2012 Estate Chardonnay

2012 Estate Chardonnay®

Varietal Information
100% Chardonnay
14.5% alcohol by volume



Click below to watch winemaker Eric Baugher describe this wine

History

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; and the wine is designated 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.


Vintage

Harvest Dates: 10 September - 13 October
Grapes: Average Brix 24.5°
Fermentation: Grapes are whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented. Natural primary and natural secondary (malolactic) fermentations.
Barrels: 19% new, 11% one year old, 7% two year old, 63% three, four and five years old. 95% air-dried american oak, 5% french oak.
Nine months in barrel on the lees, and three additional months on the lees in four year old barrels to settle after assemblage.


Growing Season

Rainfall: 18 inches (below average)
Bloom: April
Weather: Moderate summer and fall


Winemaking

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 for this wine (28 ppm initially to barrels, 76ppm over the course of aging). Pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.

Winemaker Tasting Notes

Tropical notes of ripe pineapple, fig, and honeysuckle on the nose. A rich, oily texture on the palate with strong flavors of apple and pear. Full-bodied with crisp acidity and an intense finish.

Tasting Notes and Reviews


2007 CHARDONNAY SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS ESTATE


James Laube, Wine Spectator - 2009/6/30


Wine Spectator Buying Guide


Ridge Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains Santa Cruz Mountains Estate 2007 Combines richness with an elegant, delicate mouthfeel, showing deep layers of ripe fig and green pear, honeydew melon and smoky oak. Balanced, focused, pure and lingering. Drink now through 2013.—J.L. Rated: 93

Read more of this article ...



2006 CHARDONNAY SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS ESTATE


James Laube, Wine Spectator Insider - 2008/5/7


California Chardonnay


RIDGE Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains Santa Cruz Mountain Estate 2006 Smooth, rich and creamy, complex and concentrated, with layers of spice, fig, honeysuckle and honeydew melon. Clean and refreshing, with light oak shadings. Not quite at the level of 2005, but give it a little time. Best from 2009 through 2013.—J.L. Rated: 90

Read more of this article ...



2005 CHARDONNAY SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAIN ESTATE


Nicholas Ponomareff, California Grapevine - 2007/4/1


Chardonnay - New Releases


2005 Ridge, "Mountain Estate, Monte Bello Estate Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains ($35) – Medium-light to medium golden yellow; forward, very toasty aroma with a note of burnt matchstick; full body; rich, fleshy, slightly viscous, ripe tropical fruit flavors with a creamy mouthfeel; lingering aftertaste. Liked the flavors much better than the aroma. Recommended. 14.6% alcohol; 2,000 cases; 100% BF; 100% ML; released April 2007. (My Score: 84)

Read more of this article ...



2005 SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAIN ESTATE CHARDONNAY


James Laube, Wine Spectator - 2007/7/31


James Laube's Recommended California Chardonnays


RIDGE Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains Santa Cruz Mountain Estate 2005 Spicy, toasty, smoky oak, but also plenty of rich, vibrant, smooth and concentrated pear, fig and melon flavors. Rated: 95

Read more of this article ...



2005 SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAIN ESTATE CHARDONNAY


Jay McInerney, House and Garden - 2007/4/1


Jay's Wine Picks - 2005 Santa Cruz Mountain Estate Chardonnay


It's hard to believe this is just the second chardonnay produced by this pioneering vineyard. Founded in 1959 by a group of Stanford University scientists (who hired the now legendary winemaker Paul Draper a decade later), Ridge makes some of California's most sophisticated wines. The chardonnay has a big nose of lanolin and beeswax, and honeyed fruit with a lash of lemon and a mineral core. An insider's secret. $35.

Read more of this article ...



2005 SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAIN ESTATE CHARDONNAY


James Laube, Wine Spectator - 2007/5/15


Hot Wines


Shows lots of spicy, toasty, smoky oak, but also plenty of rich, vibrant, smooth and concentrated pear, fig and melon flavors, with a return to the toasty oak. Great balance, depth, elegance and finesse. Drink now through 2011. Rated: 95

Read more of this article ...



