Ridge Vineyards East Bench Zinfandel 2015

Ridge Vineyards is a famed Californian wine producer founded in 1962, and based in the Santa Cruz Mountains, but with vineyards in several parts of the state. Its flagship wine, Monte Bello, is a Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated Bordeaux blend known for delivering the complexity and elegance of Bordeaux wines, as well as typical California fruit intensity. It is also well known for its range of Zinfandel wines and Zinfandel-based blends, led by the Geyserville cuvée. Wines made from Petite Sirah, Carignan and a Grenache – Mataro blend have also been longstanding features in the range, and Ridge has made a small amount of Chardonnay each vintage for many decades.
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  • 92pts Antonio Galloni
  • 100% Zinfandel
  • medium to full-bodied effort has wonderful purity of fruit as well as slightly more density in its black and blue fruits, earth, and dried spices.
  • Single Bottle
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  • 92


Tasting Profile

  • Light (Light)
    Full (Full)
  • Low Tannin (Low Tannin)
    Tannic (Tannic)
  • Sweet (Sweet)
    Dry (Dry)
  • Low Acidity (Low Acidity)
    High Acidity (High Acidity)
  • Aroma
    • Blueberry
    • Boysenberry
    • Herbal
  • Palate
    • Blue Fruits
    • Cassis
    • Graphite

Food Pairings

  • Pork
  • Red Meat

Critic Scores & reviews

  • Antonio Galloni

    "The 2015 Zinfandel East Bench, 100% Zinfandel from Ridge's Dry Creek estate, is deep, pliant and generous, all qualities that make it easy to drink and enjoy, even today. Succulent dark cherry and plum fruit flavors add to the wine's up-front personality. Bright acids perk up the finish, but this is a decidedly fruity style."

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The United States is now the fourth-largest producer of wine worldwide, with an abundance of grapevines planted in many wine regions, though Californian accounts for almost 90% of the country's output. In the late 1800s, the root louse phylloxera decimated many of the vineyards in Europe. It originated in the soils of North America where the vines are naturally resistant and was transferred to Europe on vine cuttings. In this case, North America was both the cause of the problem, and the solution, in the form of resistant rootstock for grafting.

It wasn’t until 1973 when Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon and a Chardonnay from Château Montelana were judged to be the best in the world at the famous Paris Wine Show that the quality of the Californian wine industry was truly confirmed in the eyes of Europe.

Most all varieties are planted these days in the United States, from Syrah to Tempranillo, Pinot Noir to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Viognier and every blend in between. Key varieties are Californian Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Chardonnay. Cooler climates such as Oregon and Washington produce brilliant Pinot Noir. Even states previously considered too hot and arid for wine, like Arizona are being planted, with great results.


California is home not only to most of the wine production in the United States, but also to some of the country’s most renowned wines. Thanks to a climate that features warmth, sunshine, cooling influences from ocean breezes and fog, and varying altitudes, California producers can make a wide range of wine styles. Among California’s black grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon (the state’s most widely planted black variety), Zinfandel, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. For white wines, the most prominent are Chardonnay (the most planted grape variety of either colour) and Sauvignon Blanc. Regionally speaking, California’s main vineyards fall under five regions, three of which contain most of the county appellations and American Viticultural Areas (AVAs): North Coast, Central Coast, and Central Valley (which produces most of the state’s wine). North Coast encompasses the counties of Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino. Central Coast includes the Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey AVAs as well as San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, including the Paso Robles AVA and Santa Maria Valley AVA. Central Valley is home to the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys as well as the Lodi AVA.

Santa Cruz Mountains

Within California’s Central Coast American Viticultural Area (AVA) is the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. The area sits on the coast of the Pacific Ocean between the major cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles. The Santa Cruz mountain range itself – part of the Coast Range – sits between the ocean and the vineyards, shielding the grapes from the cold, wet, foggy conditions coming off the water. Grapegrowers plant many of the vineyards at higher altitudes – to nearly 800 metres; this elevation provides a moderating influence on hot daytime temperatures, with cooler night-time air making its way down the slopes, forcing the warmer air upwards. This diurnal phenomenon also helps mitigate frost. The Santa Cruz Mountains AVA comprises three counties: Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo. The three most prominent varieties here are Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. The AVA’s eastern side enjoys warmer temperatures, making it also well-suited to Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.

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Pairs Well With

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About the brand Ridge Vineyards

The history of Ridge Vineyards begins in 1885, when Osea Perrone, a doctor who became a prominent member of San Francisco’s Italian community, bought 180 acres near the top of Monte Bello Ridge. He terraced the slopes and planted vineyards; using native limestone, he constructed the Monte Bello Winery, producing the first vintage under that name in 1892. This unique cellar, built into the mountainside on three levels, is Ridge’s production facility. At 2600asl, it is surrounded by the “upper vineyard”, now referred to as the Perrone Ranch.
At Ridge Vineyards their belief is of that modern and increasingly industrial wines lack the complexity, the sense of place, and the ability to age and develop that pre-industrial wines demonstrated. Today their winemaking techniques date back to the 19th Century – to methods used in the finest California wineries such as La Cuesta, and in the Bordeaux chateaux of that era.
Their winemaking philosophy includes fermenting entirely with native yeasts from the vineyard, rather than cultured yeast strains; extracting colour, flavour, and tannins from the grapes without use of commercial enzymes; determining – by tasting for tannin extraction during fermentation how long to continue pump-overs; allowing malolactic fermentation to occur naturally, without inoculation; achieving wine clarity through settling and racking; making major winemaking decisions, including blending, are based on tasting rather than a pre-determined recipe. These winemaking techniques have been employed at Ridge for over fifty years, with the goal of making the best, most site-specific wines possible. The starting point is (of course) having great vineyards.
Ridge Vineyards were blessed by finding and acquiring the 125-year-old Monte Bello vineyard. Abandoned after Prohibition this site and its now-sixty-year-old cabernet vines were replanted in the late 1940s. Searching for the best, most expressive sites, they made their first zinfandel in 1964 from eighty-year-old vines. In 1966 they also made their first Geyserville- from vines that are now one hundred and thirty years old – and have made it every year since. 1972 marked their first Lytton Springs, from vines planted in 1902. Over the following years, they realised that those two, out of more than fifty old-vine zinfandel vineyards they have worked with, were producing the highest quality wines – most complex and consistent in their individual character.
In 1990, they took over the Geyserville vineyard on a long-term lease with right of first refusal. In 1991 and 1995, they acquired the eastern, and then the western, portion of the vineyard lands first planted by “Captain” Litton in the 1870s. They, with Monte Bello, make up their three estate vineyards. Farming them sustainably, they attempt to carry the soil, the microclimate – everything affecting the site – into the wine, and to gain a true sense of place.
Today, the three provide 75% of the fruit we use, and they will soon be organically certified. That means we use cover crops, integrated pest management techniques, mechanical weed removal, and composted grape pomace in place of pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers.

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