Tasting Note: Ridge Vineyards 1992 Geyserville

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1. Introduction:
Ridge has made Geyserville as a single-site, Zinfandel-based vineyard blend every year since 1966.
Old Zinfandel vines grow side by side with their complementary varieties Carignane, Petite Sirah & Mourvedre on deep gravelly loam soils mixed with larger river rocks on the western edge of Alexander Valley.
It is the oldest vineyard Ridge cultivates with some vines more than 130 years old.
From a good Californian vintage, the 1992 Geyserville is a blend of 65% Zinfandel, 20% Carignane and 15% Petite Sirah.
Bottle and cork are flawless. 13,5% alc.

2. Appearance:
Deep and dark-red. Garnet.
Brightened rim, but overall still dense and powerful.

3. Nose:
Rich, but soft nose of Ripe, Dark Berries and mostly Cherries.
Forest and Earthy characteristics. A lot of Dark Chocolate and Tobacco.
Herbal Spiciness comes with Eucalypt and Mint.
Warm, plush and inviting with decent freshness!

4. Taste:
More Cherries and Ripe, Dense Red Fruit.
Dried Herbs, Earthy characters and some Tobacco.
Little Sweetness, Dancing Acidity and Soft Tannin structure.
Finishes medium-long with Present Spiciness and Warm Fruit
Silky mouthfeel, nice complexity and perfect harmony!

5. Opinion:
Beautiful integrated mature Zinfandel. Started off a bit rugged, but after some time in the decanter the wine softened and found its great balance and harmony.
Elegant, fully integrated, but with a very alive structure.
What amazing soft and sweet aromatics!
Highly drinkable now and doesn´t get any better…probably 🙂

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Tasting Note: Ridge Vineyards 1997 Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon

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1. Introduction:
This is the wine which Ridge started calling “Estate Cabernet Sauvignon” with the 2008 vintage to put more emphasis on the Monte Bello vineyard as its source and its main varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon. It´s Ridge´s “second wine” coming from the same vineyard with its green stone soils mixed with clay over fractured lime stone sub-soils as their legendary Monte Bello.
As the more structured, ageworthy wines are assembled as Monte Bello, the softer and more approachable parcels make up the Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet.
1997 was an exceptional vintage in California and all parcels of the Monte Bello vineyard produced dark, ripe and structured wines and, thereby, produced an outstanding second wine with great potential as well.
The 1997 Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon is a vineyard blend of 75% Cabernet.
Bottle and cork are flawless. 12,5% alc.

2. Appearance:
Deep and dark-red. Garnet.
Dense, vital and powerful colors with no signs of aging.

3. Nose:
Play of Dark Berries- mostly Cassis. Some Black Cherries and Fruit in Rum.
Multilayered secondary & tertiary characters of Earth, Tar, Tobacco and Oak come with beautiful hints of Lovage and Fresh Herbs. Some Eucalypt.
Soft and fresh with nice harmony and intensity!

4. Taste:
Cassis and other Dark Berries. Cedar.
Dark Chocolate. Smoky traces, Leather and Oak. Mild Spices and Exotic Perfume.
Vital Freshness with decent Green Notes. Minerality (!)
Finishes long and beautiful with Dark-red Fruit, Coolness, Soft Tannins, Little Acidity and Peppery Spiciness.
Nicely integrated structure with great complexity and pleasant mouthfeel!

5. Opinion:
Very alive wine with a perfect integrated structure!
Intensely colored, complex, harmonious, concentrated and fresh Cabernet from a very good year with great play of ripe fruit and secondary (tertiary) characteristics.
This doesn´t get better, but is capable of plenty more years in your cellar.

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Tasting Note: Ridge Vineyards 2009 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

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1. Introduction:
Ridge Vineyards` Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from the Monte Bello Estate vineyard, situated about 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean, sitting high atop the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, in California’s coolest cabernet producing area.
The 2009 wine is a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon and 23% Merlot.
Bottle and cork are flawless.

2. Appearance:
Shining, deep and dark garnet. Vital and dense.

3. Nose:
Intensive and fresh aromas of Cassis, Blackberry and Cherry.
Floral characteristics of mostly Violets paired with Dried Herbs.
Some Tobacco, hints of Sweet Vanilla. Present Eucalypt and Cedar.
Attractive, cool and fresh nose!

