2012 Louis Latour Mercurey
2007 Ridge Geyserville
2008 Villa Creek Mas de Maha
2012 Bella Grace Petite Sirah Reserve
Noël Bougrier Vouvray Pétillant Blanc de Blanc Brut
2012 Louis Latour Mercurey – $24.99
This 100% Pinot Noir is from the village of Mercurey in the Côte Chalonnaise region. The vines are an average of 25 years old. After a traditional fermentation, the wine is aged 10 to 12 months in stainless steel vats. The wine has 13.0% alcohol and the bottle is sealed with an agglomerated cork.
My Tasting Note
The wine is a light red to ruby color. The appealing nose has cherries, baking spices, white pepper, chalky minerals, orange zest, dry earth and dried wildflowers. This has medium body with soft to moderate tannins and very nice acidity. On the palate tart cherries, spice and minerals jump out first with white pepper and dry earth coming in later. The finish has nice length with white pepper and a hint of orange zest adding nice depth. Not the most complex wine out there, but this is very tasty and offers great QPR for around $25. (90 pts)
2007 Ridge Geyserville – $23.74
I always have a hard time choosing a favorite between the Ridge Lytton Springs and the Ridge Geyserville wines. Both are zinfandel based blends but since Zinfandel generally constitutes less than 75% of the blend, they aren’t labeled as a Zinfandel. This vintage is a blend of 58% Zinfandel, 22% Carignane, 18% Petite Sirah, 2% Mataro (Mourvedre). This wine is disappearing from my cellar at a fairly fast rate of speed, of the 15 bottles I originally purchased; I now have less than half remaining.
The alcohol is listed at 14.4% and this uses a natural cork closure.
The history of Ridge Vineyards begins in 1885, when Osea Perrone, a doctor who became a prominent member of San Francisco’s Italian community, bought 180 acres near the top of Monte Bello Ridge. He terraced the slopes and planted vineyards; using native limestone, he constructed the Monte Bello Winery, producing the first vintage under that name in 1892. This unique cellar, built into the mountainside on three levels, is Ridge’s production facility. At 2600′, it is surrounded by the “upper vineyard.”
In the 1940s, William Short, a theologian, bought the abandoned winery and vineyard just below the Perrone property; he replanted several parcels to cabernet sauvignon in the late 1940s. From these vines — now the “middle vineyard”— new owners Dave Bennion and his three partners, all Stanford Research Institute engineers, made a quarter-barrel of “estate” cabernet. That Monte Bello Cabernet was among California’s finest wines of the era. Its quality and distinctive character, and the wines produced from these same vines in 1960 and ’61, convinced the partners to re-bond the winery in time for the 1962 vintage.
The first zinfandel was made in 1964, from a small nineteenth-century vineyard farther down the ridge. This was followed in 1966 by the first Geyserville zinfandel. The founding families reclaimed the Monte Bello terraces, increasing vineyard size from fifteen to forty-five acres. Working on weekends, they made wines of regional character and unprecedented intensity. By 1968, production had increased to just under three thousand cases per year, and in 1969, Paul Draper joined the partnership. A Stanford graduate in philosophy—recently returned from setting up a winery in Chile’s coast range—he was a practical winemaker, not an enologist. His knowledge of fine wines and traditional methods complemented the straightforward “hands off” approach pioneered at Ridge. Under his guidance the old Perrone winery (acquired the previous year) was restored, the finest vineyard lands leased or purchased, the consistent quality and international reputation of the wines established. Cabernet and Zinfandel account for most of the production; Syrah, Grenache, Carignane, and Petite Sirah constitute a small percentage. Known primarily for its red wines, Ridge has also made limited amounts of chardonnay since 1962.
Lytton Springs, in Sonoma County, became part of the Ridge estate in 1991. A quarter century’s experience with this vineyard had convinced us that it was an exceptional piece of ground. Forty consecutive vintages of Geyserville attest to yet another stunning combination of location and varietals. Though born in the early sixties to the post-Prohibition world of modern California winemaking, Ridge relies on nature and tradition rather than technology. Our approach is straightforward: find intense, flavorful grapes; intrude upon the process only when necessary; draw the fruit’s distinctive character and richness into the wine.
My Tasting Note
The wine is a deep ruby to maroon color. The very enticing nose has brambly berries, cherry, black pepper, licorice, warm baking spices, charred meat, forest floor, and a touch of vanilla. This has medium body, fairly solid tannins, and very nice acidity. The palate has nice up front fruit and spice with more spice, licorice, and meaty elements coming in on the back end. The finish is long with spice laden fruit slowly giving way to more earthy elements that seem to linger forever. This is in a very nice drinking window and should hold for at least a few more years. (92 pts)
2008 Villa Creek Mas de Maha – $29.75
This is a blend of 60% Tempranillo, 20% Grenache and 10% each Mourvedre and Carignan from Paso Robles. There were only 375 cases of this wine produced.
This has 15.2% alcohol and the bottle is sealed with a twist off closure.
My Tasting Note
The wine is a deep dark ruby to maroon color. The invigorating nose is full of raspberries, crushed stones, cherries, potpourri, incense, vanilla, scorched earth, licorice and cocoa powder. This full bodied gem has moderate to solid tannins and very nice acidity. On the palate layers of fruit and savory elements take turns grabbing the show, first raspberries then crushed stones then scorched earth then cherries then… the show continues. The finish has very nice length again with the fruit and savory elements taking turns trying to steal the show. This is drinking at its peak and should hold for a few more years. I’ve been a fan of this wine for several vintages and this is one of the best bottles I’ve opened. Superb! (94 pts)
2012 Bella Grace Petite Sirah Reserve – $20.00
The winery was named for the owner’s two grandmother’s, Bella and Grace. This wine uses grapes from the estate’s BellaGrace Vineyard in Amador County. The wine has 13.8% alcohol.
My Tasting Note
The wine is a deep maroon color. The exuberant nose has blackberries, dusty minerals, cocoa powder, iron shavings, black pepper, scorched earth, dried leafy herbs, road tar, warm baking spices and dried violets. This has medium body with solid tannins and very nice acidity. On the palate blackberries, dusty minerals, cocoa powder and black pepper grab hold on the front end, slowly allowing scorched earth and dried herbs to slip through. The finish has good length with iron shavings and baking spices entering the picture adding nice complexity and depth. This is young, I’ll hold off a few years before opening another bottle. The additional cellar time will be rewarded. (91 pts)
Noël Bougrier Vouvray Pétillant Blanc de Blanc Brut – $18.99
The wine is a bright golden straw color. The refreshing nose has apples, orange zest, yeasty bread, chalky minerals, white flowers and a touch of nuttiness. This has light to medium body with pinpoint bubbles and crisp acidity. On the palate tart apples, orange zest and minerals dominate the front end with white flowers and a yeasty note coming in on the back end. The finish has nice length with a lime note popping out and seeming to linger forever. Not a great deal of complexity here, but that doesn’t stop it from being delicious. (91 pts)
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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines. I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar. I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com. Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear. There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.
Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase. I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but always check out the sale and close out items when in a store. Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges. None of the prices include the sales tax.
All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.