne, a small amount of red wine is blended with white to create this delicate, yet complex and age worthy still rosé wine. The Chateau Musar Rosé was originally conceived in 1994 by the late Serge Hochar as a tribute to his love for the great rosés of Champagne. The freshness and youth in this 2016 vintage lend a vibrant acidity to balance the unexpected richness and complexity of the wine, though both will develop with time and integrate seamlessly with the oak element. An ideal aperitif wine, though also suited to seafood, charcuterie and washed-rind cheeses.

Download our Chateau Musar grower profile, complete with listing of our full Musar range – Red, White and Rosé wines. For red wine lovers, there’s over 30 vintages going back to 1997.
Wright Wine Company Team - Gemma CrangleThis month’s Wine Grower profile was by self-confessed wine-geek, Gemma Crangle.