Posts Tagged ‘Ridge Vineyards’

Stay Rad Wine Blog TV Episode 151: Let’s be Friends

January 10, 2015

In this episode, Jeff tries a few sample cans of coffee wine…

Wine Tasted:

Friends Fun Wine Chardonnay Coffee Cappuccino

Friends Fun Wine Chardonnay Coffee Cappuccino

Friends Fun Wine Cabernet Coffee Espresso

Friends Fun Wine Cabernet Coffee Espresso

Stay Rad,

Jeff

What was the last 78-point wine that you were impressed with?  Leave a comment, and let us know.

The Rad List: The Raddest of the Rad from 2013

January 17, 2014

It’s that time of the year everybody!

It’s time for the Rad List!

What you are about to read is an alphabetical list of my most memorable wines from 2013. These are not necessarily the top scoring wines that I tasted in 2013 (for that, just take a look at my Rad Wine Reviews page). These are the wines that were delicious, thought-provoking, and just plain rad. Along with each wine, I’ll give you the reason why I picked them, as well as my original tasting notes.

So…

Without further ado…

The Rad List: The Raddest of the Rad from 2013

1. Big Basin Vineyards 2009 Coastview Vineyard Pinot Noir – 91+

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Big Basin Vineyards 2009 Coastview Vineyard Pinot Noir

Another tasting with my old buddy, Dave TheVegetarian.  Another knockout wine.

Dave and I both grew up in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Now… He’s not normally a Pinot Noir guy, but he was very stoked on the mountain fruit from this Big Basin Vineyards effort.  Here’s the original video of our tasting…

2. Cornerstone Cellars 2010 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon – 91+

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Cornerstone Cellars 2010 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

I’ve been such a big fan of Cornerstone over the years.  You have got to try their Oregon Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.  Always fantastic.

But… The power, balance, and structure of their Napa Cabernet Sauvignon is where their proverbial bread is buttered.

So… When I had the opportunity to taste their 2010 Napa Valley and Howell Mountain efforts side-by-side, I jumped all over it.

Here’s the 49+ minute food and wine pairing video I posted on these wines…

3. Dehlinger 1998 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir – 93

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Dehlinger 1998 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

One of two wines I had the privilege of tasting from my Uncle Art’s cellar last spring.  Here are my original tasting notes…

Color: Light rusty burgundy red.

Nose: Bacon and mushrooms up front, followed by a juicy strawberry component.

Taste: Ripe strawberry on the front palate gives way to leather and mushrooms.  There’s a nice touch of black pepper that is sprinkled throughout.

Score: We were all impressed by the longevity of this wine.  There’s a great acidity to this wine that, along with the balanced backbone of 14.5% alcohol, that kept this wine quite fresh some 15 years after bottling.  93, y’all!

4. The Infinite Monkey Theorem 2011 Cabernet Franc – 92+

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The Infinite Monkey Theorem 2011 Cabernet Franc

One of my favorite parts about doing this blog is the great number of friends I’ve been able to make in the wine and wine-blogging community.  One such wine-blogging friend is Jeff Eckles of TheLonelyVine.com.

Jeff lives in Colorado.

He’s a Denver Broncos fan.

I’m a huge San Francisco 49ers fan… But you knew that already.

Last year, during the NFL playoffs, our two favorite teams were looking to be the favorites to go to, and subsequently win, the Superbowl.  So… We made a bet…

If the Broncos went further in the playoffs, I would send him a bottle of wine from California.

If the 49ers went further, he would send me a wine from Colorado.

The 49ers, of course, went farther.

Now… Although I was heartbroken at the Niners just missing out on a sixth Superbowl ring last year (I mean… Come on… The best offensive line in the NFL gets a first and goal at the seven, and you dial up three straight passing plays!?!?!?!), this bottle of The Infinite Monkey Theorem helped to ease my pain.  Here is the original tasting video I did for the wine…

Incidentally, Jeff and I have the same bet going on this year too.

Follow us on Twitter (@JeffIsRad and @JeffEckles) to see trash talking live on game day.

5. Long Meadow Ranch 2008 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – 92

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Long Meadow Ranch 2008 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Last year, I made a half-assed attempt to create my own wine day.

The idea was that the Sunday before the Superbowl would forever be known as #StayRadDay (A day to celebrate family, friends, wine, and this blog… A bad idea… I know).

