Posts Tagged ‘Blogger Tasting’

Drink That Tune: A blogger tasting at Ridge Vineyards

April 22, 2012

Sunday was a day to celebrate.

Sunday marked the third anniversary of 4488: A Ridge Blog by Christopher Watkins.

Sunday was the birthday of the late, most epic, jazz bassist, Paul Chambers.

Sunday was also F-ing beautiful…


See what I mean?

So it only stands to reason that on Sunday I headed up to Ridge Vineyards to participate in another blogger tasting…

I had no clue how much more awesome the day was gonna get…

When Christopher let us bloggers into the cool side of the barn at Monte Bello, at first, things looked normal…

Water, Glasses, Pen and Notebook all arranged nice and neat.

Breads and Cheeses were on display and ready to be noshed.

But then, things got weird…

Christopher started us off with a splash of the Ridge 2010 Chardonnay to wet our whistles.  It was a classic golden-yellow color.  There was a vibrant nose of green apple, vanilla, and mineral water.  On the palate, the Chardonnay was quite viscous and brought flavors of vanilla bean and lemon meringue pie.

Oh no… There was nothing weird about the Chardonnay.  It was great.

But what was up with that camera across the room?


Say "Cheese!"

And when Christopher brought out the wines, he kept them inside brown paper bags…


I haven't gone straight from the bag since I was in college.

Things began to make sense once Christopher began to introduce the tasting.

In honor of the blog’s anniversary, and Paul Chambers’ birthday, we were going to listen to some classic jazz music (all featuring Paul Chambers on bass) while we were going to drink some classic Ridge wines (made by another guy named Paul… Paul Draper).  Our goal was to match the four wines we were about to taste with one of the four songs we were going to hear.  The wines would be tasted blind, so as not to influence our choices.

So what’s up with the camera?

In August, Christopher will be participating on a panel at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland, Oregon to discuss the relationship between wineries and bloggers.  The camera would be used for source material for his presentation.


After each of us got a chance to make wine and music pairing choices, we would reveal our answers on camera.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I can Drink that Tune in four glasses.

Let’s do this!


Wine #1

Color: Dark reddish purple.

Nose: Blueberry and tires (mmmmmmmmm), with this deeper concentrated blackberry note that keeps opening up over time.

Taste: There is a great concentration of tire rubber and blueberry fruit.  The finish is nice and long, and peppery, with some dope-ass tannins.

My Guess: This, to me, was a classic Monte Bello.  Great, dark fruit flavors, and balanced to the hecka.  Let’s call it a 2008.

My Jazz Pairing: Give me “Paul’s Pal” by Sonny Rollins.  To me, it’s the type of song I would use to turn somebody onto jazz.  Just classic… Like this wine.

Do it, Sonny!

Next up…


Wine #2

Color: Similarly dark red, like the first wine… but darker.  You feel me?

Nose: One sniff, and I had to jot down the words “Funkified Earth” in my notebook.  There’s a lot of layers to this one.  A lot.  And yet, they come together perfectly.  There’s this great mixed berry fruit, along with this oily goodness.

Taste: Mad strawberry and blackberry fruits.  There’s a great mix of green bell peppers and crushed black pepper on the finish.  As wacky as these flavors may sound, the wine itself is quite reserved.

My Guess: This wine is so damn good… and so damn unique.  I was guessing a recent vintage of Geyserville (Zinfandel), because I always find them to be so damn good… and so damn unique.

My Jazz Pairing: “Bemsha Swing” by Thelonious Monk is loaded full of bouncy, funky notes.  Like the wine, it’s so damn good.

Take it away, Thelonious!

Let’s keep it rollin’…


Wine #3

Color: More darker red than the first two.

Nose: Good fruit and leather.  Remember when you were a kid, rockin’ fruit roll-ups for lunch?  This wine smells like that strawberry fruit roll-up.

Taste: Juicy and concentrated with fruit… Spicy blackberry and red currant.

My Guess:  At first, I was thinking that this was a ripe Zinfandel, but the more I thought about the aromatics of the nose and the spicy fruit, the more I gravitated toward Syrah.  Let’s call it a recent Lytton Estate Syrah.

My Jazz Pairing: “So What” by Miles Davis is a laid back, cool tune.  This song takes me back to elementary school.  Not a care in the world, but the fruit roll-up in my hand.

It’s all you, Miles…

And finally…


Wine #4

Color: Similar color to wine #3.

Nose: Super, ultra concentrated fruit of raspberry and currant.  Good leather notes.

Taste: The first sip gives a flavor blast of blueberries and raspberries.  The fruit fades into a leathery finish.

My Guess: This was a fun wine.  Not my cup of tea, but fun.  The concentrated fruit reminded me of some of the Old School Zinfandels I’ve had in the past… So that’s what I’m going with.

My Jazz Pairing: A fun wine needs an up-beat tune like “Mr. P.C.” by John Coltrane.  Super up.  Super fun.

Let’s take a ride on the Col-Train (Get it?)!

Dang, that was fun…


Hella Fun!

