Ridge East Bench Zinfandel 2007
8% Petite Sirah. Here is marvelous proof that high ripeness and fine balance need not be mutually exclusive, for while the wine checks in at 15.4% alcohol, it is as deep in defined fruit and as carefully structured as any Zinfandel in this month's survey. It is simply brimming with berries from the first, and, while fully ripe, it is not in the least bit overdone. It is laced with briary spice and complementary oak, and its long, tannin-firmed finish is as well-focused on outgoing fruit as its intense, deep and handsomely crafted aromas. As impressive as it may be at the moment, it will only get better with time, and the best prescription is for a few years of patience.
This was my first look at a new offering from Ridge, the 2007 Zinfandel East Bench. From a young Dry Creek Valley vineyard, it is a blend of 92% Zinfandel and 8% Petite Sirah (15.4% alcohol). Its big, open-knit bouquet of briery black raspberries and black cherries is followed by a fleshy, medium to full-bodied wine revealing good freshness as well as a savory, up-front style. I would opt for drinking this offering over the next 4-5 years.
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Responsible for some of the most cerebral and age-worthy wines in the world...
Responsible for some of the most elegant and age-worthy wines in the world, Nebbiolo is the star variety of northern Italy’s Piedmont region. Grown throughout the area as well as in neighboring Valle d’Aosta and Valtellina, it is at its best in the Piedmontese villages of Barolo and Barbaresco. Nebbiolo is a finicky grape, and needs a very particular soil type in order to thrive. Outside of Italy, it often fails to show the captivating aromas for which it is so beloved, but some success has been achieved in parts of California.
In the Glass
Nebbiolo is an elegant variety with mouthwatering acidity and a compelling perfume of rose petals, violets, fresh tar, licorice, clay, and dried cherries. Light in color and body, Nebbiolo is a more powerful wine than one might expect, and its firm tannins typically need time to mellow. With age, it develops a velvety texture and a stunningly complex bouquet.
Nebbiolo’s love affair with food starts in Piedmont, which is home to the Slow Food movement and some of Italy’s best produce. The region is famous for its white truffles and wild boar ragu, both of which make for excellent pairings with Nebbiolo.
If you love Barolo and Barbaresco but can’t afford to drink them every night, you can try the more wallet-friendly, earlier-drinking Langhe Nebbiolo. But Piedmont’s best-kept secret is the northern part of the region, where outstanding earthy and rustic versions of the variety (known here as “Spanna”) are produced in Ghemme and Gattinara.