Now… Although my attempt at making my own wine day fell flat, this Cabernet from Long Meadow Ranch saved the day.

Here’s my original video tasting for this wine…

6. Pontificis 2011 Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre – 91+

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Pontificis 2011 Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre

If I were to only place one wine from 2013 on The Rad List, this would be it.  Here are my original tasting notes…

You know that I am a big fan of Rhone-style wines.

You also know that I’ve been loving the value and quality of wines coming from the Languedoc-Roussillon in Southern France.

So…

When I see a seven dollar Languedoc composed of the popular GSM Rhone blend of Grenache (50%), Syrah (30%), and Mourvedre (20%), you know I’m going to be all over it.

But… Does it deliver?

Hells to the yeahs, it does!

Note: I opened, and poured, this wine a good 45 minutes before tasting it.

Color: A dense, and inky, deep ruby red.

Nose: Beautiful notes of dusty chocolate with fresh strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry fruits.

Taste: Though young, this wine has a medium body of very soft, and approachable tannins.  The front palate starts off strong with dense and brambly fruits of blackberry and dark cherry, which transition nicely to a mid-palate of cranberries and orange zest.  On the finish, these fruits begin to raisinate, and show off a wonderfully long, acidic finish.

Score: Wow!  This wine is a strong 91+…

And I almost feel bad scoring it that low.  My only reservation is that this wine appears to lack the ageability of a truly fine wine… But… C’mon guys… This wine is what it is.  This is a fantastic wine that is ready to be consumed right, the F, now… And the great part is that you can find this at your local Trader Joe’s… Right.  The F.  Now.  Of course, if you shop at my local TJ’s, you’re gonna have some trouble finding it.  I’m buying them all up.  Right.  The.  F.  Now.

7. Ridge 1981 York Creek Devils Hill Petite Sirah – 94

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Ridge 1981 York Creek Devils Hill Petite Sirah

The second of two wines that my Uncle Art shared with me last spring.  This was I wine I had anticipated tasting with him for months, and when he finally broke it open, I was very much impressed.  Here are my original tasting notes…

Color: As older wines go, it has still retained a lot of its red color, though it does get brownish orange near the edges.

Nose: Beautiful notes of menthol and tobacco leaf with one of those dried out oranges decorated with cloves.

Taste: On the palate, this wine is straight herbaceous.  Forest floor and tobacco leaf for days.  There’s a nice note of dried cranberries that gives an impression of sweetness to this dry wine.

Score: What is most impressive about this Petite Sirah is that 32 years later, the grapes are still bringing these massive tannins.  My feeling is that the wine has the structure to go another 10 years.  This wine is massive, yet subtle in its complexity.  Does anybody else have one of these bottles they’d like to share with me?  94, fa sho!

8. Twomey 2008 Merlot – 92

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Twomey 2008 Merlot

Last April, Kara and I took a tour of the Silver Oak, Napa Valley winery.  As impressive as the Silver Oak wines are (and we got to taste a bunch), the most memorable wine of the day was from their sister label.  Here are my original tasting notes…

Twomey is the sister label of Silver Oak. With a slogan like “Life is a Cabernet”, it would be kind of weird to see a Silver Oak Merlot or Pinot Noir.  This Twomey Merlot is their ode to the great wines of Pomerol in Bordeaux, France.  As such, this wine has been aged on French oak.  It costs $50.

Color: Lighter ruby red.

Nose: Blackberry fruit with hints of vanilla and spice.

Taste: Massive blackberry and blueberry fruit, balanced out with a good acidity and herbaceous notes of black tea.

Score: Yes. The Napa Valley Cab is worth it at $110, but the Twomey Merlot at $50 is a steal. 92.

9. Viña Eguía 2007 Reserva Rioja – 93

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Viña Eguía 2007 Reserva Rioja

A gift from Dave TheVegetarian’s dad, Papa Don Cattivera, this wine was originally released in 2011 for $20.  At the time of the tasting, it was available at CostCo for $8.  I would pay $35 to get my hands on another bottle.

Here is the original video I made for this wine…

Well…

There you have it.

Another year…

Another Rad lineup of wines.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

What was the Raddest wine you tasted in 2013? Leave a comment, and tell us about it.

