1985 Ridge Vineyards Zinfandel Canyon Road & 1985 Monte Bello


I am not familiar with Californian wines like some of my Vinous colleagues. However, during 2023, I enjoyed several mature bottles from Ridge Vineyards, which is certainly one of my favorite producers. The 1985 Zinfandel Canyon Road appeared at a lunch in Hong Kong among a cluster of Bordeaux and Burgundy, acquitting itself well in auspicious company. Showing only slight bricking on the rim, this bottle has a warm and inviting bouquet surfeit with red plummy fruit commingling with roasted chestnut and a touch of espresso. A subtle floral scent pokes its head up after a few minutes in the glass, together with a bergamot hint. The palate is quite sweet and plush on the entry, fleshy and perhaps just missing a bit of grip and backbone on the back end. Yet, for a 38-year-old Zinfandel, this has aged commendably and will continue to sashay along for another decade. 90/Drink 2024-2034.

The following month, this time in Pauillac, another Ridge Vineyards wine born in the same vintage turned up at dinner, again juxtaposed against some famous Bordeaux. The 1985 Monte Bello is one gorgeous wine. The bouquet bursts from the glass with vibrant red berry fruit, light cigar smoke, wilted rose petals, and blood orange aromas that seem to gain intensity in the glass. The palate is reminiscent of the same vintage in Bordeaux insofar as it is blessed with a sensual, corpulent body that caresses the senses. Beautifully balanced, still fresh with a cashmere finish, this is nigh irresistible Monte Bello cruising at the peak of its powers. 94/Drink 2024-2044.

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