In a nutshell: An excellent Californian Cabernet dominated Bordeaux blend from one of the state's greatest vineyards.
The lowdown: The highly regarded Ridge winery is all about single vineyard wines, farmed sustainably and organically with a hands off approach, letting each wine from each site each year show its 'true' self. Their Estate Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the famed nineteenth century Monte Bello vineyard in the cool Santa Cruz Mountains, only 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean. This vineyard produces fruit for the Estate Cabernet, which can be enjoyed slightly younger, as well as the famed Monte Bello wine itself.
The 2017 is a blend of 75% Cabernet, 21% Merlot along with a small amount of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Almost dark purple in the glass with pronounced aromas of cassis, blueberry, liquorice, and sweet American oak notes. The palate is big, rich and silky with touches of exotic spice and roasted coffee. Balanced with firm tannins and finishing with a long length.
94/100 - Antonio Galloni
When to drink: Can be drink now but has the quality to keep for a decade and beyond.
One of California's greatest estates, Ridge Vineyards sits 800m up in the Santa Cruz Mountains overlooking San Fransciso's Silicon Valley. Here is their Monte Bello vineyard which was first planted in the 1880s but which fell into disuse during the Prohibition period. It wasn't until the early 1960s when a group of academics from Stanford University who were passionate about wine bought the site and started to, once again, produce wines from here. Also during the '60s they started making wines from Geyserville about 100 miles further north in Sonoma County.
Possibly the most important event in Ridge's history was in 1969 when they hired a self taught winemaker, originally from Illinois, by the name of Paul Draper. Under his stewardship Ridge established themselves a worldwide reputation for both their Bordeaux based blends, mainly from Monte Bello, and peerless Zinfandels grown in their various Sonoma vineyards. Paul remained at the helm for several decades until, having reached the age of 80, retired from front line operations in 2016. Their success can largely be attributed to a natural, non-interventionist approach and a willingness to adapt their methods so as to best express the changing character of the vineyard and climate conditions from year to year. Their's is not a dogmatic attitude, but one aimed to make the best wines conditions allow. In 2021 John Olney was appointed head winemaker and COO at Ridge. He first started with the company in 1996 and working as part of Paul Draper's team for several years is steeped in the estate's values and looks well set to continue its success.