Santa Cruz Mountains / $35
"You need to get to know your local wine merchant." Does this sound familiar? I have been preaching this theme for years now to anyone that would listen. When you finish reading this review....you will understand why.
Whenever I discuss Ridge Chardonnay with my wine cronies, the first thing they say is "Ridge makes a Chardonnay?" The answer is yes, they have been producing a quality Chardonnay for years. Why haven't we ever heard about it?
Probably because it is snapped up so fast it never gets much exposure on the shelf.
Last spring, I went to my local wine shop to pick up some wine that I ordered. Doug Rosen, the owner of Arrowine asked me if I ever had the Ridge Chardonnay. I told him I had not, and he told me I had to try some. I clearly explained that I was a Chardonnay snob. My likes in chardonnays were limited to Kistler, Pahlmeyer and Kongsgaard; all of these wines over $75 a bottle if you can find them. He was not daunted by my response, and said,"You have got to buy some Ridge."
He had the Ridge coming in the following day. I asked how much I should buy...and he recommended two cases. I clearly must have looked at him as if he were crazy. He said to buy it, and if I was not thrilled with the wine...he would take every bottle back. Let's now talk about the wine.
It pours a golden yellow and is intensely aromatic. Perfume of white flowers, honeysuckle, quince and pear get your attention immediately. As you swirl, the fruit comes forward with pineapple and melon....beautiful nose.
The wine is full and lush in the mouth. Great Pear and fig flavors on the front with toast and mineral rounding out a buttery finish. Brioche toast is a great description. This wine has an incredibly long finish. It is reminiscent of a mature French Montrachet. Incredible.
Unlike many American Chardonnay, this one will age. You can be comfortable laying some of this down to evolve, although I cannot imagine you will want to. It is too delicious now.
So, to finish my story.......I asked Doug what this wine was rated to try to get a handle on what it was like, and whether I should pull the trigger and buy the two cases. He said that as far as he knew it was not yet rated. But, he suspected it would be 90+ points, and would be impossible to find once a good rating came out. Sounded fair, so I bought the two cases.
Since I took Doug's advice, the Ridge has won all sorts of awards. It was rated as Wine Spectator's #2 wine of the year, and awarded 95 points. Needless to say, it was impossible to find once these high scores and accolades were published.
The best news of all? The wine was only $35. Comparably priced Chardonnay is $75 or more. Kongsgaard lists for almost $300 a bottle.....I did not pay much more then that for a whole case of the Ridge.
The moral of the story is "Get to know your local wine merchant". Although this wine for 2005 is no longer available, they may be able to save you a bit of the 2006 which should be released soon. Don't miss it!
Doug Rosen of Arrowine would love to be your local wine merchant. Tell him Gerry sent you!
April 3, 2008
Santa Cruz Mountains / $35