2009 East Bench Zinfandel

2009 East Bench Zinfandel

Wine Information

100% Zinfandel




East Bench


Dry Creek Valley

Alcohol By Volume


Winemaker Tasting Notes

Garnet/crimson color. Raspberry and red currant fruits, black pepper, brown sugar clay earth, iron/rust. Classic Dry Creek briar, attractive barrel toast and spice, lively acid. Drink young. Eric Baugher (2/11)

Vintage Notes

This is one of our few single-varietal wines. The vineyard sits high of the bench that overlooks Dry Creek Valley from the east. Despite a second year of little rain, the vines set a full crop. A hot summer, with six days over 100F, ensured ripeness. After fermenting on their native yeasts and completing malolactic, six of the seven blocks were combined and racked to barrel for thirteen months of aging. The 2009 East Bench is a classic example of Dry Creek zinfandel. Enjoyable now for its exuberant fruit, it will develop over the next five to six years. JO (10/10)


This is our fourth vintage from vines on the benchland overlooking Dry Creek Valley from the north east. The soils are identical across the bench as are the climatic conditions giving the wines the chance to demonstrate consistent character as they mature. The original vineyards were abandoned around 1920, but the blocks have been gradually replanted over the last thirty years. This wine is from vines replanted in 2000, using several selections of budwood from our own old-vine vineyards. The East Bench zinfandel is classic Dry Creek- rich and structured with brambly dark fruit and chalky yet balanced tannins.

Growing Season

Rainfall: Thirty-four inches (below average)

Bloom: Late May

Weather: Dry winter saved by spring rains followed by a warm, dry summer.


Harvest Dates: 12 – 15 September
Grapes: Average Brix 26.2 Fermentation: No inoculation; natural primary and secondary. Pressed at ten days.
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (20% new, 35% one to three years old, 45% four to five years old).
Aging: Twelve months in barrel


Connoisseurs’ Guide (September 2011): “Abundant blackberry fruit is overlain by an attractive veneer of dusty-earth spice in this bottling’s deep and well-defined nose, and the complex flavors that follow are as deep and well-fruited as billed. Already showing a bit of polish that sets it apart from its unruly young cousins, it is composed and well-balanced wine whose keen varietal precision and clear potential for aging win it enthusiastic recommendation.” Rated: 92 (**)

Wine Advocate (Issue 196, August 2011): “The 2009 Zinfandel East Bench is a big, burly wine loaded with dark cherries, flowers, tobacco and sweet herbs, all of which come together on a medium-bodied frame. It shows lovely length and personality, although some rough edges remain. With air, though, some of those angular contours begin to soften. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2019.

I tasted a breathtaking array of wines during my recent visit with Paul Draper at Ridge. Draper is a true American icon, so it’s great to see him doing well after a bout with illness. I also tasted a number of older wines, including several Monte Bellos going back to the 1970s. Heretical as it may sound, I think the wines Draper is making today will prove to be far superior to the wines of decades past, many of which are rightly considered legendary. For ease of reference I have also included notes on all of the Ridge wines made outside the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Chardonnays are fermented with native yeasts and go into barrel with their gross lees, which are stirred once a week. The malos usually start the following spring. The wines are assembled just before the following harvest and go back into neutral oak. Aging is about 15 months for the Estate and 17 months for the Chardonnay Monte Bello, with a maximum of 25% new barrels. The reds are fermented with ambient yeasts, undergo malolactic fermentation in tank (except for the Monte Bello which is mostly done in barrel) and stay on their gross lees until the following spring.” -Antonio Galloni, (Rated: 91)

California Grapevine (Vol. 37, No. 3, June-July 2011): “Medium to medium-dark ruby; attractive, earthy, briary, cedary, raspberry and red currant aroma with notes of black pepper and vanilla; full body; tight, herbal, briary, toasty, ripe dark berry fruit flavors with a velvety mouthfeel; medium-full to full tannin; lingering aftertaste. Highly recommended.”
(Group Score: 16.1, 0/1/2; My Score: 16.5 [89/100], sixth place)

Wine Enthusiast (1 June 2011) – Barbecue with Zinfandel – “A rich and satisfying Zinfandel, showing classic varietal flavors of ripe, wild red berries, tobacco, soy sauce, bacon and white pepper. Alcohol is notable in the slight heat and glyceriney sweetness, but those elements are welcome parts of the wine’s personality.” -Steve Heimoff (Rated: 92) Read full article at Winemag.com

DailyGrape.com (31 May 2011 videocast) – Video review by Gary Vaynerchuk (Score: 90 points) Watch video at DailyGrape.com

Consumer Tasting Notes

Average Rating: 89.4

No. of Tasting Notes: 158

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Food Pairings

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