Monday, January 23, 2023

Ridge Estate Chardonnay 2020

Ridge Estate Chardonnay Ideally Paired with Chicken Breast stuff with spinach and feta cheese

Linda prepared a hearty chicken breast stuffed with spinach and feta cheese over a bed of asparagus and mashed potatoes. The cheese took over the whole dish for a delicious wintry comfort food entree that begged for a full robust white wine. I pulled from the cellar this recent vintage premium Chardonnay from iconic producer Ridge. 

While I might normally select an older vintage to cycle our holdings as part of cellar management, and the pundits write that this should age well for 7-8 years and that this label often benefits from a few years of aging, I was eager to try this label from a lot that I just picked up recently.

Since 1962, Ridge has produced small bottlings of chardonnay that reflect the cool climate and limestone subsoils of the heralded Monte Bello Estate, high atop the Santa Cruz Mountains, on the eastern facing slopes, of the Santa Cruz Range that separates San Francisco Bay and Silicon Valley to the east, from the Pacific Coast to the west. 

The Santa Cruz range is also known for its alignment along the famous San Andreas fault, which can be easily identified from the air, and runs along the beautiful scenic I280, high above Silicon Valley, between San Jose and San Francisco. 

This is especially favored since we used to live up against the mountain, below but near where the vineyard sits, in tony Saratoga (CA) when we were in Silicon Valley long ago, early in my tech career.

From their website, "Ridge produced its first chardonnay in 1962 from fully-mature vines planted in the late 1940s on the Monte Bello Estate vineyard. Production never exceeded ten barrels, and Monte Bello Chardonnay was sold principally at the winery. Several great vintages, among them the 1973, ‘74, ‘79, and ‘84, showed that the cool climate and fractured limestone sub-soils were well suited to the varietal.'

"By 1985, the old vines were producing less then a half-ton per acre and were taken out. The younger vines, planted in the ‘70s, provide the majority of grapes today. Initially these newer plantings were on the “lower” vineyard—not yet farmed as part of the Monte Bello estate—so the wine was called “Santa Cruz Mountains” and these vines have long since been included. Since 2009 the wine has been designated Ridge Estate Chardonnay. In years when differences among lots are sufficient to warrant a separate bottling, they make a limited amount of Monte Bello Chardonnay as well."

The Monte Bello Estate vineyard is much heralded and historically renowned, best known perhaps for Ridge's flagship, "Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon", which we've had over the years, but, we've also had the vineyard designated Merlot from there as well, and now this Chardonnay. 

Ridge Estate Santa Cruz Mountain (AVA) Monte Bello Vineyard Chardonnay 2020

As is so often the case, we were fortunate enough to enjoy this ideal pairing that amplified the enjoyment of both the food and the wine!

This is 100% Chardonnay sourced solely from the legendary Ridge Monte Bello Estate vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains Appellation (AVA).

It was highly rated receiving a consensus 94 Points from Wine Spectator,  Wine Enthusiast, Jeb Dunnuck, and Owen Bargreen,

Fine Wine Review wrote: "I might mistake it for a Corton-Charlemagne."

Light straw colored, medium bodied, bold, full and round yet impeccably smooth and what Jeb Dunnuck decribes as "brilliantly balanced", elegant, buttery with layer of ash notes that Wine Enthusiast describes as "flinty aroma to the nose, like smoke from chiseled granite", crushed stone that permeates the subtle flavors of peach and apple with hints of toasted spice and what Wine Spectator calls "overtones of salted butterscotch" on an abrupt, crisp, clean finish with nice well behaved acidity.

RM 92 points.