Works of l’Art

March 31, 2013

Here’s the thing about wine…

From the outside, looking in, it can seem quite intimidating.

People making reference to grapes you’ve never heard of… using a bunch of French and Italian words in a show-offy type of fashion… talking about years that appear to be randomly produced…

I get it.

But…

When you take the time to show interest in wine, people love to share.

They love to share their knowledge.

They love to share their experience.

They love to share their wine.

Today, we visited some family for Easter at my Uncle Art and Auntie Ann’s house.

Uncle Art (l’Art for short), an avid oenophile since the 1970’s, is about to turn 70.  Since a bunch of family was in town, we decided to celebrate his birthday as well.

A few months back, l’Art mentioned to me that he had an old bottle of Ridge that he wanted to share with me the next time we got together.  As you’d imagine, I was pretty stoked when he broke this puppy out…

Normally I don’t show you pictures of the back label, but you gotta check this out…

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Bottled 30 years ago, Paul Draper recommended this wine be laid down for 5 years.

And normally I don’t show you what the cork looks like in the bottle, but…

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Look at the fully-saturated bad boy!

A cork like this definitely requires an Ah So, but left mine at home.

Ahhhhhhh!!!!!!

So…

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I got into surgery mode. Only a few small chunks of cork fell into the bottle.

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The cork chunks, along with some dope sediment, are why this wine must be gently decanted.

Now…

This wine has been slowly oxidizing over the last 30 years, so there’s no need to let this puppy aerate.

Let’s take a look, and dive on in!

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Here’s what it looked like in the glass.

Color: As older wines go, it has still retained a lot of its red color, though it does get brownish orange near the edges.

Nose: Beautiful notes of menthol and tobacco leaf with one of those dried out oranges decorated with cloves.

Taste: On the palate, this wine is straight herbaceous.  Forest floor and tobacco leaf for days.  There’s a nice note of dried cranberries that gives an impression of sweetness to this dry wine.

Score: What is most impressive about this Petite Sirah is that 32 years later, the grapes are still bringing these massive tannins.  My feeling is that the wine has the structure to go another 10 years.  This wine is massive, yet subtle in its complexity.  Does anybody else have one of these bottles they’d like to share with me?  94, fa sho!

Almost as impressive as this wine, was that l’Art followed it up by grabbing another bad boy from his cellar…

Color: Light rusty burgundy red.

Nose: Bacon and mushrooms up front, followed by a juicy strawberry component.

Taste: Ripe strawberry on the front palate gives way to leather and mushrooms.  There’s a nice touch of black pepper that is sprinkled throughout.

Score: We were all impressed by the longevity of this wine.  There’s a great acidity to this wine that, along with the balanced backbone of 14.5% alcohol, that kept this wine quite fresh some 15 years after bottling.  93, y’all!

I can’t believe how great these wines were.

They were definitely works of l’Art!

Stay Rad,

Jeff

What’s the oldest wine you’ve got in your collection?  What’s the best wine somebody else has ever shared with you?  Leave a comment and let us know.

Find wine and wine-related products on Amazon.

Prospecting and Mining for Gold: The Component Tasting at Ridge Vineyards

March 9, 2013

You know I love me some Ridge Vineyards.

In 2011, Kara and I became members of their Monte Bello Collector program.

Along with being able to purchase their epic Monte Bello Bordeaux blend at a deep discount, as members, Kara and I get to go to some pretty awesome events.  Saturday, we went to the First Assemblage and Component Tasting at their Monte Bello estate in Cupertino.  It’s a chance for prospective Monte Bello buyers to taste the individual varietal components of the blend, as well as a sneak peek at the 2012 vintage before it gets bottled up.

Here’s how it all went down…

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At check in, we were treated to a glass of the 2011 Estate Chardonnay. It’s loaded with lemon and minerals, all wrapped up in a cloud of creamy goodness.

Onto the components of the Ridge 2012 Monte Bello…

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This is the 2012 Petit Verdot. It’s got coffee and cocoa on the nose. The mouthfeel is mad grippy. Some initial green flavors transition to fruit of cranberry and orange zest.

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Here’s the 2012 Merlot. Super mocha and espresso on the nose. Big fruits of cherry and cranberry, with just a touch of grapefruit. Wow.

While sipping on this killer Merlot, we took some time to check out the food…

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Charcuterie from Fatted Calf, Bread from Gayle’s Bakery, and Cheese Selections by Kirstin Jackson (Author of It’s Not You, It’s Brie)

More components…

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The 2012 Cabernet Franc had a super espresso and toffee nose. The wine was bright and fun, with a whole lot of raspberry and cranberry fruit.

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On the nose, the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon gave notes of chocolate candy oranges. The palate was super bright with orange and raspberry fruit. Hella tasty!

After tasting the components, I was excited to be among the first civilians to taste the primary assemblage of the 2012 Monte Bello.

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Here it is. This is the Ridge 2012 Monte Bello, poured by one Paul Draper. I asked Paul if he was excited about this vintage. He said he was very happy with the big fruit notes on this wine. According to Paul, this wine will rival the 1997 and 2001 vintages of Monte Bello (That is a REALLY good thing). The wine is composed of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 8% Petit Verdot. Of course, this young Monte Bello has espresso on the nose from the toast of the American Oak. There is some massive bright red fruit on this wine, evened out with notes of tobacco and menthol. This wine is great.

The Component Tasting is also the first chance for the public to taste the 2010 Monte Bello.  If you bought futures for this wine in 2011 (like we did), this is also an opportunity to pick up your wine.

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The 2010 Monte Bello has aromas of blackberry and plum. The wine has a great acidity, tasty cranberry fruit, and herbaceous tobacco notes. Mad sophisticated.

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Kara and I took our time enjoying this one.

Back in the tasting room, Ridge had more treats for us…

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The 2010 Estate Merlot shows aromas of bright red fruit and baking spices. The palate has bright cranberry and raspberry fruit with some nice herbs.

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Here’s the 2010 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Big. Bright. Great mouthfeel. Pound for pound, this is one of the best Cabs around.

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The 2007 Monte Bello has menthol and tobacco herbs, along with tomato and cranberry fruit. Very good.

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The 2008 Jimsomare Zinfandel is a rare treat. Bright and concentrated fruits of cranberry, blackberry, and raspberry, with an earthy balance. Good stuff.

What a great event.

I even brought some gold back from the mountain…

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This magnum of Ridge 2010 Monte Bello fits perfectly in my wine fridge. Check back in 2035, and I’ll tell you how it turns out.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

What’s your favorite wine event?  Have you ever purchased wine on futures?  Leave a comment, and tell us what you think.

Find wine and wine-related products on Amazon.

First Friday: A 3 Vintage Ridge Vertical

February 10, 2013

Since becoming members at Ridge Vineyards, one event that Kara and I really like taking advantage of is First Friday at Monte Bello.  On the first Friday of each month, they present a members-only tasting that usually highlights a new release.

The Friday before last, Kara and I headed up the mountain in Cupertino to taste a 3 vintage vertical of Carmichael Ranch Zinfandel.  Let’s take a look at how this Alexander Valley fruit has changed over the last couple of years…

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The Ridge 2007 Carmichael Zinfandel had a jammy nose of strawberries and blackberries. On the palate, this Zin had loads of bright, candied fruits of blackberry and cranberries. There was a nice funkiness to this wine as well.

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The Ridge 2009 Carmichael Ranch Zinfandel had a pretty nose of blackberries, blueberries, and tomatoes. The palate was mad earthy, and mad balanced.

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Newly released, the Ridge 2010 Carmichael Ranch Zinfandel was my favorite. The nose of mushrooms, plums, and blueberries was hella complex. The palate had a bright acidity, powdery tannis, and flavors of plums and Earth. This was a real treat.

And that was First Friday.

Don’t worry…

It won’t be the last.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

Stay Rad Wine Blog TV Episode 81: Go Niners! Go Ridge!

January 13, 2013

In this episode, Jeff celebrates a 49ers playoff win with a championship caliber wine from Ridge Vineyards…

Wine Tasted:

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Ridge 2010 Buchignani Ranch Carignane

After the Fact:

I forgot to score the wine on camera.  Check out the Rad Wine Reviews page for my official score.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

What’s the Score? – A Blogger Tasting at Ridge Vineyards

September 23, 2012

When I first started this blog in the Summer of 2011, I wrestled quite a bit with the idea of whether or not I would post scores in my wine reviews.

I mean… On the real…

The whole idea of quantifying something as subjective as one’s perception of a wine’s quality is straight up whack, son.

