Browse Tag


Ridge lyin’

[geyserville]Ridge 2001 Geyserville (Sonoma County) — Unraveling a bit, but the yarn is still beautiful. Mixed berries, their acid more on display than usual, and a fraying oak/tannin structure. Drink soonish. (10/16)

Oak Boys

[geyserville]Ridge 1999 Geyserville (Sonoma County) — The second-to-last bottle of what was, once, a mighty two-case stash. This wine rounded into form somewhere between five and ten years ago, but I let the supply linger, ever mindful of the surprising ageability of many of the older Ridge zins and zin blends. There has been no clear pattern to those uncorked since; some were full of energy, others decidedly tired. (We all remain incredibly thankful for the unpredictability and inconsistency of natural cork, right?) This bottle was an interesting statistical outlier in that its structure was as dusty as old tomes in an abandoned library, but its fruit was far less advanced than any bottle of recent memory; plenty of sous bois, yes, but also many-layered wild berries atop that forested baritone. I couldn’t really recommend holding it any longer, but I admit that curiosity urges me to bury the last one for another decade, just to see what happens. (6/16)

Lytton foundation

[lytton springs]Ridge 1995 Lytton Springs (Dry Creek Valley) — While this site doesn’t produce the most graceful or complex of Ridge’s zin-heavy blends, it certainly remains the most stubborn among them. It’s the wine that makes one think, “I would have guessed it’s younger than that,” time and time again. Moreover, it often absorbs the perfumed oak that lays like dense humidity over wines like Geyserville, leaving the strong-willed fruit to do the enduring. So while there’s certainly been development towards the leathery oldberry character that is so often Lytton’s signature, the wine seems nowhere near senescence…and I would, indeed, have guessed it ten years younger than it really is. (4/16)


[lytton springs]Ridge 2013 Lytton Springs (Sonoma County) — Surprisingly accessible for a young Lytton, which is usually heavily structured and/or laden with the coconutty oak that’s the house style. Lytton is almost always one for the long haul…I might, in a feisty mood, argue that it outperforms Geyserville for sheer ageability…but this is already so fruit-forward and delicious, I wonder if it’s not a medium-term wine at most. Still, there’s certainly no rush. (4/16)


Ridge 2002 Zinfandel Ponzo (Russian River Valley) – A fine blend of berries and coniferous underbrush, pure-fruited yet just complex and peppery enough for sustained interest. While the fruit has more transformation to go, I think this is about at its optimum point regarding aromatic/structural balance. (8/12)


Ridge 2001 Zinfandel Pagani Ranch (Sonoma Valley) – 88% zinfandel, 8% alicante bouschet, 4% petite sirah. 15.4% alcohol, and brining every bit of that alcohol to the table on its eleventh birthday. This is pretty regularly my least favorite of Ridge’s “primary” zinfandel blends, though I suspect that the qualities that sometimes turn me off (excess alcohol, pruney fruit) are exactly what appeals to lovers of that periodically popular form of the grape. This is dark, grapey, plummy, and then it works itself into reduced boysenberry syrups and such that quickly reduce its appeal. The burn follows. I also wonder if holding it this long may have contributed to my ambivalence. (8/12)

Stone in love

Ridge 2002 Zinfandel Stone Ranch (Sonoma County) – 5% petite sirah, 14.8% alcohol. Quite woody, and it’s the kind of woodiness that’s not going to get better. Ridge zins have a terrific history of melding with their oak (that they ever shed or fully integrate it is, with rare exceptions, a myth; that “Draper perfume” is mostly aging wood), and with many such wines one just needs to submit to the proper patience, but this has already turned the corner towards oblivion. It’s not there yet, but the dark boysenberry jam – past maturity into a heavy, almost syrupy realm – is overwhelmed by coconut. Aging recommendations on Ridge labels, always so precise, can usually withstand a fair bit of extension, but this wine likely did not qualitatively outlast its drink-by date, which is a fair number of years in the past by now. (3/12)

Ridge 2002 Zinfandel Stone Ranch (Sonoma County) – Absolutely identical to the previous bottle, albeit just a slight touch smokier. Call it a confirmation. (5/12)

Oak Boys

Ridge 1995 Geyserville (Sonoma County) – 62% zinfandel. Oak perfume (I refuse to call Paul Draper a barrel, or even a tree), dust, and sweat. Silky blackberries on a bed of seeds and rocks. This is a wine at the perfect midpoint between post-primary fruit and maturity, with neither wresting the majority. (11/11)

Over hill and del

Ridge 1999 Zinfandel (Paso Robles) – 14.4% alcohol, 95% zinfandel. I basically go into older Ridge Paso Robles experiences expecting booze. I don’t get that there. Oh, it doesn’t lack alcohol, but despite the lack of, well, lack it’s more or less balanced in that lukewarm California-simmer style. The fruit has moved not an inch, but the oak has receded into “Draper perfume” (really just a euphemism for the lingering toasted coconut of maturing wood aromas). It’s nice, but aside from wood-shedding I’m not sure what the point of aging it was. (10/11)

Lytton around

Ridge 2006 Lytton Springs (Dry Creek Valley) – 80% zinfandel, 16% petite sirah, 4% carignan, 14.7% alcohol. For me, Lytton Springs is often the most difficult of the mainline Ridge zins to enjoy young, just because it’s so structured and muscular. So that this is drinking so spectacularly despite both those qualities being in firm evidence is more than a bit of a surprise. In fact, this is about the most exquisitely balanced young Lytton I’ve tasted, and even the youthful oak potpourri is restrained and elegant. Does this mean that the wine won’t age as long as some of the Lytton classics that have had their maturities measured in decades rather than years? The back label essay suggests it won’t, but it’s so enjoyable on the earlier side that I don’t think many will mind, as long as it’s not indicative of a trend away from the beautiful, long-aging wines of the past. (8/11)