Zinfandel, Paso Robles, 1979 – Ridge

by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | July 1982

Talk about “state of the art” winemaking, and you talk about Ridge Vineyards. Furthermore, it is a ” Natural state of the art” winemaking. Since 1959, the style and quality of Ridge wines have been dictated by natural wine making practices and limited handling of the wine. Even though the password could be “let the wine be”, you tend to detect very preĀ­cise game plans when you listen to winemaker Paul Draper. The use of natural fermentive yeasts, the use of racking only as the tool for achieving clarity and stability is part of co-founder David Bennion’s philosophy. The winery was started in 1959, and is located in the Santa Cruz mountains on Monte Bello ridge near Cupertino. If anybody is a Zinfandel specialist, Ridge is. The Cabernets are not shabby either (see Cellarmaster Notes on page 1). That is all they make except for Petite Sirah in some years. They will make about 6 different Zinfandels each year, 3 Cabernets or so, all having specific vineyard and region appellations. A study in itself. They own some of their own vineyards, but also purchase grapes from select growers to achieve this diversity. Few California wineries can match this record. If you want to study Zinfandels, start with Ridge.

It was only in 1967 that the origin of the Zinfandel grape was identified. In southeastern Italy a blending wine is made from a similar grape, and in the village of Bari a distinct red wine similar to our better Zinfandels is currently produced. A grape in nearby Yugoslavia and Hungary also shows similar characteristics. Serious attention to this grape has produced amazing wines in California. Distinction is being achieved in the bold style, unique fruity character, and powerful bouquet this grape delivers.

This Ridge Paso Robles Zinfandel is deep ruby red in color. It has a fragrant berry fruit aroma that is very penetrating. It has a full body, a fruity taste, with a middle that is balanced for sugar and acid. The finish however shows dominant tannin. The taste lingers on and on as Zinfandel. Serve with pasta or robust meat dishes, stews.

Cellaring Notes: Will age well for 5 to 8 years, becoming mellow and complex.

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