Ridge 2011 Chardonnay Estate
2011 Estate Chardonnay, bottled November 2012
Santa Cruz Mountains AVA
14.1% alcohol by volume
Winemaker Eric Baugher's Notes (Back Label Text) -
A cold growing season again pushed harvest into October,
though warm weather arrived in time to fully ripen the fruit.
Each parcel was picked separately, whole-cluster pressed,
and the juice put to barrel. The wines remained on their lees
for ten months as uninoculated malolactic finished. Tasting,
we chose the most accessible, fruit-forward lots. Freshness
and complexity are provided by firm acidity and the nuanced
mineral character of limestone sub-soils. This excellent
wine will be at its best over the next five or six years.
Tasting Notes - Light gold color; tropical pineapple
fruit, white flowers, apricot, honeysuckle; Rich entry, good
texture, medium bodied, crisp acidity, ripe apple/pear fruit,
long finish. EB (1/13)
Video Tasting Note
Presented by winemaker Eric Baugher
Ridge produced its first chardonnay in 1962 from fully-mature vines
planted in the late 1940s on the Monte Bello estate vineyard. Production
never exceeded ten barrels, and Monte Bello chardonnay was sold principally
at the winery. Several great vintages, among them the 1973, ‘74, ‘79,
and ‘84, showed that our cool climate and fractured limestone sub-soils
were well suited to the varietal. By 1985, the old vines were producing
less then a half-ton per acre; the younger ones, planted in the ‘70s,
provided the majority of grapes. These newer plantings were on the “lower”
vineyard not yet farmed as part of the Monte Bello estate so the wine was
called “Santa Cruz Mountains.” The vines are long since included in the
estate; with this vintage, the name becomes Ridge Estate Chardonnay. In
years when differences among lots are sufficient to warrant a separate
bottling, we make a limited amount of Monte Bello Chardonnay as well.
First vintage: 1985
Location: Monte Bello Ridge overlooks San Francisco
from the Santa Cruz Mountains, an appellation
separating the North Coast from the Central Coast but not a part of either.
Elevation: 1400' - 1900'
Soils: Decomposing Franciscan green stone mixed with clay/loam
over fractured limestone sub-soils
Vines: 18.3 acres, planted 1976-1996.
Training: Head trained, cane pruned. Vertical trellis.
Climate: Cool, mountainous — between the
Mediterranean and Maritime Zones.
Exposure: Principally east/southeast
Yields: Two to three tons per acre (full crop)
Farming: Sustainably farmed
Rainfall: 30 inches (average)
Bloom: Early June
Weather: Cool, late spring; cold summer; long, mild fall.
Harvest Dates: 30 September - 17 October
Grapes: Average Brix 23.5°
Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented.
Natural primary and natural secondary (malolactic).
Barrels: 14% new, 10% one year old, 15% two year old, 61%
three and four year old. 92% air-dried american oak, 8% french oak.
Aging: Eleven months in barrel, and three months of additional
aging on the gross lees; 2/3 in four year old barrels, 1/3 in tank.
All estate-grown Monte Bello vineyard grapes, hand harvested. Whole-cluster pressed.
Fermented on the native yeasts, followed by full malolactic on the naturally occurring
bacteria. Minimum effective sulfur (30 ppm initially to barrels, 67 ppm over the course
of aging). Pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal
intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
||56 cases/pallet (14 per layer)
SRP: suggested retail price per bottle (U.S. dollars)
Vinous Media (July 2013): "The 2011 Chardonnay Estate is strikingly beautiful. Creamy, layered
and impeccably balanced, the 2011 Chardonnay Estate is one of the most gorgeous whites I have ever tasted
from Ridge. Hints of lemon, white flowers and crushed rocks are layered into an oily finish supported by
beams of minerality. This is a gorgeous wine by any measure. Can the 2011 Chardonnay Montebello be much
better than this? We will know the answer next year. Yields were quite a bit lower than normal as the Ridge
team was forced to drop quite a bit of fruit to achieve full ripeness and eliminate botrytis in this cool,
late-ripening year." -Antonio Galloni (Rated: 93+)
review online at VinousMedia.com (may require subscription)
California Grapevine (Vol. 39, May 2013):
"Medium-light golden yellow; initially tight,
citrus and green apple aroma with tropical notes and hints of
honeysuckle and stony minerality; medium-full body; tight,
pear and green apple flavors with bright acidity and fine
balance; lingering aftertaste. Should continue to develop with
a few more years of bottle aging. Very highly recommended."
(Group Score: 16.1, 0/2/0; My
Score: 17 (92/100), second place)