2004 CHARDONNAY SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS


Patrick Comiskey, Los Angeles Times - 2007/6/27


Lining up some fine Ridge wines


2004 Ridge Monte Bello Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains. The only white that Ridge makes; stylistically it is always quite austere by the standards of a typical American Chardonnay. It's not overtly fruity, and its intense minerality holds the wine in check in its youth. The 2004 leads with aromas of ripe pears, butter and flint, and a faint scent of fresh green peas. It's broad and substantial on the palate.

Read more of this article ...



2003 SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS CHARDONNAY


Linda Murphy, San Francisco Chronicle - 2006/1/26


Chronicle's Wine Selections


THREE AND A HALF STARS 2003 Ridge Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay ($30) Ridge makes just one white wine on a regular basis and this is it. The wine is distinctive for its mint and honey aromas, yet also offers classic Chardonnay character and complexity -- apple, pear and tropical-fruit aromas and flavors, brown spice, hazelnut and toast notes and a rich, slightly oily texture. The finish is long and clean.

Read more of this article ...



2003 SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS CHARDONNAY


Linda Murphy and Lynne Char Bennett, San Francisco Chronicle - 2006/12/3


Top 100 Wines 2006


2003 Ridge Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay ($30) It's distinctive for its mint and honey aromas, yet also has typical Chardonnay character of apple, pear, tropical fruit, spice and toast. Slightly oily on entry, it finishes long and clean.

Read more of this article ...



2002 SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS HOME RANCH


Steve Heimoff, Wine Enthusiast - 2005/4/1



Intensity is the name of the game here. Intensity of fruit, of oak, of creamy lees, of spices, of finish. The lush tropical fruit, vanilla and buttered toast flavors explode, leading to a long, rich finish. Rated: 93

Read more of this article ...



2002 SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS CHARDONNAY


James Laube, Wine Spectator - 2004/11/15


New Releases: California


Ridge Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Vineyard 2002 $30 A rich, full-bodied, mouthfilling style, with intense, concentrated layers of spice, hazelnut, pear and fig, holding a tight focus and finishing with a long, persistent aftertaste that picks up a trace of cedar on the finish. Drink now through 2007. 1,000 cases made. SCORE: 91

Read more of this article ...



2001 SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS CHARDONNAY


Nicholas Ponomareff, California Grapevine - 2003/11/1


Chardonnay - New Releases


2001 Ridge, "Monte Bello Estate Vineyard," Santa Cruz Mountains ($30) Medium-light golden yellow; attractive, spicy, toasty, green apple aroma with notes of vanilla, pineapple, coconut, and butterscotch; full body; plush, supple, creamy, spiced apple flavors with overtones of sweet oak; well balanced and structured; lingering aftertaste. Highly recommended. 14.8% alcohol; 1,300 cases; 100% BF; 100% ML; released September 2003. (Group Score: 15.8,0/1/1; My Score: 16.5 [89/100], seventh place)

Read more of this article ...



2001 SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS CHARDONNAY


James Laube, Wine Spectator - 2003/10/2



Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains 2001 90 points, $30, 1,300 cases made Well-crafted, with rich buttery oak and vanilla scents leading the aroma. Turns rich and complex on the palate, with a mix of pear, fig, spice and cedary dill- scented oak.-J.L.

Read more of this article ...



2001 CHARDONNAY SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS


Robert Parker, Wine Advocate - 2003/12/23


California Dreamin' - Deja Vu


I found an interesting buttery/hazelnut characteristic in all the Ridge Chardonnays... The fat, soft, tasty 2000 Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains exhibits white peach-like aromas, but it lacks the complexity and delineation necessary for aging past 12 months. The 2001 Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains is fresher, livelier, and more vigorous, but similar in style. I would opt for drinking it over the near term as well. SCORE: 88

Read more of this article ...



2001 SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS CHARDONNAY


James Laube, Wine Spectator - 2003/12/15


New Releases: California


Ridge Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains Monte Bello 2001 - $30 Well-crafted, with rich buttery oak and vanilla scents leading the aroma. Turns rich and complex on the palate, with a mix of pear, fig, spice and cedary dill-scented oak. Drink now through 2007. 1,300 cases made. SCORE: 90

Read more of this article ...



