Tasting Notes: Assessing Possible 2013 ATP Releases

ATP Contenders …

It’s a ritual I always look very forward to; the tastings in which we consider possible release schedules for upcoming ATP wines. Why? Because I really, really, really love our ATP program. Want proof? When I was first hired by Ridge, one of the very first things I did to celebrate was to enroll my Dad in the ATP program. Because I really, really, really love our ATP wines. And now, he does too! (Plus, I really, really, really love my Dad! And, my Mom too, but she’s not much of a wine drinker …)

Anyhow, the Fall edition of this ATP tasting experience is always particularly enjoyable, as it’s generally the tasting in which we conclude by putting forth our first draft of the following year’s ATP release calendar.

The Tasters (minus moi, behind the lens …)

What this means, is that we taste a short list of ATP wines (already in bottle, but not yet released), to ascertain a) how they’re developing in the bottle, b) how soon they’ll be ready to release, and c) where on the calendar they best belong.

A number of factors go into making the decisions, but they can be deconstructed down to a pair of key considerations: a) developmental trajectory, and b) seasonality; meaning, how are they aging, and what time of year are the wines best suited for?

Paul Draper, talking ATP …

The first matter is very important when you take into consideration our approach to the ATP program. These wines are all very small-production, single-vineyard wines, and as such, they are traditionally available only through Ridge; meaning, they are not distributed. Which means there is no distributor calendar to meet. Which means we can release them when we want to. Which means, essentially, that we release them only when we feel that they are beginning to move into the first stages of their early drinkability. Meaning, we do a bit of the cellar aging for you! Which is why assessing developmental trajectory is important; we need to feel confident about how a wine is presenting, before we confirm it for a release date.

Tasting Notes …

The second consideration is vitally intertwined with the first in an important fashion, in that, unlike with some of our comparatively larger-production distribution wines — which we generally recommend laying down for a period of time — we operate under the assumption that the ATP wines are likely to be consumed reasonably close to their release date (given the extent that we hold them in our cellars first), which means that seasonality becomes quite important; as but one example, we wouldn’t be likely to release a Petite Sirah in July any more than we’d be likely to release a Chardonnay in January! Though that said, there are always exceptions …

ATP, through the drinking glass …

Anyhow, our tasting was set for November 1st, with a roster of 7 wines to assess:

2007 Ridge Vineyards Dynamite Petite Sirah

2008 Ridge Vineyards Lytton Estate Syrah

2009 Ridge Vineyards Lytton Estate Syrah /Grenache

2009 Ridge Vineyards Mazzoni Home Ranch Zinfandel

2009 Ridge Vineyards Buchignani Zinfandel

2010 Ridge Vineyards Carmichael Zinfandel

2010 Ridge Vineyards Lytton Estate Zinfandel

And here are some brief tasting notes:

2009 Ridge Vineyards Buchignani Ranch Zinfandel

Aromatics:

Rich, slightly smoky, with a hint of sweetness, offset by a nicely subtle florality

Palate:

Bright, lifted, great acidity, medium bodyweight; compelling notes of persimmon, dried apple, and black cherry

Finish:

Taut & lean, showing a smoothening continuation of good acidity

2009 Ridge Vineyards Mazzoni Home Ranch Zinfandel

Aromatics:

Plummy, sweet, and concentrated, with hints of cocoa, caramel, and chocolate.

Palate:

A slight mentholation lifts the otherwise round, voluptuous, and decidedly zin-driven opulence; shows hints of almond extract, medium-sour cherry, and an overall decadence and unctuousness

Finish:

An emergent mix of black and white peppers invitingly complexilates the rich fruit

2010 Ridge Vineyards Carmichael Zinfandel

Aromatics:

Cedar and vanilla/caramel, reserved fruit, some great autumn spice, even a hint of 5-spice

Palate:

Very focused, quite muscular architecture, tannin-forward, with good acidity and dense mid-tone fruit

Finish:

Gentle, with mello acidity

2009 Ridge Vineyards Lytton Estate Syrah/Grenache

Aromatics:

Dried fruit, Italian Pannetone, sandalwood, lavender and lilac, blackberry and blueberry preserves

Palate:

Smooth, balanced, integrated; great mix of fruit and spice, on the edge of decadent, but perfectly put together

Finish:

Pretty intense attack on the finish; short and wide, and an excellently reconciled expression of the fruit and spice balance

2008 Ridge Vineyards Lytton Estate Syrah

Aromatics:

Loads of umami; savory to the nth; good ripe fruit with a deep black core redolent of blackberry, briar, and blueberry slump

Palate:

Nicely weighty, round, fully spread across the palate, with chalky tannins, and a touch of bright cherry

Finish:

Very tannin-forward, strong architecture, deep and intense, with nice notes of black pepper and cocoa powder

2010 Ridge Vineyards Lytton Estate Zinfandel

Aromatics:

Massive amounts of fruit on the nose; powerful, ripe, strong and muscular, with intense notes of blackberry preserves

Palate:

Fairly lifted, with higher-tone fruit; red apple skin, sour cherry, and cranberry, all mixed into a very rich rendition of Dry Creek briar and bramble

Finish:

An intense combination of tannin, acid, fruit, herb, spice, etc.; meaning, lots of everything, in copious amounts. A very intense wine

2007 Ridge Vineyards Dynamite Hill Petite Sirah

Aromatics:

Coffee, chicory, with an appealing duskiness comprised of, among other components, an air of burr-ground coffee beans

Palate:

Approachable, not too deep into the black, nice compendium of lo-tone fruit: black cherry and pluot in particular

Finish:

Good amount of acidity, very focused down the center of the palate, with a nice skin tannin presence lending an appealing mellowness



Categories: Carignane, Grenache, Lytton, Paul Draper, Petite Sirah, Rhone varietals, RIDGE Staff, Syrah, Tasting Flights, Tasting Notes, Varietals & Blends, Virtual Verticals, Wine Clubs, Zinfandel

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: