Writers Note: Monday began my 5th adventure to California wine country, This trip is special as it my first since early in 2008. So much has happened for me since then including being hired by The Vindicator as their Wine and Beer Columnist, the founding anf growth of Valley Vino Wine Club and my hiring as Wine Director for Avalon Golf and Country Club.
I have always said that the first trip I took to Napa / Sonoma in January of 2005 changed my life. Traveling from Santa Cruz to Napa today reaffrimed what I remembered from that great first experience. If you love wine and food, there is simply no where better to go in your own country than northern California.
I began this great adventure yesterday by visiting Ridge Vineyards legendary Montebello Winery. Ridge is my favorite winery in the world. Their commitment to quality and the artistry with which they produce their wines is unsuprassed in California and most of the world.
Here's a look at some of the wines we tasted during our time there:
1. 2010 Estate Bottled Chardonnay
Incredibly bright and exprssive with fresh orchard and subtle tropical fruits. The French Oak aging is subtle and doesn't allow the cream and vanilla to overhwlemthe fruit, but instead it complements those flavors and achieves remarkable balance.
2. 2011 Sonoma Three Valleys Zinfandel
I have reviewed this wondeful wine serveral times in this blog over the last three years. This is Ridge's largest production wine with three vineyards sourced from around Sonoma Country. Great fruit and moderate spice with a lengthy finish for a wine at this price point.
3. 2010 Geyserville
Those who know me well know that this is my favorite Ridge wine. A deep and thoughtful blend of primarly Zinfandel that brings red cherry, berries and hints of bittersweet cocoa and smoke. Elegant and thoughtful with depth and character that will only continue to develo with aging.
4. 2011 Estate Merlot
For all you wine snobs out there that refuse to drinj Merlot, I dare you to try one of these beauties. This is a Bordeaux stylre Melor with all the elegance and delicacy you would expect from France. The fruit is concentrated and persistent with moderate tannis and an extensive finish.
5. 2010 Montebello
Consistently on of the highest quality wines made in ther worls each year. While this beauty will only improve with 10 to 20 yeards aging, it is apporaichable now and really hints at the greatness to come with patience thorugh the aging process. The blend is magnificent with all components working in harmony.
Stay tuned to the Drinks blog for live blogging from some of California's top wine destinations, including tomorrow from 2-2:30 live at Rombauer Vineyards. I will feature several other live blogs over the next few days, so stay tuned to www.vindy.com/valleyfood for all the fun and adventure.