The Merry Meehan clan hosted their annual "Fall Fest" in "The Cleve" a few weekends ago, and there were more great wine bottles uncorked than I could even hope to try (remember, we never spit), so I made a point of being very particular as to what I tasted. To say that I've never met a Ridge wine that I didn't like would not be quite true; there has been the odd clunker here and there, but they've been pretty darned few and far between, and some of those have turned out to be better than I thought they'd be with a few years in the bottle. There were seven of Mr. Draper's gems opened on the first night of the festivities, and of course, I focused right in on those, and here're my snapshot impressions.
1992 Ridge Santa Cruz Mtns. Cabernet Sauvignon, 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 13.4% alc.: Deeply, darkly colored, and exuding “Draper perfume” with a note of cedar; rich fruit, with big cassis-black currant underscored with hints of earth, blueberry and of course, more of that signature character known as Draper perfume, although it’s more reserved on the palate. Still plenty of structure, depth, body and length here; really nice, and yet to peak.
1995 Ridge Monte Bello Santa Cruz Mtns., 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 10% Petite Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 12.5% alc.: My initial impression reads “big Cab character here, with a hint of Draper perfume,” but in fact, it’s one of only two Monte Bellos ever made that wasn’t a “legal” Cabernet Sauvignon. Though approachable, this needs time; it offers black currant, cassis and earth, with that distinctive “perfume” just peaking out here and there. Full bodied, with big structure and still some years from its peak. Mark Horvatich (who is always fun to taste Ridge with) says that Paul Draper calls this one of his favorite MBs, but it’s more about potential right now.
1987 Ridge Monte Bello Santa Cruz Mtns., 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 11.7% alc.: Cloudy dark garnet color, with cedar and Draper perfume on the nose; the pretty flavors echo, with a well-mannered core of black currant and cassis fruit and what Pam Gillikin describes as a note of iodine. Soft tannins, smooth texture, balanced acids and nice length all make for a lovely Mr. Ridge that’s in a really nice place right now.
1992 Ridge Napa Cabernet Franc York Creek, 77% Cabernet Franc, 18% Merlot, 14.1% alc.: Good, rich color, with black currant on the nose shaded with subtle Draper perfume. Rich, ripe fruit with earthy undertones and some herbaceousness; just gorgeous, and it blossoms to exude a very pretty perfume with just a little air.
1997 Ridge Lytton Estate Syrah ATP, 88% Syrah, 12% Viognier, 14.6% alc.: This glass of ink exudes a pretty Draper perfume that resembles a mélange of black and blue berries, turning darker on the palate with some added black plum. Rich, ripe and dense, but balanced, this likes some air (Mark H. said it was tight a few hours earlier), and a few more years in the cellar won’t hurt it at all.
1997 Ridge Napa Petite Sirah York Creek Dynamite Hill Vines ATP, 13.5% alc.: Good dark color, with a big black fruit nose that shows some attractive aromatics, even in what I would have expected to be its relative youth. Not quite as generous on the palate, nor as deep and rich as I would have expected, and slightly green, though not in a bad way. Not bad with air now, but I’m not sure this will ever be a “great” Petite Sirah. Or, maybe it just needs more time, like the next wine had the advantage of receiving.
1986 Ridge Napa Petite Sirah York Creek Devil’s Hill ATP, 12.9% alc.: Slightly cloudy dark garnet color, and showing the dark side of all that Draper perfume, with smoky black plum and berry that follow through very nicely on the palate. Mark H. commented that there are “a lot of good things in this; back then, Ridge had a lot of funk in their wines.” He has a point, because it’s so good, it deserves a second pour, and best of all, it’s still not at its peak.
- from Fall Fest~The Cleve~2008
Reporting from Day-twah,