New Fall Releases: Staff Tasting -or- The Sneak Peak Of The Week! -or- Monte Bello For A Thirsty Fello, Lytton Springs And The Joy That Sings, Pagani Ranch As The Olive Branch, And York Creek, Of Thy Beauty I Speak!

So, myself and a delightful cross-section of esteemed Ridge staff members sat down yesterday to have a tasting of the new Fall Releases, as well as the upcoming September ATP offering. Below, you’ll find photos of the tasting, with my tasting notes to follow. And remember, Fall Release Weekend is the first weekend of September, both here at Monte Bello and at Lytton Springs as well; this will be your chance to dive in and sample the new Monte Bellos (both the Chardonnay and our Cabernet Sauvignon-based blend), and the new Lytton Springs, Pagani Ranch, and York Creek! For more about the Fall Release Weekend, click here, and please view and read onwards to learn more about our tasting of these soon-to-be-released wines.


Tasting Notes: 2009 Fall Releases (plus September ATP), Staff Tasting, 8.13.09


2006 Monte Bello Chardonnay

A pale golden-yello in the glass, fantastic limpidity, and fairly sparse and slow-moving legs … The nose is redolent of caramel and a light woodiness at a slightly chilled temperature, and as it moves towards room temperature it begins to express a complex array of fruit notes, with lychee, pineapple, and honeydew melon leading the way. A constrained amount of minerality shows through as well, with little influence from any yeast aromas. The first thing I notice is the wildly buoyant acidity, balanced against a surprisingly supple viscosity. Pear and green apple notes are front and center, with a faint trace of (probably imaginary!) residual malic acid. During the movement from mid-palate to finish, notes of meringue (cream of tartar) start to emerge, making for a pleasantly structured close.


2006 Nervo

Shows beautiful mid-tone plum/ruby in the bowl, with a gorgeous pink & raspberry limn, lightly tinged with a pale orange; quick, thin legs running down the sides … Fantastically fascinating nose, with a whole menagerie of aromatic offerings: loads of black pepper, cocoa, clove, cinnamon, baked orange/marmalade, sandalwood, a slight tarriness, and hints of both cola syrup and berry syrup … Fairly firm tannins on the palate, but good acidity as well … a certain spiciness definitely present, though the herbal components are far more dominant. Structurally, the tannin/acid balance is near perfect, but the herb &spice/fruit balance is currently tipping to the former. Not a particularly fruit-forward offering, but perfect for those who prefer their zins with a hearty offering of herbs and spices.


2007 Lytton Springs

Elegance. Subtlety. Suppleness. Grace. These are the terms that come to mind in trying to capture the sophistication and near-shyness of this otherworldly uber-balanced wine. Everything about this wine is restrained, and beautiful. The aromatics are loaded with mixed harvest berry notes, as is the palate, and both are richly intertwined with a complex quilt of lilac, lavender, and violet. A secondary tier of higher-tone red fruit makes itself felt in the mid-palate, bringing in strains of strawberry and cherry, and the finish expresses some nicely chalky, and very-slow moving tannins. Again, elegance, subtlety, suppleness, and grace. Consummately approachable already.


2007 Pagani Ranch

Beautiful magenta tones dominate the color spectrum in the bowl, with some dark plum in the very belly, and some beautiful, pale, bright garnet highlights at the limn. As is seemingly always the case with wines from the Pagani Ranch, the aromatics are a veritable potpourri of, well, potpourri! Add to that strains of cinnamon, strawberry, and the sweet spices of hookah tobacco, and you’ve got a Pagani bouquet. The palate springs a trap full of rich, sweet fruits, almost on the edge of showing some candied character, though this is all firmly counterbalanced by some strident acidity. Certainly still in development, but this wine has both the structure and the fruit to emerge into yet another fascinating contribution to the Pagani canon.


2007 York Creek

It was put forth, during the tasting, that this wine is what the color blue tastes like. I most certainly agree! Blue fruit, blue highlights, blue halo, blue, blue, blue. Which is clearly the influence of the full 22% petit sirah on this wine, a welcome addition, at least to our collective palates, all being petit sirah fans, to say the least. This is a dark, rich, complex wine; burnt blueberry pie sugar, beurre noir, blueberry preserves, sweet black licorice, asphalt, sweet moist pipe tobacco, cigar box, I could go on and on and on, but I imagine you’re getting the picture. If you’re a fan of zinfandel as darkened and molded by petite sirah, this is for you.


2006 Monte Bello

I’ll come right out and say it; I love this wine. I bought in hard on the futures for this vintage, if that’s any kind of worthwhile endorsement. And tasting it again today, I’m happy I did so. I believe this is going to be a Monte Bello for the ages, one of the greats. Of course it’s impossibly young now; the colors are almost impenetrably dark, the limn barely exists yet, the viscosity is intensely adhesive, etc. Interestingly though, the nose is already showing some beautiful florality (lilac and lavender in particular), married to some beautiful herbaceousness. The palate experience is driven primarily by clove, anise, fennel, and hazelnut, with a shake of cocoa powder and vanilla extract, and the finish, while admittedly still  youthfully short at this point, already shows great balance. Can’t wait for the development trajectory of this vintage to play out over some time …

Categories: Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Events & Photographs, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, RIDGE Staff, Tasting Notes, Viticultural Salmagundi, Wine Tales, Zinfandel

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