After each of us declared our jazz and wine pairings, Christopher brought us some more wines to taste while he tabulated the results.  I was very stoked to get another chance to taste from the Historic Vineyard Series again…


History repeats itself... Or does it?

Ridge 2009 Perrone Cabernet Franc: Red fruit and jerky on the nose.  Juicy red fruit and vanilla on the palate.

Ridge 2009 Klein Cabernet Sauvignon: Chalky blueberry and blackberry on the nose.  There’s a great grip to this wine accompanied by black and red fruits.  There’s a nice tea leaf flavor on the finish.

Ridge 2009 Torre Ranch Merlot: Chalky, smokey red fruit on the nose.  Red plum, olive, tea leaf on the palate.  Juicy and complex.

A few months back, I ranked the Perrone first, followed by the Klein and the Torre Ranch.

This time, my ranking has flip-flopped.  That Torre Ranch Merlot is fantastic!


So, after we got into the Historic Vineyard wines, Christopher was ready to reveal the wines that we had tasted earlier.

Are you guys ready?

Here we go!

Wine #1:

I guessed a 2008 Monte Bello…

The Answer:


Ridge 2001 Monte Bello... Scored a 99 by one Robert Parker.

I was glad to know that aside from the vintage, I got this one right.  As you recall, this wine screamed classic to me.

Wine #2:

I guessed a recent vintage of Geyserville (Zinfandel)…

The Answer:


Ridge 2000 Monte Bello... Overall winner at the 30 Year Anniversary Judgement of Paris Tasting.

Wow!  I choose recent Zinfandel-based field blend, and it’s a 12-year-old Cabernet!  I couldn’t believe how different the two Monte Bellos tasted.  At least I was right about one thing…

This wine was damn good!

Wine #3:

I guessed a Lytton Estate Syrah…

The Answer:


Ridge 1999 Lytton Springs (Zinfandel)... Winemaker Eric Baugher's favorite vintage of Lytton Springs.

Hey… I got the right vineyard!  To bad it was the wrong grape.

Wine #4:

I guessed the Old School Zinfandel…

The Answer:


Ridge 1997 Geyserville (Zinfandel)...

Those in the know should be proud of my pick.  The Old School block is part of the Geyserville Vineyard.  The problem here was that I was too specific.

All in all, I’d say I did a pretty rad job.

What a Sunday!


What a view!


What a view!


What a view!

There’s only one thing to do to celebrate a day like this…

Turn on some jazz, and drink some wine!

Miles and Charlie, could you do the honors?

Thanks guys.

Stay Rad,


Pinky Strength: The #RidgeVineyards Blogger Tasting

December 11, 2011

Full Disclosure:

1. I love Ridge Vineyards.  The first wine of theirs I ever tasted was the 2003 Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon blend at Vintage Wine Bar in Reno, Nevada.  I bought that bottle about four years ago, and it will be sitting in my wine fridge for another 5 years or so.

2. This past Spring, I joined their Monte Bello Collector Wine Club within fifteen minutes of setting foot in their Monte Bello tasting room.  Their wine is THAT good.  And the tasting room is THAT rad.

3. Ridge Vineyards is the reason why I started this blog.

Let me explain…

Ever since I joined their wine club, I obsessively began to read up on all the different wines that they produced (and there are hella).  Through combing the interweb, I quickly came across 4488: A Ridge Blog.  It’s a beautifully written blog, hosted by Christopher Watkins (the Tasting Room Manager at Ridge Monte Bello, who also happens to be a fantastic poet… and is also as cool a cat as they come).

So… on June 9th of this year, I read this post on Christopher’s blog.  In his post, he was looking for wine bloggers to attend a private tasting at Ridge Monte Bello.  In reading the post, I thought to myself, “How f-ing cool would that be?”  The only problem was that I didn’t have a blog.


If your only problem in life is that you don’t have a blog, there is a very simple solution…

On June 11th of this year (two days later), I created Stay Rad: A blog about wine and all things awesome.

You may notice a few things about my blog.  One, is that the theme (the layout of the blog) is identical to that of Ridge Vineyards.  This is in tribute to the winery and the blog that got me started.  The other thing is that although I review Ridge wines every once in a while on this blog, I never give them scores.  This is because I am a member, and I don’t want that to effect the scores I give them.


Let’s move on.

Today is the six month anniversary of the day that my blog went live.

Also, guess where I went today (and for what purpose)?


The December Blogger Tasting at Ridge Vineyards!

Full Disclosure:

4. I’ve been fighting a cold for the last week.

5. Kara and I hosted a holiday party last night.

6. We did not go to bed until 3am.

7. I woke up at 8am feeling a little “under the weather”.

8. I would not miss this for anything.


9. This made me feel a whole lot better.

As I walked into the private tasting room at Monte Bello, I decided to start tweeting…

@JeffIsRad: Busted my cold in time to make it to the #RidgeVineyards #WineBlogger tasting.

As I looked around the room, I discovered a large screen tv that would be posting our tweets live…


@JeffIsRad should get a new profile pick.