2000 CHARDONNAY SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS


Robert Parker, Wine Advocate - 2003/12/23


California Dreamin' - Deja Vu


I found an interesting buttery/hazelnut characteristic in all the Ridge Chardonnays...The fat, soft, tasty 2000 Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains exhibits white peach-like aromas, but it lacks the complexity and delineation necessary for aging past 12 months. SCORE: 87

Read more of this article ...



2000 SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS CHARDONNAY


Joshua Greene, Wine & Spirits - 2003/4/1


Chardonnay New Releases


2000 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay Total richness, like the broth reduced from lobster shells. This wine is fat and round, warm with the power of its alcohol, yet finishing with a lilt. Flavors of butter brickle and crushed oyster shells fill the firm texture, fleshing out the structure of the wine with air. Built for age, not for current drinking, cellar this to let the complex flavors evolve. (400 cases) Score: 92

Read more of this article ...



1999 SANTA CRUZ MTS CHARDONNAY


James Laube, Wine Spectator - 2001/12/31


New Releases, California Chardonnay


88 Ridge Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains Monte Bello 1999 $50 Lots of rich smoky, toasty oak wrapped around a fleshy core of fig and nectarine. Doesn't quite have the vibrancy that past vintages have displayed. Drink now through 2004. 1,585 cases made. J.L.

Read more of this article ...



1999 SANTA CRUZ MTS CHARDONNAY


James Laube, Wine Spectator - 2001/12/31


New Releases, California Chardonnay


Ridge Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains Monte Bello 1999 $50 Lots of rich smoky, toasty oak wrapped around a fleshy core of fig and nectarine. Doesn’t quite have the vibrancy that past vintages have displayed. Drink now through 2004. 1,585 cases made. J.L.

Read more of this article ...



1997 SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS CHARDONNAY


ARG, PRE, SAM, WHS, D&D, Tastings - 2000/12/1


California Review


Bright yellow and straw hue. Lean spice and mineral aromas. A crisp entry leads to a medium-bodied palate with vibrant acidity and a clean, flavorful finish. Drink now.

Read more of this article ...



1997 SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS CHARDONNAY


Tim White, Australian Financial Review - 1999/9/4


Wild Ones emerge as ferments


There is an informal anti-chardonnay movement, which dubs itself with the acronym ABC (Anything But Chardonnay). Not surprisingly it started in the United States, where chardonnay dominates wine lists and wine-store shelves, with the aim of drawing wine drinkers' attention away from the world's most widely planted "noble" white-wine grape variety.

For the best part of a decade (I think, because I cannot locate a reference which gives a definitive starting point) ABCers have been proposing such alternative white wines as viognier, marsanne, rousanne, pinot gris, etc. etc. Clearly they've still got their work cut out because plantings of the variety have continued apace around the world: from south-west France to South America and throughout the rest of the Southern Hemisphere.

Chardonnay is the most widely planted premium white-grape variety in Australia, too and not without its knockers. But there are those - me included - who believe that we don't have enough chardonnay planted in Australia, at least in the best regions.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that chardonnay has slipped behind both shiraz and cabernet sauvignon into third place on the premium plantings list. There are now 15,000 hectares of chardonnay, against almost 18,000 hectares of cabernet and well in excess of 20,000 hectares of shiraz. Let's hope the red-wine boom continues; recent history, however, suggests otherwise.

Why is chardonnay so popular? Neil Hadley MW of Rosemount Estate, which makes a fair amount of chardonnay in its annual production of nearly three million cases, puts it this way: "If you look at every other white variety they don't give the mid-palate weight and fullness of chardonnay. One of the other beauties of chardonnay is that it gives you fullness and richness at reasonable cropping levels."

The last point is very important. The vast majority of wine sold around the world sells for less than $19 a bottle. And the punters want a white wine that tastes, well, "winey", at a reasonable price. Riesling or sauvignon blanc, for example, grown at the cropping levels necessary to produce decent wine economically, just don't deliver the same hit.