And yet…

I do score my wines.

It’s an easy way for me to remember how I felt about the wines I have tasted.

It’s also fun to compare my scores with those of other folks who have tasted the same wines.

Now…

I’m not the only blogger who’s struggled with the idea of scoring wines.

In fact…

This past Sunday, I got together with a bunch of bloggers at Ridge Vineyards’ Monte Bello Tasting Room to tackle the very topic of wine scores.

This is how it all went down at the most recent installment of the Ridge Vineyards Wine Blogger Tasting:

As I approached my seat in the back of the barn, this was the view of the table set before me…

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Five red wines and a spit cup.

You should know that there is always a theme to these tastings… Always.

You should also know that Blogger/Host extraordinaire, Christopher Watkins, always keeps the theme a secret… Always.

That being said, based on my quick observations, it was easy to infer that we were gonna be going blind today.  If you’ve seen any of my blind tasting videos, you know that I was gonna have to work hard on this fine Sunday afternoon.

But first…

I had to fill my plate.

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Olive and Fig Spread

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Olive Tapenade

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Dope Cheeses

While snacking on some of the tasty bites, my eyes went back to the wines on my table.

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The Wine

Christopher proceeded to break down the theme to this Blogger Tasting… “Scores”.

The five wines presented to us had all been recently scored by well-known and respected wine critics.  The difference between the top-scoring and lowest scoring wines is ten points on the 100-point scale.  Our task was to taste each of the five wines, and rank them from our most favorite to least favorite.  Christopher would then compile our scores, and crunch the numbers to get some (hopefully) meaningful data.

His hypothesis: While the scoring rubric (on a 100-point scale) may vary from one critic to the next (due to the subjectivity of taste), there must be similar valuations of wine beyond the subjectivity of a point score.  So, if several bloggers are charged with ranking wines from best to worst, they should end up ranking them in the same order.

So…

From left to right, here are my tasting notes…

Wine A:

Color: Dark ruby-red.

Nose: Good fruit of raspberry and cranberry.  It’s got a candy-type nose of rainbow sherbert.  There’s also a hint of walnuts.

Taste: Bright red fruit with some funky Earth and orange zest.

Wine B:

Color: Darker than wine A.  Ruby red to purple.

Nose: Subtle dark plum and tires with a hint of cinnamon spice.

Taste: Plums and red fruit.  There’s a lively acidity to this.  It’s complimented by cranberries, clove spice, and a touch of orange.

Wine C:

Color: Dark ruby-red with some pink shimmers in it.

Nose: Chalky blueberry and plum with hints of cocoa powder.

Taste: This wine has a BIG palate of ripe red fruit, pepper, and spice.

Wine D:

Color: One of the lighter wines of the bunch.  You can see your fingers through the burgundy red color.

Nose: Very subtle.  Good chalky notes, but that’s about it.

Taste: Again, a very subtle wine.  Cranberries and raspberries compliment the good acidity to this one.

Wine E:

Color: Similar to that of D.  Light burgundy.

Nose: Lots of bloggers at the table were talking about the nose on this while I was still working on wine A.  The nose is that of pine trees, raspberry, and something that was so familiar it drove me crazy that I couldn’t recall what it was.  I’m looking forward to reading the notes from the other bloggers about this one.  Super different and interesting.

Taste: Off the bat, this wine tastes like a high alcohol Zinfandel.  It’s got candied fruit roll-up, leather, cranberries, and grapefruit.  Totally funky.  Totally fun.

Now…

As far as the wines go, they were all outstanding… And I’ve got the empty glasses to prove it…

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See!

My point spread was not anywhere close to as large as that of the critics in question.  My favorite wine of the day came in at a 92+, and my least favorite was a 90+.

Here’s how I ranked them in order from favorite to least favorite (along with my guess as to what wines they were)…

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B – A – D – E – C (Quick… Grab your guitar and see what that sounds like!)

After sharing our rankings, Christopher gave us each a taste of the 1995 Monte Bello while he crunched the numbers.  It was a fantastic wine with a good cloudy red color.  The funky good nose gave way to delicious blueberry and plum fruit and spice.  A tasty 92+ in my book.

Next, was the reveal…

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The Lineup

As it turns out, all of the wines were recently reviewed by Antonio Galloni.  I have them listed them in the order in which I liked them.  Galloni’s scores will be found in parentheses.

