Ridge Vineyards has a long history, dating back to 1885 when the vineyards at Monte Bello Ridge where first planted. Since 1959 a group of Standford University researchers took over the Estate and later also the vineyards of Monte Bello and later the Lytton Springs estate in Sonoma.
Their philosophy is described as Pre industrial, and examples of their approach includes: Trust tasting more than measurements and reduce additives and interventions both in cellar and vineyards. For me their true treasure is their vineyards with very old vines. My impression when tasting their wines is that they harvest amazing fruit, giving a dense and complex expression.
I would also recommend everyone to visit their fantastic website where they have an abundance of information about their history, philosophy, vineyards and wine making principles.
Below are tasting notes for the Ridge Vineyard wines
2014 Ridge Chardonnay Estate
This is a generous and opulent Chardonnay both on nose and palate. The fruit is ripe and dominated by pineapple, stone fruit, melon, but also some lemon. The acidity is rather careful but of good quality and balances the fruit well. There is also rather clear notes of oak both on the nose and palate, especially in the finish. This is a good quality Chardonnay without major surprises.
2014 Ridge Lytton Springs
Very forward on the nose with brimming bright red fruit on top of a base of blueberries. The body is slightly slimmer and have darker fruit notes. There are sandy tannins that gives good structure and there is a good fresh acidity to balance all the fruit. I do get a slight green note in the background. This is a generous wine that still keeps balanced and it should develop well with time.
This wine offered an abundance of dense blue fruit and has a very juicy character on the palate. There are some tannins and a rather soft acidity that takes a back seat to the fruit. Some oak notes adds extra sweetness to the wine. This is a very opulent wine.
2014 Ridge Zinfandel Pagani Ranch
Extremely dense layered dark fruit on both nose and palate but also some spices, minerals, game and vanilla from oak. Example of fruit notes are ripe plums, cherries and blueberries. There is a good tannic backbone to the wine. This wine is dense and powerful but still avoids getting too heavy.
This year has less Merlot then usually. Aged on 100% new American oak.
This is a opulent and powerful wine that still manages to stay intense. The nose and palate contains an abundance of cassis, cedar, vanilla, violet and blackberries. The acidity is rather soft and stays in the background, still the wine keeps a rather intense expression. Tannins are grippy and rather sandy at the moment. I think the wine is surprisingly approachable already but it should be stored.
There is an intense fruit in this wine, but also an abundance of cedar, graphite and a vanilla from oak. The fruit contains plums, ripe cherries, blackberries and blueberries. It still has a grippy tannic structure that is of good quality and an intense fresh acidity that gives a rather energetic expression for this otherwise heavy wine. Still needs much more time before it peaks.
Very earthy character and there is an abundance of blueberries, cedar, mushroom, graphite, vanilla, but also some leather notes. The fruit is ripe and almost dry in the character. The palate has a round and soft feeling with silky tannins and rather low levels of acidity. This is a wine that shows clear effects from aging, resulting in a complex nose and palate but also a lack of energy, and I would be hesitant to store it longer.
Summary of impressions from the Ridge Vineyard wines
Ridge vineyards produce dense and powerful wines and they use a lot of new oak and some of it American, resulting in sweet vanilla notes. Personally I wish they where more careful on the usage of new oak. Still their amazing fruit shines through in the wines and they manage to keep a rather vibrant and energetic expression. For me the 2013 Ridge Monte Bello stood out, but I was also positively surprised by the 2014 Ridge Zinfandel Pagani Ranch and the 2014 Ridge Lytton Springs.