Ridge Zinfandel East Bench 2007

There’s a state historic park here in California that covers an old town by the name of Columbia. It’s up in gold rush country a couple hours east of San Francisco, up in the foothills where prospectors first struck gold right around the middle of the 18th century. One of the things I most remember about Columbia – other than having first drunk sherry there long before it was legal for me to have done so – was Nelson’s Columbia Candy Kitchen, which was undeniably awesome when I was a wee pup. As I remember it – and this may well have nothing to do with the place as it actually exists – it was a large, cavernous place with wooden floors and a heavy smell in the air of sweet things: candy apples, candy buttons, horehound, taffy, oddball things you don’t see much these days. It smelled of grandmotherly hard candies, of cherries there only to hind the medicine hiding behind the surface. It smelled of abandoned paperboard suitcases, starched shirt collars, and residue scraped off of antimacassars. In short, it smelled… adult.Similarly, this Ridge wine crosses over from simple cherry-candy over to liniment and unguents only to pause for a second and then head right back over to bright cherry-berry fruit. There’s just a hint of a fresh-coconut note there as well, injecting humor into it all; this could pass for a Trader Vic’s concoction even though I doubt it’d taste better in a Tiki mug.It’s a beautiful deep-black crimson; again, it looks like something of another time, less like wine than tonic. There’s also a mesmerizing note of Christmas pudding, of dates and brandy and spice. One sip, though, and you’re transported into something far more outrĂ© than imagined: this wine is frickin’ huge, simultaneously fruity, bracing, lush, and yet strangely well within balance, relatively high alcohol and extract notwithstanding. Definitely porty to an extent, the wine drinks relatively straightforwardly until the finish, which is something like prune salt-water taffy (think richly fruited and yet not as sweet as it smells) and lasts for what seems nearly an eternity. All the while, there’s enough tannin here to ground it ever so lightly; at times, it seems like the acidity’s just a wee bit out of balance but that’s a minor quibble. This wine succeeds where so many others fail: it’s rich, complex, affordable, and also very much typical of a place (in this case, the Dry Creek Valley). Yes, California is well known for Napa cabernet sauvignon, but it’s wines like this that I think are our real strength: there are plenty of places that grow good cabernet, but only a handful where Zinfandel shines so beautifully as it does here.Ridge
Price: $30
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

One thought on “Ridge Zinfandel East Bench 2007

  1. Ridge’s winemaker, Paul Draper, is a winemaking hero for me. Your description of this wine makes me believe that Mr. Draper, winemaker emeritus, had a hand in it’s making. When California Zinfandels were being produced in heavy octane, extremely extracted styles, Mr. Draper offered wines of restraint and complexity. His are wines that make an intelligent person think.

    Best regards,

    Don

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