Ridge wines offer a variety of flavors


October 11, 1992|By Michael Dresser

The following Ridge wines were purchased in Maryland in recent weeks:

1989 Ridge Zinfandel, Sonoma ($10). It's not a superstar like some other Ridge zinfandels, but there's plenty of ripe raspberry and herb flavors in this reasonably priced wine. It will be even more of a bargain when it goes on special in Maryland in the coming weeks.

* 1990 Ridge Geyserville ($16.95). This blend of 64 percenzinfandel, 18 percent petite sirah and 18 percent carignane is a testament to the power of old vines. It has immense concentration and intense flavors of raspberry, blackberry, herbs. Monumental, but graceful.

* 1990 Ridge Zinfandel, Lytton Springs ($16.95). Holy moley, what a wine! It's everything the Geyserville is, only more intense, with an extra dollop of black pepper and a certain wildness. If only there were more of it. . . .

* 1989 Ridge Zinfandel, Lytton Springs ($16). A fine, elegant wine with good concentration and hints of coffee, chocolate, rosemary and thyme. A fine performance for a spotty vintage.

* 1990 Ridge Mataro, Evangelo Vineyard ($19). Mataro, betteknown as mourvedre, is the leading grape of Provence, and this wine is distinguished by its flavors of herbes de Provence. More elegant and acidic than most California reds, it's a complex, structured wine that will repay several years' aging.

* 1988 Ridge Petite Sirah, York Creek ($18.39). Usually one of thbest California petite sirahs, the York Creek falls short in the mediocre 1988 vintage. It's dense and concentrated, but blocky, soft, diffuse and short on the finish. Nobody's perfect.

* 1989 Ridge Merlot, Bradford Mountain ($14.75). This is a goo ** wine for short-term drinking, but far from great. There's good fruit, some strong herbal notes, but only moderate complexity.

* 1987 Ridge Merlot, Bradford Mountain ($20.39). Perhaps flawed bottle? The awkward leathery component overshadows some attractive herbal, minty flavors and medium-weight fruit.

* 1986 Ridge Cabernet, Santa Cruz Mountains ($17). Made largely from barrels of wine deemed unfit for Montebello, this is a decent, stylish but somewhat scrawny wine suitable for short-term consumption.

* 1989 Ridge Monte Bello, Santa Cruz Mountains ($42). This could be labeled a cabernet sauvignon, because that grape makes up 96 percent of the mix. It's a soft, chewy, voluptuous style of Monte Bello, with plenty of sweet vanilla flavors from new oak. There are layers and layers of herb, coffee, chocolate and pipe tobacco flavors.

* 1990 Ridge Chardonnay, Howell Mountain ($18). There'nothing Burgundian about the body. This is a California chardonnay all the way. But the flavors of mineral, toast and pear have classic roots. It's a chardonnay for flavor freaks, not seekers after elegance. I like it a lot.

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