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The Official Wine Thread - Page 1335

post #20011 of 20944
Ridge Vineyard's Paul Draper is retiring. In my opinion Montebello is the best wine made in North America. I can think of no other wine made as long, by the same winemaker, from the same vineyard, with such a track record for aging. Montelena is the only other that comes close. This is the end of an era.

Cupertino, CA – 80 years – It seems a most celebratory age to step back. We have two of the finest winemakers and one of the most exceptional vineyard directors, who have each been with me for more than twenty years. Though I have done all major tasting with Eric Baugher, John Olney and David Gates, the wines of the last ten years are theirs, not mine, so you already know the quality and style of the vintages to come.

I grew up on an eighty-acre farm west of Chicago. After attending the Choate School and receiving a degree in philosophy from Stanford University, I lived for two and a half years in northern Italy, putting in the military service still required by the draft. Fortunately after attending Monterey Language School I was assigned to work as a civilian in liaison in the Veneto. I went on to attend the University of Paris and traveled extensively in France. With my good friend, Fritz Maytag, I re-opened a historic bodega on the southern coast range of Chile. We made three vintages of old vine, non-irrigated cabernet from several single vineyards before returning to California in early 1969.

Dave Bennion, Charlie Rosen, and Hew Crane, the three scientists from Stanford Research Institute (SRI) who had reopened the old Monte Bello Winery as Ridge Vineyards in 1962 had heard me speak about Chile and our traditional methods. What I described fit with what they were doing and their idea that wine was something “real” and a perfect corrective to the “virtual” world that they were pioneering in their work at SRI. In offering me the job of winemaker they had me taste the ’62 and ’64 Monte Bellos made from cabernet replanted in the 1940’s at Monte Bello. They had never made wine before and had simply picked the grapes on a Saturday, crushed them to a small fermentor adding no yeast and went back to their jobs. They had placed a grid to submerge the grapes and came back the next weekend to find them fermenting nicely. A week later the wine was dry and they pressed the grapes, adding back the press wine and a minimum of SO2.

The wine went through a full, natural secondary fermentation and what I tasted with them six years later were the finest, most complex California wines I had ever had, including the best known wines of the 40’s and 50’s. They had simply not gotten in the way. It was clear they had an exceptional site and I knew if I joined them I would have the chance to make some very fine wine.

My hope is that our focus on the preindustrial techniques that had made the finest wines of Europe from the early 19th century to the early 1960’s and in California from the 1890’s until 1920 and again in the late 30’s has been a contribution to the California wine industry. It certainly has led to great success for Ridge. We were the first of the small, fine California producers to sell a significant part of production on the East Coast of the United States as well as export wine to Europe in the early ‘70’s. We exported the 1971 Monte Bello to both the UK and France and today export to over 40 countries.

In the early 70’s the quality of the wines being made from the Monte Bello vineyard caught the attention of Stephen Spurrier who included the 1971 Monte Bello in the now famous Paris tasting of 1976. In the thirty year repeat organized in London and California by Spurrier with the original wines, the 1971 Monte Bello came in first by 18 points over the second place wine. We might have been satisfied with producing a Monte Bello that could often match the best of Bordeaux, and given our more favorable climate, make more consistently fine wines. However, discovering the quality of traditionally made old vine zinfandel convinced me to focus as well on the handling of the zinfandel grapes and wine with the care that had been reserved until then for cabernet.

From the mid ‘60’s on we had sought out old vine zinfandel that had the potential to produce wines of complexity and distinct character. We went on to pioneer zinfandel as fine wine. Our aspirations were helped along when Jancis Robinson in her 1989 book “Vintage Timecharts” chose the Geyserville vineyard as well as the Monte Bello vineyard for her selection of the seventy finest vineyards of the world. We were working with a grape that nowhere in the world was used to make fine wine so the match of site, varietal and the quality of the winemaking were essential.

For being around so long and staying true to our traditional approach I’ve received several awards including joining Robert Mondavi and André Tchelistcheff as the only Americans honored as the Decanter Man of the Year. In addition the Wine Spectator’s Distinguished Service Award, and the “Winemakers’ Winemaker Award” from the Institute of Masters of Wine —an award voted on by the winemakers who are also Masters of Wine. I have been a long-time member of the Académie Internationale du Vin as well.

I feel I am passing on our vineyards and estate to members of my own family. I have had a great life pursuing my craft, my calling, for fifty years—three in Chile and forty-seven at Ridge. Although I am retiring, I will continue in my role as Chairman of the Board. In this capacity I can fully support this long planned transition.
post #20012 of 20944
Bedrock/Michael Havens collaboration

post #20013 of 20944
post #20014 of 20944
Wine dinner with a new mentor. I've got some learning to do where Burgundy is concerned.

This is what we had tonight - plus an epic Sauternes.

2 2008 whites

And 2 2007 reds

And by "this is what we had," I mean some of the best producers, period. Extremely focused wines. This is going to be an interesting journey if I get out alive and financially solvent.
Edited by Girardian - 7/1/16 at 12:10am
post #20015 of 20944
Originally Posted by erictheobscure View Post

Modest but happiness inducing haul from Silverlake Wine, CA

I've had both the rose and the white Ameztoi over the last week. Both are so, so good.
post #20016 of 20944
^ It's been a while since I had the white since I love the rosé so much. The only problem is that it's so damned drinkable, half the bottle is gone a second after I open it.
post #20017 of 20944
firesale at Zachy's, huge haul
post #20018 of 20944
Quite envious of the Coche. The few times I've had it, it's blown me away every time.
post #20019 of 20944

Great copper color, much more mellow than the regular rose with a long finish. Better when it warms up and looses its effervescence.
post #20020 of 20944
^^^ had some of that last Dec, it was smokin'
post #20021 of 20944
Originally Posted by erictheobscure View Post

^ It's been a while since I had the white since I love the rosé so much. The only problem is that it's so damned drinkable, half the bottle is gone a second after I open it.

The white is more than a little like the rose. It also disappears so fast that I suspect the winery isn't really using 750 ml bottles.
post #20022 of 20944
One of the wines we had last night was a 2001 Muga Gran Reserva Rioja. Probably not going to get any better and it's drinking very well right now.
post #20023 of 20944
Has anyone done the WSET tests at all? I'm debating doing WSET 2, but I don't know if it's worth the money compared to CSW or CMS. There's also a tea certification I want to do on the same day, as well as a sake one and trying to decide between the three is proving impossible.
post #20024 of 20944
Originally Posted by untilted View Post

im a wine newbie.

i like this a lot:

also liked this:

Trust me. You're not alone.

post #20025 of 20944
Originally Posted by Piobaire View Post

One of the wines we had last night was a 2001 Muga Gran Reserva Rioja. Probably not going to get any better and it's drinking very well right now.

They must have made a billion cases of this vintage. I keep seeing it.
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