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Ridge Estate - Are these the Perfect Wines?

The wines of Ridge Estate will be open for tasting this Saturday at JN (28 September). Both the Ridge Geyserville 2011 and the Ridge Lytton Springs 2011 have a 15% discount

How would you describe your perfect wine? Delicious flavour? Ripe, sweet fruit perfectly balanced with refreshing acidity? Complexity – a wine that develops as you drink it, that captures your interest to the bottom of the glass? A wine that will mature and develop over the years? Moderate alcohol? A wine that has been made in ways that have minimal environmental impact and made with as few additives as possible?

If the above factors are on your wishlist, then if you’re not already familiar with Ridge, you might want to make their acquaintance.

Ridge is based in the Santa Cruz Mountains of Sonoma County in California, a dream location for growing grapes. It’s warm and sunny enough to ripen even Cabernet Sauvignon reliably, but high and cool enough to keep things from getting overripe. Grapes, not unlike humans, fare a lot better with a bit of sunshine but they need to be cool enough to sleep comfortably at night. Imagine how relaxed and healthy we would be if our weather were so accommodating…

Paul Draper has been winemaker at Ridge since 1971. Draper is a graduate philosopher, not a scientist, nor a graduate of winemaking college. Draper’s humble yet incredibly skilful winemaking has earned him the accolade of Winemaker’s Winemaker 2013 – a peer reviewed award that demonstrates the incredibly high esteem in which he is held within the industry.

“At Ridge we begin with respect for the natural process that transforms fresh grapes into wine, and for the 19th century model of guiding that process with minimal intervention. When you have great vineyards that produce high-quality grapes of distinct, individual character, this approach is not only environmentally and socially responsible, it’s also the best way to consistently make fine wine.”

Draper uses all the knowledge available to him to ensure his grapes mature successfully and his wines are the best possible quality. There is a very well equipped laboratory at Ridge and seriously high tech monitoring going on in the vineyards. Nothing escapes the notice of the Ridge team! Having said that, the vast majority of their decisions are based on continual tastings, not formulas or scientific measurements (which requires a fine palate and years of experience).

The team make red and white wines – Chardonnay is the white grape of choice and their top red is a Cabernet-based blend of traditional Bordeaux varieties. The Lytton Springs and Geyserville sites produce the most wonderful Zinfandel blends we have ever tasted. Even the wines that are ready to drink on release will age beautifully for years.

As a Ridge customer you only have to read the front label to see exactly what makes up their blends – something that many winemakers prefer to keep secret. In the spirit of full disclosure, they are now adding an ingredients list to their back labels. It’s an interesting move that is causing a bit of a stir in wine circles. There are many additives and techniques that have been sanctioned for use in winemaking and they can be used to adjust colour, tannin, alcohol and various other things. For winemakers with less than ideal fruit quality, they can be a godsend. Or if you’re making wine that has to fit a certain style, they may be indispensable. For Ridge, many additives and techniques are too invasive and would destroy some of the inherent fruit quality they have so carefully cultivated. An ingredients list on the back of a Ridge label will read something like this, “hand picked sustainably grown grapes, indigenous yeasts, naturally occurring malolactic bacteria, oak from barrel ageing and minimum effective SO2.” It takes a great deal of skill to make winemaking sound this simple!

Are these the perfect wines? You will have to judge for yourself… the wines of Ridge Estate will be open for tasting this Saturday (28 September). Both the Ridge Geyserville 2011 and the Ridge Lytton Springs 2011 have a 15% discount

Ridge Geyserville 2011

ROI - shelf price: €35.70 offer price: €30.00

Ridge Lytton Springs 2011

ROI - shelf price: €35.70 offer price: €30.00

The much sought after Monte Bello 2010 will also be open in our free Ridge tasting on Saturday 28th September.