Ridge Zinfandel – 3-way Round-up Review

By Duane Pemberton
Winery website: http://www.ridgewine.com

There is perhaps no more of an iconic zinfandel producer in the world than Ridge Vineyards. Its pedigree of producing quality zins in the quantities it does is a bit mind-boggling – year after year, they’re consistently good.

In this review, I take a look at three of their new releases, all from different vineyard sites and slightly different blends with zinfandel being the prominent grape.

2009 Lytton Springs W.E.P. Rating: 90%

Technical Data:

  • Bottled: February 2011
  • Blend: 71% zinfandel, 23% petite sirah, 6% carignane
  • 14.5% alcohol by volume
  • Harvest Dates: 11 September – 4 October
  • Grapes: Average Brix 25.4 degrees
  • Fermentation: Natural primary and secondary. Pressed at eight days.
  • Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (18% new; 57% one, two and three years old; 25% four and five years old)
  • Aging: Fourteen months in barrel
  • Price: $35

Nose: Fresh cranberry with black peppercorn, cigar wrapper cocoa powder, cherry cola and a splash of loganberry.

Taste: Classic zinfandel flavors coming through which include cigar tobacco, chocolate, raspberry, cherry and a touch of tar and shoe polish. Nice acids and relativly youn tannin combine with good fruit and a finish that lingers rather well. Drink now or in another 3-5 years for an even better experience.

2009 Pagani Ranch – W.E.P. Rating: 100%

Technical Data:

  • Bottled: March 2011
  • 80% zinfandel, 14% alicante bouschet, 4% petite sirah, 2% carignane
  • 15.0% alcohol by volume
  • Harvest Date: 11 October
  • Grapes: Average Brix 26.1 degrees
  • Fermentation: No inoculation; natural primary and secondary. Pressed at nine days.
  • Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (14% one year, 53% two years old, and 33% four years old).
  • Aging: Fourteen months in barrel
  • Price: $35

Nose: Chocolate-peppered raspberries, cherries, tobaao, spice and leather.

Taste: This Zinfandel is a superb blind of jamminess, spice and fruit – thet spiced-raspberry attack on the front end is a mouth-orgasm that begs for grilled foods. It has a solid mid-palate that combines good tannin and fruit that continues well into a finish that hangs out for weeks. A very solid zinfandel that should be highly sought out amongst zinfandel-lovers as it presents a solid experience for the money.

2009 York Creek – W.E.P. Rating: 85%

Technical Data:

  • Bottled January 2010
  • 93% zinfandel, 7% petite sirah
  • 15.3% alcohol by volume
  • Harvest Dates: 21 – 26 September
  • Grapes: Average Brix 27.1 degrees
  • Fermentation: No inoculation; natural primary and secondary. Pressed at nine days.
  • Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (20% new, 30% one and two years old, and 35% four and five years old)
  • Aging: Twelve months in barrel
  • Price: $30

Nose: Raspberry-laced oak with drops of vanilla. I also get notes of cigar wrapper, white pepper and blackberry.

Taste: Definitely get that oaked-raspberry component coming through along with cocoa powder, blackberry compot and black peppercorns. Good mid palate that provides a nice mouthfeel, however, this is definitely a new-world-lover’s wine with the oak and vanilla notes that linger on the finish.