Wine B: Ridge Vineyards 2009 Klein Cabernet Sauvignon (94)

Wine A: Ridge Vineyards 2009 Estate Merlot (90)

Wine D: Ridge Vineyards 2009 Perrone Cabernet Franc (92)

Wine E: Ridge Vineyards 2010 Geyserville (88)

Wine C: Ridge Vineyards 2009 Monte Bello (98)

Now… Here’s what’s crazy…

Galloni gave the Monte Bello a 98.  I liked it, but ranked it dead last… and I wasn’t the only one.  I’m looking forward to seeing Christopher publish his data, but I recall him saying that 7 of us ranked wine C our least favorite.  He also revealed that 7 of us ranked wine B as our favorite.

So, here is where the idea of scoring gets a little crazy…

Galloni did not taste these wines blind.  When it came to the Monte Bello, he knew that he was tasting a wine that was tasting a $150 from a legendary estate.  He knew that he was tasting a wine that was meant to be laid down for 20+ years.

Is it a 98 today?  No way.

Could it become one?  Check back with me in 20 years.

When it came to the Geyserville, Galloni knew the history of that vineyard.  He has tasted several vintages of the wine.

Is the 2010 as good as other recent Geyservilles?  Probably not.

Is it better than most wines that I would rank an 88?  Definitely.

The reality is that scores will always be subjective.

Scores will always rely on the context in which the wine is served.

There will always be external variables that play a role in our perception of wine.

But…

At the end of the day, scores are what people want to see.

Scores are what people want to compare.

Scores are what people want to debate.

It is because of this that I will continue to provide scores in my reviews.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

PS – Since this tasting was done on a Sunday afternoon, I missed the end of the 49er game.  Could somebody tell me the score?

New Releases @RidgeVineyards. Same dope juice.

September 2, 2012

With as much as I talk and write about Ridge Vineyards on this blog, you’d think they are paying me to do it…

In reality…

I pay them…

Gladly.

Being a member of any winery will always set you back a couple of bucks, but you do it because of the privileges that it gives you.

In this case…

With this winery…

The privileges are dope!

Sure, I get to taste for free at both of their tasting rooms.

Sure, I get to purchase futures of the epic Monte Bello at a DEEP discount.

But it’s the events that get me to schlep up that mountain in Cupertino time and time again.

Yesterday, Kara and I hit up the Ridge Tasting room at Monte Bello for their Fall Release/50th Anniversary event.

Upon check in, we were presented with this bad boy…

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Ridge 2010 Estate Chardonnay: Good lemon citrus crossed with the scraped up crust left over from a delicious apple pie a’la mode.

After that tasty treat, we headed up to the barn to try three new Ridge wines paired with some fantastic wood fired pizza from the fine folks at Pizza Politana.  If I were smart, I would have taken a few pictures of the pizza.  I’m not.  So I didn’t.

Anyways…

Here’s the wine…

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Ridge 2010 Ponzo Zinfandel: From the cool climate of the Russian River Valley, this Zinfandel is blended with 4% Petite Sirah. This is not your over-the-top fruit bomb. This is restrained red berries rounded out by a great earthiness. I love the lingering finish of rainbow sherbet.

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Ridge 2010 Pagani Ranch Zinfandel: Blended with 16% Alicante Bouchet and 2% Petite Sirah, this is another cool climate Zinfandel. This time, the vineyard is located in the Northern Sonoma Valley. This is wine has a good juiciness and concentration with its red fruit, but it is very laid back.

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Ridge 2009 Monte Bello: When Antonio Gallioni uses terms like “utterly magnificent” and “towering masterpiece” to describe a wine, then blesses it with a 98 in the Wine Advocate… You take note. This year’s installment of Ridge’s flagship wine is a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, and 6% Petit Verdot. This is not an in-your-face Napa cult cab. This is a complex marrying of rubbery tannin and earthy mushrooms. Oh… The dark red fruit is there, but this wine is much more than that. I like it.

