Fall Release Reviews from Owen Bargreen


October 2023

The fall season is when new vintages of some of our favorite wines make their debut (including an elegant white or two). Not sure where to start? In this post, you’ll find reviews written by Owen Bargreen of 11 recently released wines, each scoring 93+ points!

Ridge 2020 Monte Bello Chardonnay

“Consistency is paramount at Ridge. I have yet to taste a Ridge wine that is not made with intention. These wines are structured, well-built and age gracefully. The new fall 2023 wines were truly outstanding.” –Owen Bargreen

2020 Monte Bello Chardonnay, 96 points

“Nothing short of a world-class wine, the 2020 ‘Monte Bello’ Chardonnay was stored for fifteen months in primarily American oak barrels before bottling in May 2022. The wine is shockingly good to consume now and not needing any air. Weightless on the mid-palate, this offers a gorgeous level of flavor density and flavor complexity, yet is weightless throughout the drinking experience. Roasted pineapple and mango fruit flavors combine with flint, brioche and suggestions of masa on the palate. Try to grab this beautiful Chardonnay while you can, as the near-minute long finish will linger long in your mind. This is one of the great Chardonnays made in North America. Drink 2023-2035”

Ridge Fall 2023 ATP Club Wines

2021 Benito Dusi Zinfandel, 96 points

“This outstanding 2021 Zinfandel was first made by Ridge in 1967 and comes from vines that were first planted in the early 1920s. Inky and concentrated in the glass, this shows a dizzying array of red and black florals, alongside garrigue, green peppercorns and shades of beef brisket. The palate is nicely structured, with a refined texture and plenty of mouth-watering acidity. Showing even more flavor density and flavor complexity than the 2020 edition, this has flat out fabulous concentration and an exceedingly long finish that will be sure to entice. This beauty is built to age. Drink 2023-2038”

2021 Sandy Lane Carignane, 96 points

“One of the historic sites in the Contra Costa County, the  Sandy Lane Vineyard was planted all the way back in the 1890’s, as this site is a head-trained, dry farmed location grown in pure sand. Very inky in the glass, this shows off intense black florals and Asian spices on the nose alongside dark currants and stony undertones. The palate is wonderfully terroir-driven with its salty profile. Power and finesse drive this black-fruit driven beauty. Seamless throughout the drinking experience, this is quite simply a total stunner that may live on past twenty years. Drink 2024-2040”

2021 Rockpile, 95 points

“The 2021 ‘Rockpile’ combines 73% Zinfandel with 23% Petite Sirah and a touch of Alicante Bouchet that were all sourced from the Botticelli Vineyard. Bright red currants combine with tar, salty soils, and shades of rhubarb on the nose. The palate shows a seamless texture with plenty of length and refinement. Elegant throughout the drinking experience, with soft tannins and a great core of red and dark fruits, this one is definitely built to age. Give this at least an hour in the decanter of savoring now. Drink 2023-2038”

2021 Evangelho, 95 points

“One of the truly unique wines in California, the 2021 ‘Evangelho’ is a knockout blend of 58% Carignane with 22% Zinfandel and the reminder Mataro all coming from the Contra Costa County. Stored in only 20% new American oak barrels, this offers beautiful verve and weight on the palate. Creme de violette, tar, crushed mint, and suggestions of coffee grounds all combine on the palate. Loaded with mouth-watering acidity and showing an exceedingly long finish, this beauty will cellar well for another fifteen plus years to come. Try to resist this incredible wine for at least another year. Drink 2024-2038”

Ridge Fall 2023 Z List Wines

2021 Pagani Ranch Zinfandel, 95 points

“Nearly all Zinfandel (90%), this has 5% both Alicante Bouchet and Petite Sirah blended in. The nose is absolutely rocking right now. Heady red fruit aromas combine with shades of black olives and a dusting of white pepper on the nose. The palate is bright and very concentrated, loaded with red cherry and tobacco leaf flavors, alongside wet gravel and citrus zest, making this exceedingly complex and delicious. This is even better than the 2020 version.Showing fantastic structure and weight, this beauty will easily go from another fifteen years. If enjoying in its youth, this needs about an hour in the decanter to be fully aroused. Drink 2023-2038”

2021 Ponzo Zinfandel, 95 points

“The brilliant 2021 ‘Ponzo Vineyard’ Zinfandel has 5% Petite Sirah blended in. A vineyard with some serious longevity, Bob Ponzo has been farming this Russian River Valley site for 40 years. Menthol, worn leather and red licorice aromas combine with suggestions of blood orange zest. The palate is fresh and refined with a soft mouthfeel and beautiful sense of concentration. Bright guava and Bing cherry flavors parade with copious minerals and loamy soil undertones. Complex and delicious to consume in its heady youth, enjoy this beautiful wine over the next fifteen years to come. Drink 2023-2038”

2021 Blasi Zinfandel, 94 points

“The 2021 ‘Blasi’ has 3% Petite Syrah blended in, as this comes from the Metcalf Vineyard in the Chalk Hill appellation. Juicy raspberry and red cherry notes combine with toasty oak, and shades of mulling spices. The palate is soft and refined with serious elegance. A core of rich red fruits greet you alongside light tannins and rocky and orange zest undercurrents on the palate. Give this an hour of air before consuming. Drink 2023-2035”

2021 Lytton Springs, 93 points

“A standout value, the 2021 Ridge Vineyards ‘Lytton Springs’ Red Wine combines 72% Zinfandel with 15% Petite Sirah, 9% Carignane, and very small parts Alicante Bouschet, Cinsaut, and Counoise. Once on the nose this exudes class with its high-toned red rose petal tones alongside red licorice, ripe strawberry and bramble notes. The palate is soft and refined with soft tannins that greet you alongside an electric core of red fruit flavors, with pink bubblegum, coffee grounds and shades of cardamom spice. Really good now, this will easily go for another eight years to come. Drink 2023-2033”

2020 Lytton Estate Petite Sirah, 94 points

“The 2020 ‘Lytton Estate’ Petite Sirah is a fantastic wine made in a tough vintage. The wine is loaded with concentrated huckleberry, black tea, blackberry cobbler and Turkish coffee flavors the combine with a fantastic mineral backbone and firm tannins. A slumbering giant right now, this needs a few more years of bottle aging to be fully awoken — but the potential is there. Drink 2025-2035”

2022 Grenache Blanc, 93 points

“The seriously good 2022 Ridge Vineyards Grenache Blanc has 14% Picpoul added. Right away this offers alluring aromatics of star jasmine and honeysuckle alongside ripe kiwi and kumquat notes. The palate is very fresh and lithe with a soft mouthfeel and great sense of length. Juicy starfruit and pear fruits greet you, as this Southern Rhone inspired wine is drinking nicely now, and is best enjoyed over the next five to seven years to come. Drink 2023-2029”

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