Santa Cruz Mountains
Golden straw color. Pear, pineapple, lemon/lime zest, apricot, fig, anise, flint. Remarkably similar to the ‘09 vintage. Elegant body, oily texture; firm acid in a refreshing finish.
A prolonged winter stalled the start of the growing season by a month. Cool summer weather delayed ripening, but by October produced fruit of great intensity. Each vineyard parcel was picked separately, whole-cluster pressed, and the juice racked to barrel for native-yeast fermentation. The wines remained on their lees for eleven months as the natural secondary slowly finished. In late-summer tastings, we selected the most accessible lots for this fine Estate Chardonnay. Rich mountain fruit is matched by firm acidity. Elegant and fresh, this wine will be most enjoyable over the next five or six years. EB (11/11)
Ridge produced its first chardonnay in 1962 from fully-mature vines planted in the late 1940s on the Monte Bello estate vineyard. Production never exceeded ten barrels, and Monte Bello chardonnay was sold principally at the winery. Several great vintages, among them the 1973, ‘74, ‘79, and ‘84, showed that our cool climate and fractured limestone sub-soils were well suited to the varietal. By 1985, the old vines were producing less then a half-ton per acre; the younger ones, planted in the ‘70s, provided the majority of grapes. These newer plantings were on the “lower” vineyard not yet farmed as part of the Monte Bello estate so the wine was called “Santa Cruz Mountains.” The vines are long since included in the estate; with this vintage, the name becomes Ridge Estate Chardonnay. In years when differences among lots are sufficient to warrant a separate bottling, we make a limited amount of Monte Bello Chardonnay as well.
Rainfall: 30 inches (average)
Bloom: Early June
Weather: Cool, late spring; cold summer; long, mild fall
Harvest Dates: 26 September – 19 October
Grapes: Average Brix 23.2
Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented. Natural primary and natural secondary (malolactic).
Barrels: 10% new, 11% one year old, 15% two year old, 64% three and four year old. 88% air dried american oak, 12% french oak.
Aging: Twelve months in barrel, and five months of additional aging on the gross lees; 1/3 in four year old barrels, 2/3 in tank.
All estate-grown Monte Bello vineyard grapes, hand harvested. Whole-cluster pressed. Fermented on the native yeasts, followed by full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria. Minimum effective sulfur (35 ppm initially to barrels, 80 ppm over the course of aging). Pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
Wine & Spirits (August 2012): “Scents of lemon, vanilla and salt air rush through this young chardonnay, a cool mountain wine with a clear impression of the California coast. It glistens with white cherry flavors, herbal scents of forest underbrush and a gentle, honeyed aftertaste. Already showing incipient complexity, this will gain depth and breadth over the next several years.” (Rated: 93)
California Grapevine (Vol. 38, May 2012): “Medium-light golden yellow; attractive, floral, pear and green apple aroma with mineral notes and a hint of lemon zest; medium-full body; crisp, slightly fleshy, melon and apple flavors with firm acidity and a silky mouthfeel; lingering aftertaste. Rather elegant in style and nicely balanced to support further development with several more years of bottle aging. Very highly recommended.”
(My Score: 91)
Wine Advocate (Issue 202, August 2012): “The 2010 Chardonnay Estate is a beautiful, precise wine laced with citrus zest, crushed rocks and a hint of spice from the American oak. In 2010, the Chardonnay stands out for its energy and tension. It needs another year or two to settle down, but it is already striking in its beauty. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2020.” -Antonio Galloni, (Rated: 90)
Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (November-December 2012): “(made from fruit grown in the Monte Bello vineyard): Pale yellow. Candied citrus fruit and pear aromas are complicated by notes of vanilla and smoky minerals. Juicy and incisive, offering lively Meyer lemon and quince flavors that pick up a subtle touch of anise with air. The vanilla note comes back on the spicy, tenacious finish.” (Rated: 90)
Average Rating: 90.6
No. of Tasting Notes: 144
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