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Ridge Vineyards - magical 2018 vintage

Ridge needs little introduction, however the magical 2018 vintage does.

Notes are included for each of the 4 wines that are offered.

Tasting Notes from Vinous.com (Sept'20) - Antonio Galloni

"I tasted more wines than ever at Ridge this year. Not that I am complaining, as this collection is jam-packed with fabulous wines that will delight Ridge fans. Mild weather with no heat spikes created conditions for even ripening in 2018. As I have already written previously, 2018 is an absolutely magical vintage for Sonoma County. The 2018 Zinfandel and Zinfandel-based wines are off the charts gorgeous, with a level of purity I am not sure I have seen before."

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East Bench Zinfandel 2018

£260 per 12 in bond (5 cases)

Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma

Vinous 91pts Drink 2022-2030 

100% Zinfandel – Organically Grown (14.9% alc)

The 2018 Zinfandel East Bench is an absolute joy to taste. Bright acids perk up the sweet red berry fruit in this lively, flavourful 100% Zinfandel from vineyards in Dry Creek. Fresh, vinous and so wonderfully inviting, the 2018 is delicious now, but also has the energy to develop in bottle for another decade, perhaps more.

Ridge has made the East Bench as a single vineyard wine 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.

The growing season at this hilltop vineyard began favourably with mild spring weather. Thanks to steady, warm weather throughout August, all seven parcels were ready to pick by early September. After fermenting each separately, we chose six for their exuberant fruit, elegant tannins and balanced acidity. Enjoyable upon release this exemplary zinfandel will evolve over six to seven years. 


Geyserville 2018

£360 per 12 in bond (10 cases)

Alexander Valley, Sonoma

Vinous 94+pts Drink 2026-2033 

68% Zinfandel, 20% Carignane, 10% Petite Sirah, 2% Alicante Bouschet (14.7% alc)

The 2018 Geyserville is an infant. That much is obvious, especially in this line-up of otherwise more settled 2018s. Ripe Zinfandel flavours drive the overall profile. A blast of wild cherry, leather, tobacco, smoke, liquorice, menthol and spice hit the palate first, followed by swaths of tannin and a touch of new oak that suggest the wine still needs time to come together. Readers should be in no rush.

Ridge has made the Geyserville as a single-site zinfandel every year since 1966. The grapes are grown in three adjoining vineyards on a defined stretch of gravelly soil approximately one-and-a-quarter miles long and a half-mile wide.

Winter was dry, though storms in March brought significant rain. Summer remained cool, with warmth arriving just before harvest in mid-September. Fermentations took longer to fully extract colour and tannin. Carignane and petite sirah showed exceptional quality, particularly when co-fermented within the old vine zinfandel parcels. This sensuous wine, with its rich fruit and wonderful complexity, will be enjoyable over the next twelve years. 


Lytton Springs 2018

£360 per 12 in bond (10 cases)

Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma

Vinous 96pts Drink 2026-2048 

72% Zinfandel, 18% Petite Sirah, 8% Carignane, 2% Mataro (14.5% alc)

The 2018 Lytton Springs is magnificent. Elegant, layered and so complete, the 2018 has a lot to offer, but it needs time to fully come together. Sweet red cherry, red plum, blood orange, spice, mint and rose petal open up in the glass. Bright acids and beams of tannin give the wine its vibrant energy. Readers should plan on cellaring the 2018 for at least a few years. Wow!

In 1972, Ridge made its first Lytton Springs from vines planted on the eastern half of the vineyard at the turn of the century. Both the eastern and western portions of the vineyard were purchased in the early 1990s, (In the 1870s, under “Captain” William Litton’s ownership, the two were part of one property; spelling evolved to “Lytton” by 1903.) The vineyard is planted to zinfandel and its principal complementary varietals.

After several early harvests, 2018 began on September 4th, a more typical start-date for Sonoma County. Natural yeast fermentations were slow but steady. Colour and tannin were plentiful after just three days of maceration. To manage tannin extraction, we limited pump-overs to once a day for all petite sirah and many zinfandel lots. While approachable as a young wine, this full, rich zinfandel will age beautifully for at least ten years. 


Estate Chardonnay 2018

£450 per 12 in bond (2 cases)

Santa Cruz Mountains

Vinous 94pts Drink 2022-2028 

100% Chardonnay (14.3% alc)

The 2018 Chardonnay is classy, translucent and so vivid. Apricot, tangerine oil and light tropical overtones open up first, but the 2018 only starts to show all it has to offer with some aeration. The layers start to fill out, and yet the 2018 never loses its sense of transparency and overall detail. A real sense of phenolic weight gives the wine its distinctive mountain feel.

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.

Winter was late to arrive, delivering a season’s worth of rainfall in March. Spring remained cold, followed by heavier-than-usual summer fog, slowing vine progress for a late September harvest. Thirteen parcels barrel fermented and sur lees aged for fifteen months. This fine chardonnay was an assemblage of barrels showing appealing fruit and elegance. It will be enjoyable over the next five years. 


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