Being a Beltramo’s employee I’ve been allowed to taste some exquisite wines. Every once in a while a producer will come through that gets me really excited. Rarer still, is when that producer can exceed my expectations. This very thing happened a few weeks ago when a representative from Ridge came by with the new fall releases. I’ve always been a huge fan of Ridge—even more so when I went to visit the tasting room in Cupertino. So you can imagine my excitement when they arrived. I was simply blown away, so much so that I knew right away what my next blog post would be. So here’s my take on a standout producer’s wonderful wines.
First on the block was the 2010 Monte Bello Chardonnay ($59.99). Sourced from their Monte Bello Vineyard, this Chardonnay is rich and creamy without being over-the-top. On the nose there is a hint of butter and caramel. The butter carries through on the tongue, but with an added hint of brown sugar. This is a slightly fruit-forward wine that has some good acidity to balance it out. I suggest this wine with a nice creamy chicken dish.
Next I tried the 2011 Ponzo Zinfandel ($27.99). This wine has the highest percentage of Zinfandel (97%) with a little Petite Sirah to flesh it out. The vineyard hales from the Russian River Appellation, which is a cooler climate than Zinfandel is used to. Because of this the fruit is restrained and the tannins are showy. On the nose there is a smokiness that was very pleasant. Marshmallow and cassis also waft up. This wine has wonderful structure, has nice tannin, and is perfect for barbeque. You’ll be delighted by the subtle hints of pepper and cassis.
Next up was the 2011 Pagani Ranch Zinfandel ($31.99). The vineyard is located in the Sonoma Coast Appellation. Again a cooler climate predominately used for pinot noir, this wine was a little more fruit-forward than I was used to. The blend is 78% Zinfandel, 18% Alicante, 3% Petite Sirah, and 1% Mataro (Mourvedre). On the nose I found some enticing cherry and vanilla flavors, as well as some wonderful aromatics. This wine is a bit restrained in its tannins, but has great acidity to keep you interested. I also found hints of black fruit that were very pleasing. I think that this wine is good now, but will be great in a couple of years. Get ready to fire up the ‘Que, because this wine is begging for some ribs.
The last of the Zinfandels was the 2011 Lytton Springs ($34.99). You can find this vineyard in the Dry Creek Valley Appellation of Sonoma. The blend is 82% Zinfandel, 16% Petite Sirah, and 2% Carignane. The nose was fresh, vibrant, and aromatic. While it is fruit-forward—juicy even—this wine is not jammy. It has great structure, has a wonderful hint of fresh berries, and is just plain delicious. If you’re used to the fruit-bombs of Lodi and Amador County but want something a little different for a change, I recommend this offering. This wine is flat out amazing.
Finally, what blog post about Ridge would be complete without a mention of Monte Bello? For those of you who’ve tried previous vintages, the 2010 Monte Bello ($159.99, available in store only) doesn’t disappoint. Of all the wines I’ve had the pleasure of tasting, this has to be my favorite. The vineyard is located in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains where the frequent fog prevents the grapes from over-ripening. This leads to a very balanced wine full of complexity and character. On the nose there is a rush of leather followed by hints of cocoa and cassis. The wine itself is silky smooth and perfectly balanced with neither tannin nor acid dominating the palate. It is dry and dusty with hints of berry and cassis to make for a thoroughly enjoyable experience. In my opinion, Monte Bello is perfect Cabernet Blend.
So there you have it: Ridge does it again with an amazing line-up of first class wines. I hope to see you in the store so I can give even more effusive praise to California’s First Growth producer. Happy times and happy drinking! Cheers!
Rob R., Beltramo’s Wine Consultant