94 Points – Karen MacNeil, Decanter
94 Points – Wine & Spirits
94 Points – Blue Lifestyle
92 Points – Owen Bargreen
92 Points – Zinfandel Chronicles
Dry Creek Valley
Fresh black cherry, fig, and vanilla on the nose, with notes of mint. Medium to full body with rich raspberry on the palate and well coated tannins. Beautifully balanced with a juicy finish. MB (1/22)
After a plentiful harvest in 2019, the vines set a very small crop in 2020. With fewer grapes on the vine, the zinfandel ripened quickly. All seven parcels of the vineyard were picked in the first week of September. The 2020 East Bench has plentiful fruit typical of the variety and the depth of flavor representative of the Dry Creek Valley. It will be at its best over the next ten years. JO (11/21)
Ridge has made the East Bench as a single vineyard since 2006, one of the few Ridge zinfandels that is 100% zinfandel. The vineyard sits high atop the bench land that overlooks Dry Creek Valley from the east.
Rainfall: 18 inches (below normal)
Bloom: Late May
Weather: Rains in March and April helped the vines get through the summer.
Harvest Dates: 3 – 9 September
Grapes: Average Brix 27.3˚
TA: 6.15 g/L
Fermentation: Natural primary and natural secondary (malolactic) fermentations.
Barrels: 100% air-dried American oak barrels (10% new, 20% one year-old, 20% two years-old, 25% four years-old and 25% five years-old).
Aging: Twelve months in barrel
Hand-harvested; estate-grown organic grapes; destemmed and crushed; fermented on the indigenous yeast, followed by a full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria; oak from barrel aging; minimum effective sulfur for this wine (50 ppm at crush, 74 ppm during aging); pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
Decanter: 94 Points “Vividly briary – as though one fell into a patch of raspberry bushes – it’s also very structured and full of cassis flavours, leading one to momentarily wonder if there isn’t some Cabernet in there. Long and layered, it reveals itself slowly. East Bench is one of the few Ridge Zinfandels that is 100% Zinfandel. The vineyard sits on a high west-facing bench of land overlooking Dry Creek Valley from the east. As is common in Dry Creek Valley, the vines are head trained – without trellising – even though they were planted relatively recently in 2000. Dry Creek may well be California’s most renowned AVA for Zinfandel, and this wine shows its classic provenance.” -Karen MacNeil (November 2022)
Wine & Spirits: 94 Points “As the vines at East Bench mature, they are proving to be a significant part of Ridge’s legacy for future generations. While Paul Draper and David Gates have focused decades of their energy sustaining California’s ancient plantings of zinfandel and mixed blacks, they have also used the genetic inheritance from four of those pre-Prohibition parcels in a research project that resulted in the selection of zinfandel cuttings they propagated to plant East Bench in 2000 and 2001. The site of an abandoned zinfandel vineyard from the 19th century, East Bench is close to Lytton Springs, at the border between the Dry Creek and Alexander valleys. Gates farms the vineyard as if it were one of the historic sites, the vines head trained and spur pruned. John Olney, now COO and head winemaker at Ridge, has been in charge at Lytton Springs since this project began. The vines are now hitting their stride, this wine’s grapes harvested just as the fires began in 2020, their fruit providing what may be the most beautiful East Bench Zinfandel yet. The wine feels completely ripe, a cool well of fruit surrounded by earthen depth of tannins. Over the course of several days, the wine yields flavors of blueberries, roses and savory herbs, the detail in the tannins suggesting a long life ahead.” -J.G. (June 2022)
Blue Lifestyle: 94 Points “Smooth and deep, with tangy berry fruit, with notes of cinnamon and vanilla, nicely structured, long, layered and lovely, from one of the world’s greatest Zinfandel regions.” -Anthony Dias Blue (March 2022)
OwenBargreen.com: 92 Points “This 100% varietal bottling came from an exceedingly small crop and was harvested the first week of September. The nose is very appealing with its blood orange zest and wild strawberry tones alongside shades of wintergreen. The palate is very soft and approachable with bright acidity and red raspberry, pomegranate seed and sour red cherry flavors alongside this brilliant vein of tension. Just an infant now, this medium-bodied, well-structured Zin will surely cellar well for another ten years or more. Drink 2022-2032” -Owen Bargreen (March 2022)
Zinfandel Chronicles: 92 Points “Crimson in color. 14.8% ABV. 100% Zinfandel from Funsten Ranch. Enticing nose of red and black fruits, plums and cocoa. Medium body with tremendous acidity. Rich and savory. Strawberry, black raspberry, earth and pepper on the palate. The finish is long and supple. Super Zinfandel that is a perfect reflection of the Dry Creek Valley. Best over the next 3-5 years.” -Tom Lee (March 2022)
Fine Wine Review: 90 Points “Again in a more elegant and refined style than in recent years, this wine displays spicy red fruits and an airy body the I often find in Dry Creek Zinfandels. The tannins are round and the alcohol is not especially noticeable. Perhaps a bit more oak is showing than in the Paso Robles Zinfandel.” -Claude Kolm (June 2022)
Wine Enthusiast: 90 Points “This big, boisterous 100% varietal wine piles fresh, grapy aromas on ripe blackberry and boysenberry flavors braced by moderate tannins and a full body. It is robust and fun, perfect for casual, meaty meals.” -Jim Gordon
JebDunnuck.com: 90 Points “The 2020 Zinfandel East Bench reveals a medium ruby/plum color to go with more savory notes of red and black plums, baking spices, dried herbs, and incense. It’s medium-bodied on the palate, has a good mouthfeel, fine tannins, and a solid finish. It comes in a fair click behind the 2018 and 2019, but it’s nevertheless an outstanding wine as well as a terrific effort in this challenging vintage.” -Jeb Dunnuck (August 2022)
Average Rating: 91.1
No. of Tasting Notes: 16
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