Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out. For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2009 Ridge Vineyards Estate Merlot.
Ridge Vineyards is a California winery with two estates, Monte Bello in Cupertino, and Lytton Springs in Healdsburg. They are best known for producing single-vineyard premium Bordeaux style Cabernet Sauvignon Blend (“Monte Bello”), Zinfandels, and Chardonnay. Ridge was established by three engineers from nearby Stanford Research Institute (SRI). They produced its first commercial wine in 1962 after purchasing the winery in 1960.
Great wines have always been determined by their site – by nature, not by man – Paul Draper
It wasn’t too long after that, that Ridge gained an international rep when the Ridge Monte Bello, under the direction of winemaker Paul Draper , took fifth place in the “Judgment of Paris” in 1976 against nine other French and California wines. Here’s what’s really cool though, the 1976 Monte Bello unanimously took first place in The Judgment of Paris 30th Anniversary when it was tasted against the same wines thirty years later!
From the bottle – Ridge made a Merlot from the Monte Bello vineyard in 1974, 1976, and from 1991 to 1997; this is our first bottling since then. In the excellent 2009 vintage, the Casa Grande parcel, and the six-acre of 25 acre were fermented separately and combined for limited release.
It underwent a whole-berry fermentation with native yeasts and was aged for twenty months in 75% new (25% year-old) air-dried American oak.
My tasting notes follow:
Dark ruby color with aromatic black cherry, blueberry, cassis and a kiss of vanilla, and baking spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, balanced and elegant with black cherry, blueberry, raspberry and vanilla flavors. Long finish. 14.2% alcohol.
Pair with: Grilled chops (veal, pork or lamb), or Mediterranean Vegetable Ragout On A Bed of Polenta
Sample purchased for review
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
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