The other occasionally breathtaking beauty of chardonnay at the top end is its ability to soak up and reflect the personality of where it is grown (as in the fine white wines of Burgundy and Chablis). It is also remarkably receptive to a wide range of winemaking techniques that give the grape variety even greater complexity; techniques such as barrel fermentation, lees stirring and malolactic fermentation.

Another winemaking artifact - or alternatively an art of nature - is the type of yeast employed in the wine's fermentation. Traditionally in the "Old World", wines are left to ferment out naturally using native or wild yeasts, while in the "New World" it is more usual to seed the "must" with a specifically bred dried yeast.

There has been quite a bit of experimentation carried out on wild-yeast ferments in the "New World" over the past decade and a number of Australian, Californian and New Zealand winemakers now allow spontaneous ferments. Wineries using ambient yeast in their top-end wines include Bannockburn, Giaconda and Moorooduc Estate.

What differentiates a wild-yeast wine from a cultured-yeast wine? Anthony Yap, senior lecturer in Oenology at the University of Adelaide, who has undertaken a fair bit of research at Pike's winery in the Clare Valley finds that chardonnay wines made with indigenous-only yeasts are "more creamy and mouth-filling". Neil Pike supports this observation and also notes that the barrels of indigenous-yeast wines go through the so-called malolactic fermentation more easily than cultured ones.

With this in mind, I recently set up a "wild vs. cultured" yeast blend tasting of 32 wines which included some of the above labels as well as other indigenous yeasters like Sorrenberg and Ridge from California. In most cases I had two consecutive vintages from the same winery. In the cultured corner, meanwhile, were Petaluma (standard and super-deluxe, single-vineyard lable Tiers) as well as Leeuwin Art Series, Penfolds Yattarna plus a couple of Leflaive White Burgundies. The results were interesting.

My top wine was undoubtedly Leeuwin Art Series '95 (cultured), followed closely by Ridge '97 (wild), Bannockburn '96 (wild) came third, followed by Olivier Leflaive Meursault '97 (a bit of both, I think) and Cullen '98 (wild).

The fascinating thing here is not the ranking but the textural similarities between some, though not all, of the wild-yeast wines. There did appear to be an observable extra textural silkiness and viscosity, almost a slipperiness of texture, in those wines made employing wild yeast. None, incidentally, showed any feral or off characters, except for an Au Bon Climat (ABC) wine from '96 which was a touch acetic on the nose - a function, I suspect of the year rather than the yeast.

One wonders what dizzying heights Leeuwin could attain with some wild yeast ferments. While I'm totally convinced I could pick a wild-yeast wine, there certainly appears to be substance to the textural argument. But given a bit more time and a bit more tasting, I might indeed sign up for the WXYZ movement. That’s the Wild (e)Xciting Yeast Zealots.

Read more of this article ...



1997 SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS CHARDONNAY


ARG, PRE, SAM, WHS, Tastings - 1999/1/1


Highly Recommended California Reviews


1997 Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains

Deep, saturated yellow-straw hue. Generous citrus, cream, and spice aromas. A supple entry leads a moderately full-bodied but well-balanced palate. Rounded and rich, with great persistence. Drink now.

Read more of this article ...



1996 SANTA CRUZ MTS CHARDONNAY


Charles Laverick, Wine Enthusiast - 1999/2/1


Going Chard Crazy


Ridge (CA) 1996 Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains. Bright golden luster. Moderately full-bodied, Full acidity. Highly extracted. Honeysuckle, peaches, apples. Honeyed, rich aromas lead a bright, vibrantly fruity mouthful with a degree generosity that follows through on the honeysuckle-influenced finish.

Read more of this article ...



1996 SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS CHARDONNAY


Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar - 1998/11/1


The Best Wines from California


1996 Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains: Lively aromas of mandarin orange, charred oak and mint. Perfumed, juicy orange blossom flavor offers a sappy intensity. This would taste downright sweet if it weren’t for its lively acidity. Finishes bright and persistent. Wears its 14.5% alcohol lightly. A somewhat idiosyncratic chardonnay that’s nonetheless one of the strongest in recent years for this winery.

Read more of this article ...