Santa Cruz Mountains
Light golden straw in color. Classic cool-climate chardonnay fruit in the nose, with notes of crab-apple, roasted chestnut, flint/mineral. On the palate: crisp green apple, sweet oak/vanilla/caramel; slightly floral. Medium- to full-bodied, balanced, good acidity.
Late May rains affected bloom, reducing the crop by half. At veraison, a warm weather system pushed the fruit toward ripeness. On these mountains fifteen miles from the coast, cool nighttime temperatures maintained the fruit’s firm acidity; to bring it into balance, we delayed harvest until late September. The natural yeast fermentations took a full three months to finish. A natural malolactic took longer still, stretching to September of the following year. Six of the eleven small parcels were selected for this Santa Cruz Mountains. Roughly equal amounts of air-dried american and french oak were used in aging, and the beautifully-integrated oak complements well defined, cool-climate fruit. Approachable now, the wine will be at its best over the next three years. PD (1/04)
Though best known for red wines, Ridge has made a small amount of Chardonnay in every vintage since 1962. We make as many as three Chardonnays each year from the estate vineyard; together, they total only six percent of production. A Monte Bello is made in those years when a lot is markedly different, and more intense than the rest; Home Ranch is a selection of fine lots that consistently demonstrate the vineyard’s character. The Santa Cruz Mountains is the softest and most immediately accessible of the three: rather than reflecting a unique vineyard site, it is the result of careful blending.
Weather: Chardonnay hardest hit by May rain and a cool June. Crop levels off 50%.
Harvest Dates: 17 September – 1 October
Grapes: Average brix 26.1; average pH at crush 3.37.
Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented. No inoculation. Natural primary and secondary.
Barrels: 45% air-dried american oak barrels, 55% french oak barrels. Of this total, 26% were new, 50% one and two years old, 24% three and four years old.
Aging: Fifteen months in barrel
Connoisseurs’ Guide (Oct 2004): “Seductively scented with ripe apples and suggestions of sweet bakery shop spice, this big but well-measured wine delivers the goods in the mouth. Its deep and appley flavors are laced with lots of very rich oak, and elements of smoke and vanilla add to its impression of range. It runs into a bit of finishing coarseness, but its long-lasting fruit prevails, and rich, grilled-salmon dishes will show it at its best.” Rated: 91(**)
Wine Spectator Weekly (23 Sep 2004): “A rich, full-bodied, mouthfilling wine, 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.” Rated: 91 -James Laube
Average Rating: 91
No. of Tasting Notes: 4
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