In a departure from our usual blind tasting format, we took up Ali's suggestion to have a sampler of wines from the venerable winery Ridge Vineyards, poured without cover of a brown bag. We pooled our resources and put together a lineup of various styles of wine, both white and red.

We've been fans of this producer for decades, and regularly purchase the Geyserville and Lytton Springs bottlings, so it was fun to try some of their other products side-by-side.

Overall, the quality and care that Ridge takes was obvious, and what most stood out with them were refined textures and purity of flavors.

Wines are listed in order tasted. No scoring this time.

Photography by Andy.

Ridge Vineyards Chardonnay Monte Bello Estate 2021 (Santa Cruz Mountains). Slight hint of green in color, with a nose featuring burnt popcorn kernels, hazelnuts, and marshmallows, but with a lift of acidity under it all, then scents of lime peel, toasted coconut, leeks, rubber, and an unctuous quality. Woody on the palate, and having flavors of kettle corn, bright citrus, tropical fruit, and cream, but with supportive acids. Somewhat surprisingly, this was better with food. Ali decided because of the oaky notes that, "I feel like I'm going to get a splinter." About $79.

Ridge Vineyards Grenache Blanc 2022 (Paso Robles). Looks thicker in the glass. Tasters found darker, dusty scents, but also minerality, then lemons, melon, orange peel, pears, butter, and a creamy note. Not shouting on the nose. More rounded on the palate compared to the Chardonnay, with flavors reminiscent of Asian pear, apple pie (including the spices). Raspberry Jello on the finish. Solid acidity. Excellent balance. Contains 14% Picpoul. About $40.

Ridge Vineyards Geyserville 2020 (Alexander Valley). Made from 69% Zinfandel, 20% Carignane, 8% Petite Sirah, 2% Alicante Bouchet, and 1% Mataro. Like a blanket on the nose. Ali noted that "it smells like velvet feels." Scents of freshly brewed coffee, black cherries, ink, graphite, grape jelly, slightly singed herbs, like thyme and tarragon, plus fennel. The palate features bright fruit, with a beautiful, seamless texture that flows across your palate. Nicely balanced and sophisticated. Flavors of black plums, dark cherries, licorice, tarragon, leather, kalamata olives, graphite, and black pepper. About $45.

Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs 2020 (Dry Creek Valley). Composed of 79% Zinfandel, 11% Petite Sirah, and 10% Carignane, this leans more red in color, with a nose of cinnamon, dust, blackberries, blueberry pie, cranberries, mace, lemon zest, and cheesecake. Smells brighter and fresher compared to the Geyserville. Andy P was reminded of "Cape Cod pie in the summer", while Andy R thought of "a warm cave", with Ali noting, "a dusty rose." The palate isn't as elegant as the Geyserville, but feels higher in acidity, with flavors of baking chocolate, licorice, prunes, red apples, cinnamon, peach skin, and dark spices. Resa detected a hint of Band Aid. About $55.

Ridge Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Monte Bello Vineyard 2020 (Santa Cruz Mountains). Looks youthful, with a hint of blue color. Tasters found scents of burnt oak, bicycle tube, eucalyptus, orange marmalade, and sizzling bacon fat. Shows freshness and vibrancy. Intriguing. David noted that it "makes me want to jump in." Smoky bacon on the palate, plus black cherries, freshly brewed coffee, dark spices, and orange peel, then cassis and some dairy on the finish. Delicious. Beautiful texture, with a touch of salinity. Tastes youthful. Contains 6% Merlot. About $95.

Ridge Vineyards Petite Sirah Lytton Estate 2020 (Dry Creek Valley). Very purple in color, and having a nose of grape Popsicle, blue ball point pen, meat, herbed soap, red licorice, Luden's Cough drops, cherries, and a metallic, tin can quality. Not a lot of oak scents. Ali was reminded of a "combo of hay and grass." Dark, tannic, and intense. Sucks all the moisture out of your mouth. Andy P responded with "the tip of my tongue is a desert." This is an excellent example of Petite Sirah, but one would have to be fans of the grape to enjoy it. We did. About $45.

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