Wine producer profile: Ridge Vineyards, part 2 (05-03-2017 by Robert Jonasson and Nenad Jelisic)
Ridge Vineyards produces 34 different wines where Monte Bello and the Monte Bello Chardonnay are clearly the best ones. The entire wine portfolio is though very good and worth trying. The wines are produced as natural as possible without Ridge Vineyards, for that matter, is organic certified. Ridge Vineyards are striving to that the growing site be as much as possible reflected in the wine wherefore all the vineyards are vinified separately. The wine blends vary from year to year depending on the quality of the grapes from various vineyards for respective year. The work in the vineyards is focused to grow the most flavourful and concentrated grapes where nothing is left to chance. The winemaking is done with traditional methods, similar to those used in the "Old World" (Bordeaux, Burgundy, etc.). Unlike the "Old World" where French oak barrels are usually used, Ridge Vineyards always age the main part of its wines in oak barrels of American oak. Only native yeast is used. Although the traditional methods are usually used in the winemaking, to be able to make as good wines as possible Ridge Vineyards also uses the latest technology. One of these new technologies that Ridge uses is a new, highly sophisticated laboratory.
Ridge Vineyards, Estate Chardonnay, 2013, white dry wine, Santa Cruz Mountains, 2,5 NJP of 5,0 NJP
Ridge Vineyards Estate Chardonnay is one of two white wines that Ridge Vineyards produces. The wine is made of 100% Chardonnay from the Monte Bello vineyard. Grapes from seven of the ten parcels in the vineyard were used. The grapes are hand harvested, whole-cluster pressed and fermented on the native yeasts. The wine goes through malolactic fermentation and then it is aged in American oak barrels (85%) and French oak barrels (15%) on the lees for eleven months. 17% of the barrels are new. After assemblage, the wine is aged in four years old American oak barrels for four months. This is undoubtedly a good wine! Tropical fruits on the nose and a little buttery flavour, long aftertaste. If the oak barrel notes were better integrated with the wine and if the wine had a little higher acidity, Ridge Vineyards Estate Chardonnay 2013 would get a higher rating.
Ridge Vineyards, Monte Bello, Chardonnay, 2012, white dry wine, Santa Cruz Mountains, 4,0 NJP of 5,0 NJP
Just as the Estate Chardonnay, Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello Chardonnay is made of 100% Chardonnay from the Monte Bello vineyard. The grapes are hand harvested, whole-cluster pressed and fermented on the native yeasts. The wine goes through malolactic fermentation and then it is aged in American oak barrels (90%) and French oak barrels (10%) on the lees for seventeen months. 14% of the barrels are new. Monte Bello Chardonnay is only produced when Chardonnay from some parcel/parcels of the Monte Bello vineyard has/have a brilliant quality. In the 2012 vintage, the grapes where picked from 10 of the 10 parcels. Monte Bello Chardonnay 2012 is an amazing wine! A big step up the quality ladder compared with Estate Chardonnay. A great aroma of tropical fruits and citrus. A little buttery on the palate. The aftertaste is very long, with a refreshing acidity. Already now, the wine is elegant, well-balanced and complex despites its young age.
Ridge Vineyards, Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013, red dry blend wine, Santa Cruz Mountains, 4,0 NJP of 5,0 NJP
The grapes are hand harvested, and fermented on the native yeasts. 20% of the grapes are sorted by machine. The wine is made of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. It is aged for 20 months in American oak barrels, of which 48% are consisted of new oak barrels. Black ripe fruits, licorice and vanilla on the nose. Ridge Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 is a well-balanced, flavourful and concentrated wine that has a good tannin structure. It needs to be bottle aged for a few more years, but already now it is a very good wine.
Ridge Vineyards, Monte Bello, 2012, red dry blend wine, Santa Cruz Mountains, 5,0 NJP of 5,0 NJP
The grapes are hand harvested, sorted twice (by machine and by hand), destemmed and fermented on the native yeasts. The wine is aged in 98,5% new American oak barrels and 1,5% new French oak barrels for 16 months. Grapes for this wine were taken from 19 of 24 parcels of the Monte Bello-vineyard. The wine is a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 6% Petit Verdot. Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello 2012 is an exceptional wine, which is well-balanced, elegant, complex, concentrate and very fruity. A firework of aromas and flavors. Vineyards Monte Bello 2012 is still young and can be aged for many years, but it is fantastically good to drink already now, and will be even better with a few years of cellaring. This kind of wine experience you wish to have at every tasting.