4. Taste:
Dark red Berries and Cherries come with Exotic Spices.
Eucalypt, Oak and Minerality.
Finishes long with beautiful Fruit, vital acidity and grippy tannins.
Nicely integrated structure with complexity and- again- freshness.

5. Opinion:
A fantastic medium- to full-bodied wine!
Still young, it drinks great now, but is also good for many many years in the cellar.
Good potential, great structure and the typical Ridge- Coolness!

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@Ridge, November 2012

CellarTV in brief II.: About Old Vines

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Old Zinfandel vines in Ridge´s Lytton Springs Vineyard

The Magic of Old Vines

Ironically, most of the world´s oldest vines are growing in the New World, where the vineyards have not been destroyed by phylloxera. As vintners speak about old vines, they usually mean vines that are older than 20 or 30 years. That is around the time in the life of a vine, when yields are decreasing and their value is economically questioned.
But what is so special about old vines and, furthermore, so special about the ancient vines in some parts of the New World, where vines and vineyards are 100 or even 150+ years old, like some of the Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards in South Australia, Argentina´s Malbec vines or California´s Zinfandel in Sonoma County or Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley?
It cannot be coincidence that mostly top producers have their hands on these specific vineyards.
There are two significant reasons that sum up the great value of old vines.

The first substantial argument for producing wine from old vines is measurable and closely connected to wine quality.
Old vines are low-yielding and, thereby, produce small, but highly concentrated berries. Their roots go deep – sometimes very deep with 15 (50) to 20 meters (65feet) or more -, their trunks and barks are thick. Due to this, these vines are able to soak up and store more minerals and nutrients than young vines; nutrients and minerals, which are also released into the berries. Thereby, these berries deliver complex, more complete and intensely flavor extracts. The result is harmonious wine, with great complexity, intensity and depth which expresses its specific vineyard site.

Secondly, old vines and their vineyards have a very distinct history and long tradition. Customers value these aspects of tradition and authenticity while, as a consequence, wineries bring their Old Vine– Wines to the market while underlining these emotional values.
Besides, along with this tradition often comes a lot of experience in how to get the best out of the old vineyard.
As multigenerational wineries have gained a deep knowledge about their vines and terroir over the years, they are, by that, able to raise the wine quality.

Well, isn´t it simply magical to drink a wine from ancient vines, while feeling and really tasting the terroir of decades?

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The about 150 year-old Shiraz Vines in Henschke´s Hill of Grace Vineyard

Tasting Note: Ridge Vineyards 1981 Monte Bello

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1. Introduction:
Ridge´s Monte Bello is often called America’s First Growth, as it is one of the finest examples of a classic Bordeaux blend produced in the United States- including Napa Valley!
The Monte Bello vineyard ranges in elevation from 1300 feet to 2700 feet above sea level and is composed of unique green stone and clay soils layered over decomposing limestone. Limestone is not found in the well-known Cabernet producing areas of Napa and Sonoma Valley, making the soil composition at Monte Bello a unique and important contributor to the wine’s distinctive character
(see ridgewine.com/vineyards).
Traditionally a Monte Bello comes with complexity, depth, structure and balance as well as great ageability.
So, as always when tasting a Monte Bello, expectations are great!
Let´s see what our perfect looking 1981 bottle can do.
It was bought directly from the library stock at Monte Bello Estate in the Santa Cruz Mountains and, therefore, cellared under perfect conditions over the last more than thirty years.

2. Appearance:
Light red. Transparent with obvious signs of age. Brown to orange edges.

3. Nose:
Cedar, Earth still with present Fruit Characters of Dark Berries, Cherries.
Some Vegetables, like Celery. Hints of Sweetness.
The nose is very interesting, even though more unobtrusive than intense!

4. Taste:
Play of Cassis and Cherry with secondary characters of Graphite, Earth and Dried Leaves. Watery mouthfeel and thin on the palate. Fully integrated tannins.
First impression was quite interesting, but instead of evolving, the taste more or less faded over the 3 hours of tasting.

5. Opinion:
Obviously, this was one of the weaker bottles of Monte Bello, which unfortunately had passed its zenith.
Still, a very interesting wine, which – if still in your cellar – should be consumed within the next years!

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