It took the monks centuries to figure out how to make great wine in Burgundy and the Mosel. Somehow, at California’s Ridge Vineyards, they figured it out in just a few years. While fashions have come and gone, Ridge has stood fast for over 50 years, working their incredible vineyards with care and making true American masterpieces.
July 4 is as good excuse as any to open a good bottle of Zinfandel, but no excuse is really required. Zinfandel has been maligned in some crowds, but only because too many producers have made overripe, high-alcohol versions that taste more like a coca cola–based cocktail than fine wine. Ridge never succumbed to that unfortunate trend, and they continue to make true representations of the grape: rich but balanced wines with both black and red fruits, and a healthy element of spice. The best wines, like the single vineyards offered below, belong in the same class as Châteauneuf-du-Pape: big wines that nevertheless clearly express their terroir.
As famous as they are for their Zins, Ridge’s most collectible wine is the Monte Bello Cabernet, from the cool, limestone-rich vineyard of the same name high in the Santa Cruz mountains. It’s one of the world’s great wines, complex and super-ageworthy—extraordinary, though not necessarily the wine for a July 4th cookout. But Ridge makes other wines from Monte Bello that would be perfect.
The Monte Bello Chardonnay and the Estate Merlot—both from Monte Bello fruit—are more accessible when young, but still clear wines of terroir. What more could you ask for on July 4th?
Ridge, Chardonnay “Monte Bello”, 2013 One of California’s great wines, it’s an absolute steal. California fruit with an old-world feel. It’s delicious now, but if you lay it down you’re in for a real treat: it matures into something truly spectacular.