Friday, December 16, 2011

Current Releases: Pine Ridge

A couple of years ago I had the chance to attend an industry party at Pine Ridge.  It was put on by some PR firm from down in LA.  The caves had been lit up with mood lights and dotted with lounge furniture that looked like it was borrowed from a night club.  The whole scene was uber hip and a little distracting, if not at odds with what I thought was Pine Ridge's feel.  You know, stewards of the land, pillars of the community, champions of sustainability - all that.  But the wine, the wine, all from Stag's Leap producers, was insanely good.  Somehow, though, I made it through that party without tasting any Pine Ridge wines.  Nor had I since, until now.

As part of another terrific TasteLive (online tasting with video of winemakers and built-in Twitter feeds) event, four of Pine Ridge's current releases were sampled.  In brief, the Cabs outclass the whites, even if the prices are strictly special occasion for most folks.  For the Cabs, in what is likely attributable to the vintage, these two wines are surprisingly approachable in their youth - especially the Stag's Leap, which typically needs years more in the bottle or a day or two open before drinking.  While the Stags Leap Cab is exemplary in its quality, the regular Napa Cab won be over for its comforting enjoyability.

Overall a strong lineup holding little risk for those with thick enough wallets to get past the hefty cover.

(Disclosure: these wines were received as press samples.)

2010 CheninBlanc/Viognier California $14
Superlight pale straw color.  Crisp, inviting nose with tropical honeysuckle fruit in abundance.  Closer to demi-sec that I care for, but it does finish clean.  A well made summer/spicy Thai food quaffer.

2009 Chardonnay Carderos Dijon Clones $30
Serious business nose gives way to an attack delivering smoke, oak, and intrigue.  But the expectations the nose created for a monster Chard turn out to be misguided.  Mid palate is thin, lean, and decidedly European in style.  Body expands as it comes to room temp along with acidic clarity.  Looking for an austere Burgundy from Napa?  This could be for you.

2008 Cabernet Napa Valley $54
Note: decanted 5 hours before tasting. Whoa.  Sexy looking.  Enticing vanilla wafts from the glass.  Decanting has softened this already approachable wine significantly - and to its benefit.  Supple texture, lovely balance, and a leisurely walk through its dimensions await the palate.  Medium to full bodied and very pleasant t a deeper level than expected.  Easy to love because it is, well, lovely.

2008 Cabernet Stags Leap District $80
Note: decanted 5 hours before tasting. Now we're in serious territory.  Expensive looking (how do they do that?).  Refined.  Also enjoying the time decanted.  Italian Cashmere texture welcomes you into the Cabernet Boudoir VIP Room, though you wonder how you got past security.  Oh, right...you paid your hefty cover ($80!).  Real depth, structure, and complex acids are dressed up in a lithe evening dress.  Undeniably terrific even at this very young age.

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