Bottling Day Traditions: Another “Reisen” To Smile

Over the past few days, all of us here at RIDGE have had occasion to hear wonderful stories about Donn Reisen; each revealing again and again how Donn was consistently and uniquely able to, put simply, make people feel good. I’d like to share one particular such tale. Michael Riese, a current member of the Monte Bello Tasting Room Staff whose association with RIDGE goes back decades, shared this with me over the weekend (and that wasn’t all he shared!). Apparently, “back in the day” as it were, and as Michael tells it, Donn instigated a lovely tradition during bottling days; if you had a birthday that fell on a bottling day, you got your very own special bottle, pulled right off the line, and personally signed by Donn himself in delightful black block letters. In 1980, Michael celebrated a birthday on June 26th, and to honor his special day, Donn presented him with a bottle of 1978 York Creek Cabernet Sauvignon.

The day after RIDGE held a memorial for Donn here at Monte Bello, Michael brought this tremendously important bottle  with him to work, and out of the pure, kind, sweet, sentimental goodness of his heart, shared it with everyone on staff. This was a true gift to us, and a true extension of Donn’s original gift, and I am here to tell you the wine was delicious by any measure imaginable (tasting notes below the photo), and that nearly 30 years later, Donn is still making Michael, and all of us, feel good. Thank you Michael, for sharing this story and this wine with us, and thank you Donn for providing us with yet another “Reisen” to smile.


Ridge Vineyards 1978 York Creek Cabernet Sauvignon

Wonderfully intact coloration, with a belly rich in black cherry and plum hues, limned by a lovely and mature amber-auburn halo. Quite elegant legs in the bowl, exhibiting only medium-weight viscosity. A fascinatingly complex nose redolent of currant, licorice, hearty autumnal broth, and tar, laced with a hint of garden herbality. Brilliantly supple mouthfeel, yet showing very present acidity; the tannins are silkenly beautiful, and the the wine coats the full wide expanse of one’s palate. Emergent mid-palate are notes of dried fruit, dried herbs, with a touch of lightly browned toast, and a particularly notable and pleasant trace of umami savoriness. The finish is long, slow, and warm. Apologies for the deployment of such a trite cliche, but if ever there was a “fireplace wine,” this is it!

Categories: Cabernet Sauvignon, History, Tasting Notes, Wine Tales

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