95 Points – Decanter
93 Points – Wine Spectator
93 Points – Antonio Galloni
Santa Cruz Mountains
Sun-bleached straw color. Ripe pineapple, green apple, pear, melon, biscotti, flint, toasted oak. Elegant fresh citrus entry, ginger root, limestone earth, lemon zest finish.
Warm weather brought bud-break in February, and advanced the season for our earliest chardonnay harvest ever. Picked by taste at moderate ripeness, the fruit was whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented. Natural fermentations finished quickly, allowing early assemblage. Additional aging allowed the wine to clarify; we bottled without filtration. This superb chardonnay will be most enjoyable over the next five or six years.
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 and were taken out. The younger vines planted in the ‘70s, provide the majority of grapes today. Initially 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” and these vines have long since been included. Since 2009 the wine has been designated 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: 11.8 inches (40% of normal)
Weather: Very dry December & January; most of the rain fell February through April. Overall above average temperatures at Monte Bello.
Harvest Dates: 27 August – 15 September
Grapes: Average Brix 23.4˚
Fermentation: Grapes are whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented. Natural primary and natural secondary (malolactic) fermentations.
Selection: Ten of the twelve Estate Chardonnay parcels.
Barrels: 94% air-dried american oak, 6% french oak; 23% new, 23% one and two years old, 54% three, four and five years old.
Aging: 14 months in barrel.
Sustainably farmed, hand harvested estate-grown Monte Bello vineyard grapes; wholecluster pressed; fermented on the native yeasts; full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria; oak from barrel aging; minimum effective sulfur for this wine (25ppm initially to barrels, 74ppm over the course of aging); pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
The International Wine Report (October 2016): 93 Points – “The 2014 Ridge ‘Estate’ Chardonnay is a marvelous bottling that was sourced from the esteemed Monte Bello Vineyard. iThe wine begins with aromatics of poached pear, dill, heavy whipping cream and a touch of crème brulee. There are dense flavors of Pazzaz apple, vanilla cream and crème brulee that sit alongside brisk minerality. This is just an awesome value at this price point. (Best 2016-2023)” – (OB)
The Wine Advocate (August 2016): 90 Points. “Ridge’s 2014 Chardonnay (14.3% alcohol and 100% varietal) has a light straw color, an attractive nose of delicate pineapple and citrus as well as touches of fig and wood spice in the background. Medium-bodied, with good texture and richness, this is an excellent wine to drink over the next 4-5 years.” -Robert Parker
Vinous Media (July 2016): 93 Points. “The 2014 Chardonnay Estate opens with inviting aromatics. Bright, floral and nuanced, the 2014 offers striking complexity and energy. There is a hint of reduction, but that is not a negative. Readers who enjoy focused Chardonnays will find much to admire in the 2014. This is a gorgeous wine from Ridge. Lemon, white pepper and mint add the closing layers of nuance. In 2014, Ridge bottled less of their Monte Bello Chardonnay than the norm, which may be one of the reasons the Estate is so expressive.” -Antonio Galloni
Decanter Magazine: 95 Points. Notes from their three person panel:
“Reticent apricot nose, with considerable purity of fruit. Fresh attack – lean and sleek – with vibrant apricot and citrus fruit; taut and intense. A wine with pungency and structure, and an almost Burgundian persistence of flavour. Harmonious, textured and long.”
Andy Howard MW
“Good Weight on the palate with attractive notes of ripe stone fruit and fresh acidity. Very well-balanced oak, aromas of gunflint, and a long and complex finish. This will age well.”
“Lovely gunsmoke character; very inviting. Rich and full bodied – dare I say a very masculine Chardonnay? Lots of stature and presence. Very woody at the moment, but an excellent example of full-bodied Chardonnay.”
Wine Spectator: 93 Points. – “Starts assertively oaky, with cedar and matchstick notes, but transitions into a more compelling elixir, offering a rich mix of pear, melon, honeydew and spice flavors as the oak recedes and lets the fruit come forth. Drink now. 3,275 cases made. – JL”
Average Rating: 90.2
No. of Tasting Notes: 136
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