Browse Tag

sonoma county

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 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)

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)

Caught a code

Revenant 2008 Zinfandel Morse (Sonoma County) – Yes, it’s zin. Frothy fruit (not sparkling in any way, but tactile in the manner of Pop Rocks), some coconut, a bit of spiritousness. More restrained than, say, the sometimes painfully forced version that are exploding from Lodi and other less expensive terroirs these days, but while I generally consider restraint and zin to be welcome partners, I’m not sure much has been done with that restraint. There’s nothing particular wrong here, but one can do a lot better elsewhere. (6/11)

Ride it

Ridge 2006 Zinfandel East Bench (Sonoma County) – 14.9%. Chunky and difficult, which is probably just a stage; this has been much more expressive in the recent past, and there’s no sign that this is falling apart yet. What’s showing now is dust, both the mineralistic and dried-berry kind, with a resinous texture and several dashes of coconutty oak…though the latter is rounding into something more vanilla-y. I’d say this needs a few more years to come out of its shell, but other bottles may perform differently. (5/11)

Blow it open

Ridge 1999 Geyserville (Sonoma County) – 14.8%. Bottle variations has been strong with this wine of late, and here is no exception. Brutish and still angrily-structured, this hasn’t delivered itself of dark purple fruit yet, though there’s bubbling-under set of pepper dusts and earthen tones,. While the “Draper perfume” of soft oak is evident, it is quite subordinate to fruit and structure at the moment. Bottles like this will age for quite a few years yet. And some are ready to go. (2/11)

Zabaco noir

Rancho Zabaco 2007 Zinfandel “Sonoma Heritage Vines” (Sonoma County) – 14.9%. Very simplistic and bearing the hallmarks of confection…very primary and singular dark berries with no complexity or life. It’s entirely competent wine, but entirely uninteresting as a result. (11/10)


Ravenswood 1999 “Icon” (Sonoma County) – 13.9% alcohol, 73% syrah, 16% mourvèdre, 11% grenache, and 100% heralding the ubiquitous plague of fat-bottomed bottles that fit or stack nowhere. Much more decent than I’d expected, but then I didn’t expect much. It tastes like generic semi-aged California wine, which is to say it’s still simplistically dark-fruited with most of the structure polished away, yet has gained no real complexity or interest over its youthful self. Yes, it’s still not very old, but given that the structure has already faded I see no indication that longer aging will do more than damage to the wine. There’s an element of greenness to it that I’d like to think might be complexity in a differently-composed wine, but I don’t expect green in California versions of any of the above-listed grapes, and so I’m inclined to think that the grapes weren’t all they could have been. Which might account for an alcohol level that, through the lens of today’s monstrosities, seems entirely reasonable. (10/10)