Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ridge/Woodside/GBH - 8/30/08

Excited by the release of the new Woodside Vineyards Pinot, I organized this tour around one of their open house dates. My friend Dave Tong was able to get us an appointment at Great Blue Heron Vineyard (also in Woodside) - something I was curious to try.

We met up at Ridge for their "Taste of Monte Bello" themed tasting. I inferred that this would be a tasting of 5 or more estate wines and include the '05 Monte Bello. Nope. The $10 fee for non-members was for just 3 estate wines, no Monte Bello. There were also 2 free non-themed wines. As most of our group had already tried these wines, it was a bit disappointing. But the wines are good, our pourer was fun, and we had a good time.

I did learn the "Estate" now tacked onto some of the SCM wines does mean something, and isn't just some arbitrary change. I knew the SCM wines were all from grapes grown on the Monte Bello ridge, but not all the vineyards are owned by Ridge. The "Estate" wines are from 100% Ridge owned vineyards.

'06 Chardonnay SCM Estate
Nose - a bit tight, warm minerally pear, apple, lemon.
Tingly, zippy, lots of mineral, soft zest, mucho pear, tropical notes. (91 pts.)

'05 SCM Estate (58% C.S., 43% Merlot)
Nose - blackberry with minerally Merlot character.
Tight, grippy, signature Monte Bello, Merlot dominant, dusty, some char. (90+ pts.)

'02 Home Ranch (50% C.S., 48% Merlot, 2% Petite Verdot)
Nose - boysenberry, earthy.
Very tight, grippy, closed, dusty, needs to open up, blackberry, char. As it opens, there's cassis, some P.V. flair and a MB signature. (91+ pts)
Note: When we had this with our picnic up there in March, they insisted on decanting it for us and it was much more open.

'02 Syrah Lytton Estate (21% Grenache, 3% Carignane)
Nose - dark, with blackberry, char and mandarin.
Firm mineral structure, blackberry, red plum, sandalwood. (88 pts)

'02 Syrah II Lytton Estate (22% Grenache, 2% Viognier)
Less giving nose.
Rounder, softer, tarter, smooth dusty tannin, blackberry with peach and vanilla, some char, violets. Grippy mouthfeel, but heavenly essence. (92 pts.)

Woodside Vineyard featured 4 new releases, plus their spring release King's and the sparkler. These are all from Woodside fruit.

'97 Estate Sparkling Wine (50/50 Pinot Noir/Chardonnay)
Yeasty, lemony, tangy, musty, with the slightest wisp of rancidity. (83 pts.)

'06 Chardonnay
Nose - mellow lemon, mesquite smoke, meaty.
Signature SCM Chard fruit, meaty, round, good acidity. Nice. Ready. (88 pts.)

'05 Pinot noir
Gorgeous nose - rich, intense, a plethora of black and red fruit, light florality, rustic.
Complex array of roasted fruit, lingering touch of rhubarb, hint of integrated sulfur, finishes with brambly berries. (94 pts.)

'05 Zinfandel Estate
Nose - warm, pasty red brambly berry and black plum.
Sweetish, sharp, tangy, touch of heat, intense brambly blackberry. (88 pts.)

'05 King's Mountain Cabernet
Nose - blackberry, cassis, violet, hints of cedar and pine.
Blackberry, orange and orange zest, fine tannin, the slightest hint of sulfur, a touch of eucalyptus. (89+ pts.)

'04 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate
Nose - blackberry, blueberry, camphor.
Prominent acid dominates olallieberry fruit, assertive dusty tannin.
The acid will always dominate, and the fruit will only fade. Good now with the right food. Don't age. (87 pts.)

Dave was only able to join us at Great Blue Heron, and he made a later visit to Woodside. See his notes: These are all 100% estate grapes. The vineyard is off Portola Rd., so I drive by there regularly going to and from Chaine d'Or.

'06 Pinot Noir
Nose - white chocolate, black cherry, cardamon, sweetness.
Blackberry, raspberry, cardamon, sandalwood, cherry. Nose is strange and off putting. (80 pts.)

'07 Pinot Noir
Nose - dark, rich fruit qualities, with some red.
Black plum, red berries, some rhubarb, chalky tannin, cardamon, sandalwood. Shows a glimpse of what I love about eastside SCM PN. (86+ pts)

I should note that of our group of 7, I probably liked these the least. Most people purchased. I noticed a real Cinsault-like quality to these wines and some in our group are big fans of Ch. Musar and southern Rhones.

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