Santa Cruz Mountains
Light gold color; tropical pineapple fruit, white flowers, apricot, honeysuckle; Rich entry, good texture, medium bodied, crisp acidity, ripe apple/pear fruit, long finish.
A cold growing season again pushed harvest into October, though warm weather arrived in time to fully ripen the fruit. Each parcel was picked separately, whole-cluster pressed, and the juice put to barrel. The wines remained on their lees for ten months as uninoculated malolactic finished. Tasting, we chose the most accessible, fruit-forward lots. Freshness and complexity are provided by firm acidity and the nuanced mineral character of limestone sub-soils. This excellent wine will be at its best over the next five or six years. EB (9/12)
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: 30 September – 17 October
Grapes: Average Brix 23.5
Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented. Natural primary and natural secondary (malolactic).
Barrels: 14% new, 10% one year old, 15% two year old, 61% three and four year old. 92% air-dried american oak, 8% french oak.
Aging: Eleven months in barrel, and three months of additional aging on the gross lees; 2/3 in four year old barrels, 1/3 in tank.
Ingredients: Hand harvested, sustainably grown grapes, indigenous yeasts, naturally occurring malolactic bacteria, minimum effective SO2.
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 (30 ppm initially to barrels, 67 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.
Vinous Media (July 2013): “The 2011 Chardonnay Estate is strikingly beautiful. Creamy, layered and impeccably balanced, the 2011 Chardonnay Estate is one of the most gorgeous whites I have ever tasted from Ridge. Hints of lemon, white flowers and crushed rocks are layered into an oily finish supported by beams of minerality. This is a gorgeous wine by any measure. Can the 2011 Chardonnay Montebello be much better than this? We will know the answer next year. Yields were quite a bit lower than normal as the Ridge team was forced to drop quite a bit of fruit to achieve full ripeness and eliminate botrytis in this cool, late-ripening year.” -Antonio Galloni (Rated: 93+)
California Grapevine (Vol. 39, May 2013): “Medium-light golden yellow; initially tight, citrus and green apple aroma with tropical notes and hints of honeysuckle and stony minerality; medium-full body; tight, pear and green apple flavors with bright acidity and fine balance; lingering aftertaste. Should continue to develop with a few more years of bottle aging. Very highly recommended. (Group Score: 16.1, 0/2/0; My Score: 17 (92/100), second place)
Average Rating: 90.5
No. of Tasting Notes: 83
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