Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Ridge Master Class: Wine Blogger Tasting Series 2011

On Sunday September 25th  I joined a group of wine writers and bloggers for the 3rd edition of the 2011 Wine Blogger Tasting Series, one of the most sought after wine events hosted by Christopher Watkins of Ridge Vineyards at the Lytton Springs location in Dry Creek Valley.

I attended last year when we sat out on the crush pad and the temperature hovered around 90 degrees. This year the crush pad was in glorious use for harvest and we got to watch as the fruit came in and was hoisted into the de-stemmer. Then after tasting some carignane direct from the tap, we retreated to the barrel room where it was nice and cold.

The wines Christopher selected for the tasting were all small production library wines. Most came from stock with less than nine cases on hand. We tried wines from Monte Bello and Lytton Springs, some from vineyards I've never even heard of before.

I’m always amazed how well the Ridge wines hold up for years and years and years. I probably should not be surprised really since the age-ability of Ridge is it's common denominator. But I have very little discipline when it comes to cellaring wine and tend to drink things in the now rather then in the future.

Christopher reminds me of this crazy cool professor I knew in college who was obsessed with rare books, German literature and Swing music. His house was filled with shelves of classic and esoteric works of literature and old records.

He’d scan a shelf and pull a book out and say-- Oh have you read this? Do you know this work? Then he would read a passage aloud. Or he’d grab a record and say --You gotta hear this. He would play a piece of music and you would be so wowed by it. This professor was like a spirit guide to the volumes of written works that you just had to read. I'd leave his house with my mind slightly blown and a lengthy list of books I had to get my hands on. 

Ridge events to me are so similar, Christopher is our "spirit guide” scanning the library wines for just the right passage, just the few phrases that will jolt you, change you, make you rethink all other wines. It's a sybaritic journey of wine and poetry and the simple pleasure of letting go and dropping into what's in the glass. I love these events it like a master class for bloggers who want to be challenged and stretched in the most wonderful way. 

At some point in the day I always realize note taking is futile. I just put my pen or in this case phone down. Nothing I say will do it justice. So I just give in to the pleasure in the glass. I find it takes days to process it all. Ridge events are journeys that take you on a wild ride to the far corners of your palate and expectations. 
We also had a special treat courtesy of Richard Jennings @rjonwine who brought a mystery bottle that we tasted blind then were asked to guess the vintage, varietal and vineyard designation. I guessed 92 based on absolutely nothing but the color and was not far off, but struck out, way out, on guessing the varietal and vineyard. It turned out to be a 1990 Barbera from Rancho Pequeno. It was lovely and wonderful of Richard to bring it along to share. 

If you want a full account of the wines and tasting notes I suggest you check out the blogs of Richard Jennings @rjonwine or Fred Swan @norcalwine for full details. 

Thank you Christopher (and Brandy) for a great day at The Ridge Master Class! 


Links to other blog posts from the day:
Martin Redmond -- Great re-cap of the wines we had with tasting notes.
Christopher Watkins -- Thoughts from our "spirit guide" Christopher and a groovy video. 


  1. Great post Marcy! Love the comparison of Christopher to the crazy cool college professor.

  2. @Enofylz -- Thanks Martin. Great to finally meet you IRL at Ridge.



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