2002 Ridge Vineyards Santa Cruz Mountains Red Blend
Sweeter and more plummy fruit. Seems quite different from the 2006. Like very fresh damsons and some cassis. Rich, dense, velvety black fruit. A touch of black olive or tar and mineral. So accomplished and seemingly effortless even though there's structure and fresh fruit and very good acidity. Textbook without shouting about it. With time: more coffee and peppery spice. Quite a grip on the finish but I'm happy to be gripped like this!
Medium bright ruby. Flamboyant aromas of stewed currant, graphite and eucalyptus. Fat, sweet and accessible, with creamy flavors of bitter cherry, mint and sweet American oak. Conveys a slight overripe/underripe quality, but the wine's acids are fairly harmonious and there's plenty of weight on the palate. Finishes with slightly dry tannins.
The justly famous Monte Bello estate vineyard is divided—by soil, exposure, and point of ripening—into thirty-six parcels that are harvested and fermented separately. The oldest were planted 54 years ago; average vine age is 26 years. Historically, each parcel produces a particular style, varying from the structured, long-lived wines set aside for the Monte Bello to the full, rich wines that make up the Home Ranch, and the well-defined, more approachable ones that go into the Santa Cruz Mountains. The 2002 Santa Cruz Mountains contains eight of the parcels. In the last phase of assemblage, a year after vintage, additional merlot was added for structural elegance. To soften tannins, barrel aging was extended to two full years in air-dried American oak, 40% new, 45% one and two years old, and 15% three and four years old. This appealing wine is redolent of deep, black fruit. It is enjoyable now, but will soften and develop further complexity over five to ten years of bottle age. 50% cabernet sauvignon, 48% merlot, 2% petit verdot.