"I am a huge fan of the Ridge label and love the consistency across the brand."

I barely made it onto the list for a tasting of wines from one of my all time favorite wineries, Ridge Vineyards.  It virtually sold out immediately and I went on the waiting list and got lucky enough to score a couple of seats.  Winemaker Eric Baugher was on hand to discuss Ridge and walk us through the tasting.  Ridge Vineyards is based in two different wineries in California, the Monte Bello estate in the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Lytton Springs property in Sonoma.  I have had the pleasure of visiting the Sonoma property and hope to visit the legendary Monte Bello estate at some point.  Ridge is renowned for many things, it’s Monte Bello Cabernet is one of the most legendary classic Cabernet’s in California and was part of the historic 1976 Judgement in Paris wine tasting where California wines bested many top French wines.  It is also known for it’s excellent array of Zinfandels, 15 different bottlings in total.  Most of all, they are known for leading the way in California for single vineyard bottlings of all their wines.  At a time when most wineries simply bottled different vineyards together as one blend, Ridge recognized the importance of each individual site as being unique and only bottle wine according to the specific vineyard sites.  On each Ridge bottle is a description of the vineyard, the percentage of grapes, notes on harvest and wine making as well.  The bottlings are field blends, that is, for example a Zinfandel will be predominantly Zinfandel, but may contain smaller percentages of other grapes grown on the same parcel.  I have had many bottles of Ridge over many years, it would probably site it as my epiphany wine, and I have never had a bottle I did not appreciate.  I am huge fan of their Zinfandels, always a go to on any wine list, and their Chardonnays are always amazing as well.  The Zins in particular represent excellent value for their price, and have remained affordable.  I had never had a chance to try the legendary Monte Bello Cabernet, as it is a rare and expensive wine.  We had the good fortune to try three different vintages at this tasting.  A recap of all the wines we tried follows, but it should also be noted that Union Square wines organizes tastings periodically that are not only amazing, but amazingly affordable.  We tried ten different Ridge wines, and were surprised with delicious hamburgers at the end of the tasting, not to mention the out of this world Parmesan twists that accompanied the tasting.  All this for $40, and they give you a $20 voucher towards the purchase of any wine in the store!  Its a hard deal to beat and Jesse and the guys at Union Square have it really dialed in, what a great event.

"Jesse from Union Square with Eric from Ridge and one lucky contestant!"

Ridge 2004 Grenache Lytton Estate – Dry Creek Valley $24.99

Starts out with a dark smokey sweet nose, but in the mouth the wine is very tannic.  There are some flavors of methol and liqourish, but the tannins overwhelm.  This one may need at least 5 years to mellow.  ON THE FENCE

Ridge 2007 Carignane Buchignani Ranch – Dry Creek Valley $27.99

This is a very pretty wine that can be drunk right now and over the next few years.  There are notes of plum and mint on the nose, with a light candied cherry and bubble gum mouth feel.  Not overly complex and very easy to drink.  RECOMMENDED

Ridge 2007 Lytton Srpings Zinfandel – Dry Creek Valley $27.99

The nose has a great spearmint note, followed by sweet cherries.  The mouth feel is lush with a nice caramel aspect and the tannins a subtle with a good finish.  Very pretty wine. RECOMMENDED

Ridge 2007 Geyserville Zinfandel – Sonoma County $34.99

The nose is very appealing on the Geyserville, with a decidedly liquorish aroma.  There are black candied cherry notes, medium bodied tannins and a long finish.  Unique and very delicious.  MUST BUY – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Ridge 2006 Chardonnay Monte Bello – Santa Cruz Mountains $59.99

We had an intermission between the reds with a glass of Monte Bello Chardonnay.  This was probably my favorite wine of the night, perhaps it stood out as it was the only white wine, but it is one of the best Chardonnay’s I have ever had.  It starts out with a rich heady nose, followed by flavors of vanilla spice and baked pear tart.  There is a rich long finish, simply amazing to drink.  It is a cool climate Chardonnay so it is not overly ripe, and it only sees about ten percent new oak.  Expensive for Chardonnay, but amazing!  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Ridge 2006 Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Red $27.99

This is Ridge’s more everyday Cabernet blend bottling.  The 2006 has a meaty nose, and scents of dense rich fruit.  The mouth feel is plush with blueberries and pepper.  A very berry fruit style of Cabernet.  Already drinking well, and should continue to do so for 5-7 years at least.  Delicious.  RECOMMENDED

Ridge 2007 Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Red $37.99

The nose of the 2007 is a bit more dark brooding fruit than the 2006.  There are elements of smoke, cassis, bread and butter chip pickles, and wood fired margarita pizza.  A more refined style than the ’06, can see this one aging well.  RECOMMENDED

Ridge 2004 Monte Bello Cabernet – Santa Cruz Mountains $129.99

The 2004 is classically Left Bank Bordeaux in style.  There is deep rich fruit on the nose and the palate, but it is subtle as well.  The fruit has a lite smokey quality, and it is fragrant on the nose, solid mid palate, and a nice finish.  This should age very well.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Ridge 2005 Monte Bello Cabernet – Santa Cruz Mountains $149.99

There is dark fruit here, with hints of mint, caramel, and pepper.  Subtle yet complex with a good nose, mid palate seemed a bit closed, but decent finish.  Dark deep red in color.  Excellent.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Ridge 2006 Monte Bello Cabernet – Santa Cruz Mountains $129.99

The nose seems a bit closed on the 2006 Monte Bello, but it is very young yet.  There are hints of strawberry, and it has a bit of minerality to it as well.  Medium bodied in style, the subtle fruit is delicious.  Could age very well.  RECOMMENDED

"Our table mates Joe and his daughter Adrienne holding up one of their favorite bottles from the Ridge tasting."