Santa Cruz Mountains
Pale gold color. Apricot, citrus, and pear aromas. Appealing tropical fruit on entry, refreshing acidity, and elegant texture. Excellent balance. EB (1/18)
Winter was long and cold. For a second year, crop size was reduced by spring rain at bloom. Cool weather in August slowed ripening and pushed harvest out to mid-September. Barrel fermented, the wines remained on gross lees for ten months through the end of malolactic. Once assembled, it spent another four months in the cellar to fully clarify. Showing intense mountain fruit and elegance, it is enjoyable now.
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: 21.9 inches (below normal)
Weather: A very wet December and January helped ease the drought which emphatically ended in March. Cool weather in April reduced our crop a bit. Harvest started early September and finished quickly.
Harvest Dates: 7 – 15 September
Grapes: Average Brix 23.7˚
Fermentation: Grapes are whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented. Natural primary and natural secondary (malolactic) fermentations.
Selection: Nine of the twelve Estate Chardonnay parcels.
Barrels: 85% air-dried american oak, 15% french oak; 11% new, 51% one and two years old, 38% three and four years old.
Aging: Eleven months in first-fill, another four months extended settling in neutral barrels.
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 (25 ppm initially to barrels, 45 ppm over the course of aging). In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
JebDunnuck.com (June 2018): 95 Points. “A total head turner is the 2016 Chardonnay Estate, which is reminiscent of a Grand Cru White Burgundy. Loaded with notions of ripe orchard fruits, toast, flinty minerality and white flowers, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, a deep, vibrant, powerful texture and bracing acidity. This is a beautiful, backward beauty that needs to be forgotten for 3-4 years and enjoyed over the following 10-15 years.” – Jeb Dunnuck
Vinous Media (Aug 2018): 93 Points
“The 2016 Chardonnay Estate is gorgeous. Rich, deep and pliant, the 2016 is endowed with serious structure and textural resonance. Lemon confit, white flowers, chamomile, lightly honeyed notes and a touch of reduction all ring out in this super-expressive, inviting Chardonnay from Ridge. The 2016 was fermented in barrel and spent 16 months in oak. All of the lots are from Monte Bello, but that are fruitier and therefore considered better suited for this wine than the flagship Chardonnay.” – Antonio Galloni
Wine Spectator (May, 2018): 92 Points. – “A full-bore style, with a rich, smoky aroma and flavors to match, along with pear and apple tart notes. The long finish is filled with plenty of oak accents that feature some buttery hints. Drink now through 2023.” – KM
Average Rating: 90.4
No. of Tasting Notes: 40
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