Claude Kolm of The Fine Wine Review gave four Ridge wines 90+ point scores in his most recent tasting of our national release wines.
This is the star of the release group, and fittingly, the label notes that this is Ridge’s 50th vintage of Geyserville. With its smoky, roasted chestnut aromas and flavors, smooth and medium-weight body, and dense, wild, spicy red and dark fruits this is a classic ready to drink already, but with the balance to take a couple of decades of aging. Despite the wildness of the fruit here, this is a wine of finesse and balance (no overt oak here) — don’t hide the finesse by serving the wine with BBQ or other foods that are too strongly flavored (although roast meats and tomato sauces should be perfect). 70% Zinfandel, 15% Carignane, 12% Petite Sirah, 3% Alicante Bouschet. 14.5% stated alcohol. 94/A+
2015 Estate Chardonnay
This wine is quite typical of Monte Bello Chardonnay with its lemon drop fruit and steeliness in a firm, medium-weight body. Stated alcohol is 14.5%, but tasted blind, I would have guessed a full degree or more lower (and I generally am good at guessing alcohol). The winemaker’s notes suggest that the wine will be most enjoyable over the next 8-10 years, but I’d consider that conservative; I’ve seen Monte Bello Chardonnays that can age well for longer than that. 90(+)/B+
2014 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
This is the second wine of the great Monte Bello. In 2014, it is composed of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, and 5% Cabernet Franc — a classic Médoc blend. This vintage was the first time the estate has had all five Bordeaux varietals ripen in the same month (September). As with the Zinfandels, the American oak is fairly prominent, and beneath that one has intense dark berry fruit in a medium-weight, smooth body with very good depth. I’d either decant well in advance of serving or hold for a few years in order to temper the oak. This is a balanced wine that should probably show best in the 2020s. 13.7% stated alcohol with the addition of 1.7% water. 90/B+
2014 Estate Merlot
This wine is made entirely from Merlot that was not used for the Monte Bello grand vin. To my surprise, it shows more of the character I associate with the grand vin — hot bricks, black olives, and overall resemblance to classic Château Haut Brion — than the Cabernet Sauvignon reviewed above. The reason, I think, is that the American oak is less dominant here than in the Cabernet. The wine is medium-weight, light on the palate, velvety, and shows good length. The tannins are round, permitting enjoyment now and for the next 10-12 years. 13.5% stated alcohol. 91/A