While waiting for the last of the bloggers to show up, Christopher poured us some of the 2008 Monte Bello Chardonnay.

Full Disclosure:

10. For the purposes of this post, I will be scoring all (most) of the wines.

11. If you don’t like it, you can sit on a tack.


Ridge 2008 Monte Bello Chardonnay

Ridge 2008 Monte Bello Chardonnay:

Color: Golden Yellow.

Nose: Pear and vanilla.

Taste: Great acid and minerality.  Creamy.  Fantastic.

Score: 91 points

As everybody got settled, Christopher began the tasting by introducing the theme.


Christopher Watkins breaking it down.

For this tasting, we would be taking a journey through history.  After the Monte Bello Chardonnay, we would taste three of the Historic Vineyards single varietal wines, a vertical of three of the Santa Cruz Mountain Estate Cabernet Sauvignon blends, and a mystery bottle donated by fellow blogger Allan Bree.  To take us back in time, we were each required to provide tasting notes for one of the wines using a manual typewriter.


The Lineup


The Historic Vineyards wines.

We were each provided with a fact sheet on the historic vineyards of Monte Bello.  You can read about them here.


My tasting notes and fact sheet on the historic vineyards of Monte Bello.

Oh yeah, and there was food…


Say cheese!


Once we got set up, we dove into the wines.

Ridge 2009 Klein Cabernet Sauvignon in the glass...


Ridge 2009 Klein Cabernet Sauvignon in the bottle... and a typewriter.

Ridge 2009 Klein Cabernet Sauvignon:

Color: Light ruby red.

Nose: Tires.  Mint.  Cocoa.  Butter.

Taste: Bright raspberry and cranberry fruit.  Mint and white pepper.  This was described by Christopher as being “Elegant”.  I agree.

@JeffIsRad: #RidgeVineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon… It’s tasty.

Score: 91 points.


Ridge 2009 Torre Ranch Merlot

Ridge 2009 Torre Ranch Merlot:

Color: Deep purple.

Taste: Juicy leather.  Buttery.  Dusty.  Raspberry, blueberry, plum, and olive.

@JeffIsRad: #RidgeVineyards 2009 Torre Ranch Merlot… Blueberry.  Plum.  And, yes, Olives.

Score: 90+


Ridge 2009 Perrone Cabernet Franc

For the Ridge 2009 Perrone Cabernet Franc, I decided to take my shot at the manual typewriter…


Wish me luck...

It took me a while to get used to the typewriter… You gotta hit those keys hard.

Here’s what I wrote…


From here on out, I will be building up my pinky strength...

Color: Bright ruby red.

Nose: Chalky mocha and mint.  Bike tires for days.

Taste: Powdery chalk.  Plum, blackberries, and green peppers.  The wine is great, but I’m having issues with the typewriter.

@JeffIsRad: #RidgeVineyards The 2009 Perrone Cabernet Franc was DOPE.  The typewriter made me feel like one.

Score: 92 points.

After struggling with the typewriter, I had to step outside for a break…


The view from the ridge.

When I came back inside, Christopher set us up with a vertical of the Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Cabernet Sauvignon blend from 2003, 2004, and 2005.


Santa Cruz Mountains in the bottle...


Santa Cruz Mountains in the glass...

Ridge 2003 Santa Cruz Mountains:

This is the same wine that I have in my wine fridge.  The wine that I bought in Reno.  The wine that got me into Ridge.

Color: Ruby red.

Nose: Cocoa powder and blackberries.

Taste: Blackberry and eucalyptus.  Dusty tannins.  Cranberries.  It makes me smile.

Score: 92 points

Ridge 2004 Santa Cruz Mountains:

Color: Ruby red.

Nose: Dusty rosemary and raspberries.

Taste: Cranberries and fine tannins.  Bright red fruit.  This is a thoughtful wine.  This is the type of wine that would go buy you a burrito at La Choza if you were hung over.

Score: 92+

Ridge 2005 Santa Cruz Mountains Estate:

Color: Dark ruby red.

Nose: Blackberry and blueberry fruit.

Taste: Big and juicy.  Powdery tannins.

Score: 91 points

@JeffIsRad:  #RidgeVineyards Santa Cruz Mountains 03, 04, 05 Cabernet Vertical = Hella x 3

After the vertical, we were each poured a glass of Allan Bree’s mystery wine…

Color: Bricking red to orange on the rim.  There are these tiny, dancing, black speckles floating around in it.

Nose: Dusty blueberries.  Smells sweet.

Taste: Very juicy.  Becomes very dry on the tail end.  It reminds me a little bit of those chocolate oranges.

After some of the bloggers took their guesses as to what the wine was, Allen revealed the answer…


Ridge 1994 Monte Rosso Zinfandel

I knew it!

Too bad I didn’t speak up.

And with that, the final Ridge Vineyards Wine Blogger Tasting of 2011 came to an end.

@JeffIsRad: @RidgeVineyards #ThankYou for the #BloggerTasting


– Jeff

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