After we were finished with these barn-burners, we strolled down to the tasting room to chill with three more fantastic wines…

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Ridge 2010 Lytton Springs: Composed of 67% Zinfandel, 23% Petite Sirah, 7% Carignane, and 3% Mataro (Say it with me… Mer-Ver!) from the iconic vineyard in the heat of the Alexander Valley, this is consistently one of my favorite wines from Ridge. Awesome nose of tires and clove spice. Fantastic balance of blackberry, raspberry, and blueberry fruit. Gallioni gave it a 93+. I agree. It’s a towering masterpiece.

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Ridge 2009 Lytton Estate Zinfandel: Blended with 29% Petite Sirah, this is another great example of the balance of acid, tannin, juicy red fruit, and dope bike tires that makes me love the wines of Ridge.

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Ridge 2003 Santa Cruz Mountains: I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating… This is THEE wine that introduced me to Ridge Vineyards. Once every couple of months, I’ll stare at this bottle in my wine fridge and debate as to whether or not I should open it up. A blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, and 4% Cabernet Franc from the Monte Bello Estate, this nine-year-old is maturing into something amazing. Fantastic nose of menthol, mint, tobacco, blueberries, and blackberries. On the palate, there is a great leafy and minty herbaciousness to go along with berry and tomato fruit. This is in its prime right now, but I would not be surprised to see it show well for another five years at least. Dope!

Oh man…

That was a great event.

Membership does have its privileges.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

This Post isn’t About That…

July 30, 2012

Yesterday, my Aunt B. and Uncle J. took Kara and me wine tasting at Domenico Winery in San Carlos…

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Domenico Winery

Domenico is an Urban Winery found just off of the 101 on the San Francisco Peninsula. I am always intrigued by the quality of wine coming from Urban Wineries like Domenico. I could do a whole series on just Urban Wineries…

But this post isn’t about that.

Although the winery is not located within the boundaries of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, Domenico is considered to be a Santa Cruz Mountain Winery because they do make some wines with fruit sourced from that appellation. Here’s a few that we tasted…

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Domenico 2009 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay

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Domenico 2008 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

I do love me some Santa Cruz Mountains fruit. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the Santa Cruz Mountains…

But this post isn’t about that.

Domenico is more well-known for their wines made from Italian varietals. We got to try the follwing wines which are recommended by yours truly…

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Domenico 2006 Dolcetto

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Domenico 2007 Montepulciano

Although I was into both of these, I am not usually a fan of wines made of Italian grapes grown in California (with the exception of Primitivo aka Zinfandel, which technically has origins in Croatia)…

But this post isn’t about that.

Domenico also makes a fine Bordeaux style blend from Napa…

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Domenico 2005 Napa Valley Meritage

I was also very impressed with their dessert wines…

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We picked up the 2009 “White Cashmere” Malvasia Bianca Dessert Wine, thanks to my aunt and uncle.

Yup. Domenico is a pretty cool place. You should check them out the next time you’re in San Carlos…

But this post isn’t about that.

On the way home, after saying our goodbyes to Aunt B. and Uncle J., we decided to swing by Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello Tasting Room… Since it was on the way, and all…

As always, the entire lineup at Ridge was fantastic. We were hella stoked by the following…

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Ridge 2010 East Bench Zinfandel

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Ridge 2007 Syrah/Grenache

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Ridge 2006 Lytton Estate Grenache

Those wines were very good. I mean… Ridge is ALWAYS good…

But this post isn’t about that.

There were two wines that we got to taste that were just amazing…

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The Ridge 2010 Buchignani Ranch Carignane is unreal. The nose is this crazy combination of beef jerky and cake frosting. I know that sounds weird, but trust me… That smell is beautiful. The palate brings some legit blueberry and blackberry fruit. Pick it up! 92+

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Behind the counter, they had open a Half Bottle of Ridge 1993 Monte Bello, so we had to have a taste. It’s hard to believe that this wine is 19 years old. Considering that half bottles age more quickly than those that are full-sized, it was neat to see how young it still behaved. The color was a dark reddish-purple with just the slightest rustiness near the rim. The nose had this fantastic spice that Kara and I were having trouble putting a name to. Kara settled with chai tea. The spice to me was more that of nutmeg and carob. There was also a generous aroma of plum. On the palate, this bad boy brought it all. Black tea, green peppers, clove, mint, ginger, blackberries, cranberries, and leafy tobacco married perfectly. This wine, right now, is in a sweet spot. It is F-ing great! 95

Since Kara and I joined Ridge last year, I’ve probably visited the winery about 20 times (Yikes!), and I am always surprised by all the neat little gems that show up every time…

But this post isn’t about that.

