October 15, 2016
Matt Kramer of the Wine Spectator recently wrote an article titled “Drink or Hold?”, where he explores the attributes of a wine that allow it to not only have the capacity to age, but to “transform into something more dimensional and layered-in other words, a fuller, richer experience, not just a smoother ride.” The one attribute in which he firmly believes to be a big driver of a wine’s ability to age, is what he calls “capacity of site.” It is in this vein of thought that he mentions our Monte Bello vineyards, alongside other vineyards from venerable growing regions like Burgundy and Barolo, as being a prime examples of sites that create grapes and ultimately wine that will have the capacity to age beautifully.
Here are a few excerpts from the article:
“…let me say that the only reason to age a wine is an expectation that it will transform into something more dimensional and layered-in other words, a fuller, richer experience, not just a smoother ride.”
“Some wine scientists submit that soil doesn’t inform a wine. My experience suggests quite the opposite.”
“So what makes a wine ageworthy? I’ve asserted previously that I always look for midpalate density, that firm core of fruit. I still do. It’s a good start.
But due diligence helps too, if possible. With venerable vineyards and regions, we benefit from proven history, whether it’s grand cru red Burgundy or the likes of Ridge’s Monte Bello vineyard. History shows that such wines are intrinsically ageworthy from a demonstrated capacity of site.
But what about new vineyards? Or newly emerging (or revived) zones? Here things get tricky. Myself, I look closely at the soil type. Grapes grown on sites with a lot of granite, schist or chalky clay (marl) tend to reward aging and even need it. Think of the best cru Beaujolais (granite), Douro reds (schist) or any number of Burgundy Pinot Noirs, Loire Valley Cabernet Francs and Langhe Nebbiolos such as Barolo and Barbaresco (chalky clay). They all age beautifully.”
“No single factor ensures age-worthiness. There’s the grape variety. And acidity. And the quality of tannins. And fruit density. You need them all and they must also jigsaw together just so. But make no mistake: Soil matters too. Quite a lot, in fact.”