Announcing the 2012 Ridge Vineyards Wine of the Year!

I cannot help myself; I’m in the Year-End-List spirit. I MUST make my Best-Ofs …

And for today’s canonically contributive endeavour, I am going to grapple into submission a task never yet set; I am going to attempt to name my Top Five Favorite Ridge Releases of the Year, and then from that, name My Number One Best New Ridge Wine Release of 2012!

Some things to consider:

–Flavor? Put simply, which wine tasted the best?

–Impact? Which release generated the most excitement/activity/buzz? Reviews, Sales, etc.

–The Most Improved Factor? Which wine ran against predictions, and emerged as an unexpected player?

–The Shock and Awe? Which wine just flat-out strafed the viticultural landscape with its awesome power?

–The Surprise? Which wine came seemingly out of nowhere to wow us all?

–Price Break to Quality vs. Overall Dynomiteness? Do you pick the best PBTQ offering, or simply the “best” wine? And are they in fact one and the same?

–Scale? Do  you vote in favor of cross-platform pleasingness, or niche-anchored exceptionalism?

And so forth and so on.

It is also very important to consider context; meaning, given that each wine has its own self-actualizing, self-realizing, self-completing parameters within which it can be judged, one has to find a way to balance contextual success vs. global success. 

For example, how do you handle/reconcile/balance the following: Monte Bello vs. Itself, and Geyserville vs. Itself,  versus Monte Bello vs. Geyserville?

Put another way, is it fair to compare apples and oranges? Do you compare apples only to other apples, and oranges only to other oranges? Or do you simply name the best fruit of all?

For example, the 2009 Monte Bello received 97 points from the International Wine Report, the Lytton Springs received 93 points. So which is the better wine?

And so forth and so on.

So, to begin, let’s first look at what was released in 2012:

  • 2009 Monte Bello
  • 2009 Estate Cabernet
  • 2009 Estate Merlot
  • 2010 Estate Chardonnay
  • 2010 Three Valleys
  • 2010 Lytton Estate Petite Sirah
  • 2010 Geyserville
  • 2010 Lytton Springs
  • 2010 Paso Robles Zinfandel
  • 2010 East Bench Zinfandel
  • 2010 Pagani Ranch Zinfandel
  • 2010 Ponzo Zinfandel
  • 2009 Jimsomare Zinfandel
  • 2006 Lytton Estate Grenache
  • 2009 Old School Zinfandel
  • 2007 Lytton Estate Syrah
  • 2009 Carmichael Zinfandel
  • 2010 Buchignani Ranch Carignane
  • 2009 Lytton Estate Zinfandel
  • 2008 Mazzoni Home Ranch Zinfandel
  • 2008 Lytton Estate Syrah/Grenache
  • 2010 Dusi Ranch Zinfandel

Ok, wow. That’s a lot of wine. 22 wines. Yikes. But that’s ok. I can do this.

But before I do this, let me announce unequivocally that there ain’t a dud in the bunch. That may sound like I’m playing it safe, and/or offering the party line. But it’s actually true. This was a VERY good year for our wine releases. So just because a wine doesn’t make my Top 5, doesn’t mean it ain’t groovy. It is.

But the algorithm is a complex one, and it incorporates many, many, many factors.

The algorithm. Formula 4488.


 I’ve fed all the information in. All the customer compliments, all the point scores, all the sales histories, all the tasting notes, literally ALL the relevant data. Into the 4488 algorithm machine (see above). And the machine has churned, and smoked, and labored, and cycled, and processed, and processed, and processed. All the hanging chads have been un-hung, all the handwriting has been analyzed, all the recounts have been recounted. And the first results are in. What follows are my Top Five Ridge Wine Releases of 2012! In no particular order:

  • 2010 Lytton Springs Zinfandel
  • 2010 Paso Robles Zinfandel
  • 2010 Buchignani Ranch Carignane
  • 2009 Monte Bello
  • 2009 Estate Cabernet

There. It is written.

And of course, as soon as it is written, I have regrets. How could I have left off …?

But alas, one must narrow down. The Best Ofs are calling.

So these are it. The Five.

There are many, many, many things to recommend each of these selections. The astonishing price-break-to-quality performance of the Estate Cabernet. The ratings and reviews frenzy around the 2009 Monte Bello. The cult fascination with the Carignane. The sleeper success of the Paso Robles. The canon re-defining 2010 Lytton Springs. They’re all exceptional wines.

But in the end, by the totally arbitrary standards of the Best Ofs and the Top Fives, there can only be one. One wine that stands above the rest as The 2012 Ridge Wine Release Of The Year.

The 2012 Ridge Wine Release Of The Year is …

Drum roll

The 2010 Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs!

Put simply, this is an amazing offering, and it hits on every single cylinder possible. Consider the factors we looked at above:

–Flavor? This wine tastes flat-out incredible. It’s beautiful and complex and fun and sensual and inviting and delicious and delicious.

–Impact? One of the best-selling vintages of Lytton Springs ever, and certainly one of the best reviewed as well.

–The Most Improved Factor? Admittedly, this is a canon that’s hard to improve on — Lytton Springs has been a tremendous wine for decades — but it’s certain the 2010 will go down as one of the truly great vintages.

–The Shock and Awe? The Lytton Springs was a force. No question about it. It was omnipresent. Ubiquitous.

–The Surprise? As anyone who follows Northern California viticulture knows, 2010 was a DIFFICULT vintage. That this wine should be so good under these circumstances is all the more impressive.

–Price Break to Quality vs. Overall Dynomiteness? Do you pick the best PBTQ offering, or simply the “best” wine? And are they in fact one and the same? In this case, they’re one and the same.

–Scale? While the Lytton Springs is one of our largest productions, it still seems at times to be the red-haired stepchild to the Geyserville, and as such, this wine manages to achieve worldwide appeal while still appealing to the culties.

In short, this is a hell of a wine.

And with that I say, congratulations to all our releases! Together, they have made for a tremendous 2012’s worth of wines.

And then I say, congratulations to our Top Five Wines of 2012. You are truly wondrous things.

And finally I say, congratulations to the First Annual “4488: A Ridge Blog” Ridge Wine Release of the Year, the 2010 Lytton Springs!

You may take your place in the canon.

Categories: Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignane, Geyserville, History, Lytton Springs, Monte Bello, Press Reviews, Rhone varietals, Tasting Notes, Varietals & Blends, Viticultural Salmagundi, Wine Quotes, Wine Tales, Zinfandel

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