After we got home, I took our dog, Angel, for a walk…

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What’s up? Dog.

While on our walk, Angel stepped on a bee.

My dog is a bad ass. She is maybe 15 pounds, and talks trash to the local pit bulls whenever she sees ’em. But, when she stepped on that bee, I’ve never seen her in more pain… Ever. She began to limp and cry, and would not stop.

Kara and I took her to the vet to get her paw checked out. They gave her a couple of shots to ease the swelling and pain, and by bedtime she was back to her bad ass ways…

But this post isn’t about that.

When I woke up this morning, I saw that my ol’ buddy, Nick TheDrummer, had created the following logo for me and posted it to my Facebook page

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Stay Rad Wine Blog: The Logo

It’s pretty cool, huh?

But this post isn’t about that.

This post is about the kindness of people…

It’s about my wife coming on wine adventures with me.

It’s about my aunt and uncle inviting us to lunch, treating us to a wine tasting, and buying us a bottle of wine… Just because.

It’s about the people at Ridge Vineyards always making fantastic wine, and bringing a great wine tasting experience every single time. I would continue to love their wine even if they were jerk faces, but they are far from it… And that’s just keen.

It’s about my dog, showing me nothing but love… Always.

It’s about perfect strangers showing nothing but love for my dog, even when she tries to bite their faces off.

It’s about Nick taking the time to make a logo for me just because he thought I would like it.

It’s about people taking the time to read what I have to say just because…

It’s about how much I love and appreciate you all.

That’s what this post is about.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

Final Assemblage @RidgeVineyards

May 19, 2012

Guess where I was this past Saturday…

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The view should give you a clue, foo.

That’s right!

Kara and I went to Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello (2600 feet above Cupertino) for the 2011 Monte Bello Final Assemblage Event.  This is the last chance to get a barrel sample of the 2011 juice before it’s bottled up.

So let’s quit with the yappin’, and get our taste on.

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At check-in we got ourselves a splash of the Ridge 2010 Estate Chardonnay. It was tasty as ever.

I was very stoked to find out that before we got to taste those iconic Bordeaux blends, we would be given a vertical of Monte Bello Chardonnays.  Check it!

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Ridge 2007 Monte Bello Chardonnay:  Loaded with creamy green apple and pear notes.

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Ridge 2006 Monte Bello Chardonnay:  More gold in color than the 07. More creamy notes. More spice. More, please!

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Ridge 2004 Monte Bello Chardonnay:  These Chardonnays are fantastic when young, but age also treats these wines well. The creaminess of the 04 gives way to a nice acidity. This Chardonnay is rocking green apple for days.

After the Chards, it was time to check in on the reds…

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Ridge 2011 Monte Bello (Final Assemblage Barrel Sample):  Our final taste of the 2011 Monte Bello was poured by the legend, Paul Draper (Winemaker at Ridge since the 60’s). I asked him if there were any additions to the wine for the final assemblage. He told me that this was one of the rare occasions where there were barely any additions. There is a touch more Cabernet Sauvignon (bumped up from 87 to 88%), but that’s it.
As in my past sampling notes, there’s a great toffee coffee nose and taste to this, along with blackberries, plums, and a dope acidity.
The bomb.

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Ridge 1981 Monte Bello: There’s something magical about drinking a wine that is 31 years old. There’s something crazy about a wine that was made when I was three.
Bricking ruby-red in color, with hints of copper at the rim.
Nose of tobacco, clove, orange, and raspberry.
Taste of tobacco, tomato skin, leather, and raspberry.
Tannins are still powdery smooth.
This wine is in the sweet spot right now!
94

From the barn to the tasting room, the hits just kept on a-comin’…

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Ridge 2006 Monte Bello: It’s like blueberry pie. The goods!

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Ridge 1994 Monte Bello: My older sister graduated from San Lorenzo Valley High School in Felton, California with a GPA well above 4.0. She was valedictorian of her class. This Monte Bello is loaded with raspberry and blackberry fruit. There’s some good notes of tobacco and leather. Great balance of acid.
Much like my sister, this wine is a overacheiver from the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Oh, Ridge Vineyards…

Why are you so good to me?

Stay Rad,

Jeff


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