This time we were summon up to sample a range of Ridge's Rhone variety wines, which are released to one of their clubs - The Advanced Tasting Program (ATP). Unlike the other attendees, I'm actually a member. From my experience and preference, they tend to improve with a couple years age, so I usually stash them away instead of opening one of my two bottles. That makes an opportunity to try them without opening one of mine quite helpful. To that end, Ridge began monthly First Friday events about a year ago, where they'll pour the latest ATP wine to members, with a wine pick-up option, on the months that coincide with a club release.
For this tasting, you'll see we were poured a current release alongside one or two bottles of the same wine with a bit of age. That's always good to get an idea of how a wine evolves, as well as to compare vintage differences.
We started with a couple single vineyard Chardonnays from along the ridge. Both vineyards usually contribute to Ridge's Estate or Monte Bello bottlings, but some or all can be bottled separately if they are distinct and/or don't meet the desired characteristics of those regular bottlings. On release, Ridge Chards appeal to those who like the typical oaky California style. Yawn. But, with a lot of age they are a very different animal and are among the state's best. These two are made for earlier drinking. As we were assembling, we were served the '08 Jimsomare, which I posted notes on a few times before. Didn't take notes, but did observe that it's mellowed over the last few months and is more ready to drink. The '08 Mikulaco is a new release, which I believe is only available through the tasting room.
'08 Chardonnay Mikulaco (SCM) Nose - gorgeous, elegant, delicately spice loquat, with white peach, lemon and vanilla. Creamy. Unctuous, zingy, white peach, underripe apricot, brown oak spice, lime, mandarin zest. 89 pts
'02 Carignane Buchignani Ranch (Sonoma County) Nose - spicy, light brown sugar, mature, balsam, black plum, Hansen's cola, touches of nutmeg and cardamon. Soft black plum, touch of raspberry jam, dried herbs, lemon zest, grippy tannin. 89 pts
'05 Carignane Buchignani Ranch (Sonoma County) Nose - forward smoke, dried herbs and gorgeous spices, with red and black fruit, earth and savory mushroom. Smooth, spicy raspberry jam, with touches of oak spice, lime zest and pith. Young but delicious. Drink now-'15. 92 pts
'08 Carignane Buchignani Ranch (Sonoma County) Nose - redwood, raspberry, black plum. Very bright and heady. Dark character, dried herbs and smoke. Dark raspberry jam, redwood, lemon balm, balsam, real cinnamon, thyme, marjoram. 92 pts
'06 Syrah/Grenache Lytton Estate (Dry Creek Valley) Nose- spicy earthy pure purple fruit, dark, rustic, smoky. Black plum and blackberry enveloping oak, firm tannin, astringent zest, kumquat, slight bitterness, hint of peach. Drink '14-'20. 91+ pts
'05 Syrah/Grenache Lytton Estate (Dry Creek Valley) Nose - rustic, berry, morel, a bit of a meaty/smoky/molasses note. Meaty, smoky black fruit, mushroom, blackberry, loquat, mango, raspberry, dusty tannin, jasmine, lime zest. Drink '13-'20. 92 pts
'03 Syrah Lytton West (Dry Creek Valley) (9% Viognier) Nose - sweetish/almost porty, deep berry with brown sugar and marachino, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove. Sweet, dusty dark berry, redwood, a bit simple, very pure. 88 pts
'05 Syrah Lytton West (Dry Creek Valley) (6% Viognier) Nose - deep smoky dried herbs, summer savory, boysenberry, apricot, black plum. Smoky dried herbs, boysenberry, peach. Nice. Drink '12-'20. 92 pts
'06 Petite Sirah "Dynamite Hill" York Creek Vineyard (Spring Mountain District) Nose - dark black and blue fruit, allspice, white pepper, cinnamon, coffee/mocha. A bit grippy, very dark fruit, graphite, good complexity. Should evolve very well. Drink now-'50. 94 pts
'03 Petite Sirah "Dynamite Hill" York Creek Vineyard (Spring Mountain District) Nose - plum and redwood, lovely background oak spices. Heavy dark sweet plummy fruit, grippy tannin, lemon zest, slight hint of tobacco. Drink '16-'31. 92 pts