February 1, 2007

2004 Ridge Three Valleys Zinfandel, Sonoma County, California

You deserve better photography, and perhaps we should take the label shots before we drink the wine. Please be patient with us.

A couple weeks ago we tried the Ridge Syrah, a limited production wine from a winery that is highly respected for its Zinfandels. That Syrah rocked our world, and winecommando gave it a solid 10 rating. I am going to buy a case of it for the small basement room that we call the "cellar."

It's the Zinfandels, though, that everyone talks about from Ridge. I've had several from them including the Lytton Springs, Geyserville and Pagani Ranch. They are all consistently excellent. We had not tried the Three Valleys Zinfandel, though, and were excited to give it a taste.

The name "Three Valleys" for this wine is to signify that it is blended from multiple vineyards. The wine itself is a mix of 68% Zinfandel, 11% Carignane, 10% Syrah, 7% Petite Sirah, and 4% Grenache. You can bet that a tremendous amount of effort and tasting went into figuring that blend out. The grapes that Ridge chooses for this wine are from the more accessible of the lots from their single vineyards. This wine is made from grapes grown in the vineyards of Lytton Springs, Dry Creek, Geyserville, Mazzoni, Stone Valley Ranch, and Pagani Ranch. It was fermented in classic Ridge style, meaning with the natural yeasts and minimal intervention.

We opened and decanted the wine without tasting right away. It's a Zin, I figured we shouldn't rush it. After about 30 minutes we poured a couple glasses. The first thing that struck us was the color. Deep, dark red. So dark that it is almost black towards the center of the glass. The nose was full of grape jelly, a tinge of sharper raspberry, and a scent I can only classify as wet hay or wet grass. The nose was wonderful. I also picked up a little black pepper. We had read a review of this wine earlier and it said something about "briar" in the nose. I have no idea what briar smells like and can't tell you that we picked that one up. What the hell does briar smell like? I want to know.

The palate was exactly what we thought it would be, given the nose. It was concentrated and rich, though the wine was surprisingly medium bodied. You think Zinfandel and you conclude, typically, big and heavy bodied wines. Not so here. Dare I say, this Zinfandel is ELEGANT? Must be the blend. Anyway, the palate had round jammy strawberry and chocolate, if you smoke cigars you might recognize just the slightest tobacco type taste. I don't really smoke cigars, but we have these friends who always foist them on me when we get together and I tend to oblige, much to Cat's chagrin.

The finish on this wine is long, and overall it was especially pleasing. It is not incredibly sophisticated, nor is it exceptional. It is solid and for the price delivers an excellent experience. It would be terrific with grilled beef, chili, or even tacos.

cost - $22.99

winecommando rating (1-10) - 8

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