Ridge Zinfandel Stone Ranch 2004

Rich and dusty, there’s also the suggestion of medicine here, medicine that’s hiding something darker underneath an allegedly friendly façade. To me, it’s suggestive of dusty, decaying leather and no longer fashionable roses, a perfume that’s not friendly enough to sell well at Target. But that’s fine by me; a famous Frenchman once said that a perfume should smell of a woman who neglects herself, and this wine is heading in that same direction. It’s the smell of a wine that doesn’t particularly care what you think – kind of punk rock, I suppose.Deeply purple, youthful, and unapologetically alcoholic (if the jambes are to go by), it begins to give it up for fruitiness after a few minutes’ worth of exposure to air. Still, the fruity jam is nicely framed by that savory, dusty edge of dirt and restraint.Brighter than you’d expect in the mouth, what you get is a very floral, bright wine with hints of an aged character. In fact, it almost seems like there’s a skosh of volatile acidity lurking here; it just seems to… well, perky. It’s all moderately good… and yet it seems like there’s something every so slightly out of balance here. Even so, the character of the wine sneaks to the foreground from time to time, with a dusty, frankly kind of generically Zin-ny characteristic that’s good enough… almost. I’d be lying if I said I weren’t disappointed by this; all of the elements of a good Ridge zinfandel appear to be here; the problem is that they aren’t coherent, interrupted as they are by that acidic brightness and the odd sharpness of the wine. If I have anything particularly nice to say about this wine, it’s probably simply that it’s relatively inexpensive for a Ridge.Tannins, by the way, seemed missing in action for me, but my friend Mark says “wow, it’s all chunky tannins!” It could be simply that my taste buds have gone walkabout for the evening!Update: Ten minutes on, it’s warmed up a bit from the cellar, and now it’s going a sort of cassia bark path, devolving into a sort of vanillin spice box character. Interesting.Ridge
Price: $24
Closure: Cork

3 thoughts on “Ridge Zinfandel Stone Ranch 2004

  1. Great line about Perfume Chris, where is that from? As far as punks not caring what others think, its more that we say what we want and be damned with the response. We can be very sensitive you know 😉

    Had a 2005 Ridge Geyersville (spelling?) as my introduction to US Zinfs late last year. It came at the end of the evening and was not the characature I’d read so many US Zins as being. I liked it a lot. Where do Ridge sit in terms of esteem, if I may ask?

  2. The line about perfume is from The Emperor of Scent by Chandler Burr; it’s attributed to Guy Robert, and you can read the relevant excerpt here.

    Ridge Geyserville is one of their two têtes du cuvée, the other being Lytton Springs. Both are mostly (but not entirely) Zinfandel; both are (to me, at least) traditional California claret (if such a thing exists at all!).

    Where do they sit in terms of esteem? Hard to say. Paul Draper, the winemaker (although it seems like he’s slowly retiring these days) is without a doubt one of the great men of California wine, and yet Ridge is often forgotten. Sure, they may have trounced the competition at the re-match of the Judgment of Paris a couple of years ago, but they’re not in Napa Valley, which means they sit outside the mainstream of California wine (they’re just up the hill from Apple Computer in Cupertino, believe it or not). They’ve been quietly doing their thing for decades and don’t do things the ways most others do, preferring instead to label wines according to place, use American oak instead of French, use native yeasts, and so on.

    In short, they’re highly esteemed amongst most wine geeks, not so much amongst middle class wine drinkers who’d probably sooner spend their money on Silver Oak or Far Niente. 🙂

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