Back in the Day… But First… Friday!

One of the perks of membership at Ridge Vineyards is getting to experience their First Friday series at the Monte Bello tasting room.

First Friday is a neat members-only tasting event with a new theme every month.

For February, they went “Old School”.

Check out the menu…

Going "Old School"!

For starters, there was a three vintage vertical from the Old School block of the Geyserville Estate… a block that traditionally brings some hella ripe Zinfandel to the table.

First on the list was the 2003 Independence School (Soon to be renamed “Old School”)…

Goin' back to the Old School!

The ’03 brought some extremely concentrated red fruit on the palate.  Extremely concentrated.  Like… Extremely concentrated.

Moving into the 2006 Old School, that concentrated red fruit was still present… but not nearly as overpowering.

The 2009 Old School… Now that was my jam.  This Zinfandel blend still brought the concentration of the prior vintages, but was rounded out with these really nice, powdery… dare I say… CHALKY tannins.  You know I love chalk.  Love it!

In general, I really liked this Old School vertical.  It gives a good idea of how the ’09 would evolve over the next couple of years.  For my money (at $30 a bottle), I would have no qualms popping and pouring this one.

Now, on to the some fun stuff…

Barrel Samples!

Ridge 2010 Geyserville Barrel Sample!

You know that Geyserville is one of the iconic single vineyard wines from Ridge.  It’s a fantastic, Zinfandel based field blend that “brings it” year in and year out.  2010 is no exception.  Red fruit.  Acid.  Spice.  Minerality.  This wine has it all… All!

As great as the Geyserville was, there was one wine I had at First Friday that I just cannot get out of my head…

Ridge 2010 East Bench Zinfandel Barrel Sample!

Here’s the thing about the 2010 East Bench…

This is a powerful wine.


One sniff of this Zin, and I was 18 again.

Let me explain…

The Summer after I graduated from San Lorenzo Valley High School, I worked at a juice bar in downtown Santa Cruz.  The juice bar was called Juice World.  The year was 1997.

You won’t find any Juice Worlds today.  They went out of business in 2000.  They just couldn’t compete with the juice juggernaut that is known as Jamba.  To this day, I am convinced that JW was the best juice bar on the planet.  We made some bomb smoothies!

Working there, I was given my first real opportunity to experiment with flavors.  As part of our pay, we got one free smoothie for each shift we worked.  Each day, I would play around with different combinations of juices, sherbets, and fruits to see which combinations would work the best.

My favorite smoothie was a blend of strawberries, cranberries, raspberry and orange sherbet, and peach juice.  I called it the Orange Screech.

In retrospect, drinking 32 ounces of sugar every day isn’t the best thing for your body… But I did load up my smoothies with tons of supplements (like protein powder, bee pollen, and vitamin C)…



Chalky Supplements.

I probably haven’t had an Orange Screech since 1999, and yet… as I took my first whiff of the 2010 East Bench Zinfandel, that’s exactly what is smelled like.



Raspberry and Orange sherbet.

Peach Juice.

Chalky Supplements.

The Orange Screech!

I’ve got to be honest with y’all…

I don’t even remember what the East Bench tasted like.

But the way it smelled…

I’ll never forget it.

I want some more!

F-ing Devine!

I wanted to hang out in the barn at Ridge and smell that wine for another hour, but sometimes you just gotta move on…

Night Falls Over the Ridge


And I was hella hungry.

On the way home, we stopped by Toto Trattoria for beer…

Acme IPA

And pizza…

Pineapple and Prociutto Pizza

What a great Friday.

I still can’t get the smell of that East Bench out of my mind.

It makes me wonder…

When is the last time you’ve had a wine take you “back in the day”?

Stay Rad,



Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

6 Responses to “Back in the Day… But First… Friday!”

  1. Lauren Says:

    Love your description of the 2010 East Bench! Maybe I just don’t have a developed enough palate, but I have a hard time “seeing” what a wine is going to become 5, 10, 20 years down the road, so I have a hard time really appreciating barrel samples.

    The 2003 Independence School, however, was awesome. That’s the one I can’t get out of my head.

  2. Evan Jones Says:

    Ahhh…chalky smoothies. When I was at Santa Clara, there was a Jamba Juice on campus my first two years that was 100% better than any other Jamba Juice on Earth. They made an Orange Dream Machine that was easily my favorite food for those two years. It was chalky. I have no idew what part was chalky but it was great. Unfortunately, no other Jamba Juice makes them that way. When I returned for junior year, I was crushed when I realized Jamba Juice was replaced by some generic Aramark smoothie franchise. If anyone ever made that smoothie the same way, I’d pay 10 dollars a pop.

  3. jeremy duterte Says:

    in the spirit of “old school” can you please review Boons Strawberry Hill, Thunderbird or MD 20/20?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: