1. LesEnfants: This is MikeDashe's rendition of a "natural" wine. I've had four of these before (Zin & Grenache) and found them rather underwhelming, if that good. This one is by far the best LET I've had. But still underwhelmed. I was not going to bother trying it but his Riesling from McFaddenRanch is spectacular, so thought I'd give LET another shot. It's a pretty old-timey Zin that reminds me a lot of the Parducci Zins from the early '70's. I much prefer Mike's regular (non-"natural"??) Zins, which show more intensity of fruit & varietal character. I'll leave the LET to sweet Alice from now on.
2. RidgeChard: I have, of course, followed the Ridge Chards from the very start. Back in the late '60's. Back then, in Calif Chards you looked for intense fruit flavors and lots of new oak. The DavidBruce's were the poster child for that style of Chard...a style that is widely scorned today by so-called "connoiseurs" of Calif wine. Back then (by crackey), the Ridge Chards (and Sylvaner & WhiteRiesling) were very/very odd ducks. I didn't like them. They had a bit of old oak, not that much fruit because they were harvested fairly early, and had a distinctive earthy/SantaCruzMtn streak to them.
The winter of '75, I took a group of engineer-types up to TheRidge for a visit. DaveBennion was hosting us. We went thru a bunch of the new '73 Zins with Dave up there on the knoll. Blustery winter day, windy, and colder than a well-digger's hiney. After we were there for about an hour, I made an off-hand comment to Dave that I really liked his Zins, but I thought his whites were not so hot. Dave rolled his eyes and sorta took that as a challenge. He headed off to the cellar and brought out a bunch of Chards (and White Rieslings) from the late '60's for us to try. They were
amazingly good, much like an old Chablis or WhiteBurg. Dave was quite pleased with himself of having made his point... you've gotta give them some age. Thus, I became a big fan of the Ridge Chards thru the '70's and bought every one I could lay my hands on. Alas, the Ridge WebSite was not up & running then...so I couldn't order direct.
As I have followed the Ridge Chards from the early '00's, they were much different than the early style that Dave followed. They have often been quite ripe and have lots of toasty/Fr.oak. The last few yrs, the Ridge Chards have shown a lot more restraint and balance. This '09 Estate is one such.
The Estate Chard is a new wine for Ridge. They've always made a MonteBello Chard and, with lots that were down-selected, they produced a SantaCruzMtn Chard. In order to emphasize that the fruit comes entirely from their Estate (mostly Jimsomare I believe), they are now calling it simply their Estate Chard.
3. Ridge Zins: I have, of course, followed the Ridge Zins from the very start. Back in the '70's, has the winemaking was being handed off to PaulDraper by DaveBennion; they were pretty big/massive Zins, not always particularly alcoholic, though some were, and lots of vanilla/Am.oak. They've had a very distinctive aromatic profile that has become to be known as the "Draper perfume"; a term christened by Geo. As more & more of the daily winemaking chores have been handed off to JohnOlney/LyttonEstate and EricBaugher/MonteBello; there's been a gradual evolution in the Ridge Zins over the last 10 yrs or so. There's been a fading of the "Draper perfume" characteristic of the old Ridge Zins, though the oak treatment still remains obvious in the wines. There's been somewhat of an increase in the fruit that seems more characteristic of the vnyd source (that terroir thing I guess), the extraction level has dropped a bit; and the balance & elegance level has risen. What has struck me most is the consistency in style of the Zins across
the board...there is no "EricBaugher style" or "JohnOlney style"....just the "Ridge style". I'd be curious if John/Eric/Paul could identify reliably, blind, Eric's wine from John's.
The Zins oftentimes seem a bit underwhelming on release. There are bigger/brasher/more in-your-face Zins out there. But there are none that are such reliably good agers. The drinking windows Eric & John provide are usually on the conservative side and, often, they can go well beyond that end date.
The last three vintages of the Zins have been in absolutely top form; much better than the '05 & '06 vintages, as I recall. I'd be hard-pressed to choose amongst the three..maybe giving the '09's a slight edge..but it's close.
4. YorkCreek: This is typically my least favorite of the Ridge Zins. From FritzMaytag's SpringMtn vnyd. It used to be that these grapes consistently came in on the overipe side and the wine was pretty hot/alcoholic and had a late- harvesty character. In recent yrs, that problem seems to have been solved and they don't seem nearly as overripe. Alas, Ridge no longer takes (much) PS from YorkCreek. Fritz was giving Paul a sweetheart deal on those grapes and could sell them for a much higher price to Napa Cabernet producers who needed a boost to their Cabernet color. And they also used to make Cabernet & Merlot from YorkCreek that were pleasant/nice, but not nearly the stature of their SCM Cabs.
5. Pagani: This is almost always my favorite lineup of the Ridge Zins. Typically, this wine shows more old-vines character. The Alicante often seems to give it a sort of rustic/old-time Ridgecharacter. In some yrs, Ridge even made a Pagani AlicanteBouschet that was black as the ace of spades. Very interesting wine. It will be interesting to see what Morgan and MikeOfficer do w/ these grapes.