Why should you care? For more than four decades Ridge Vineyards has been the producer of choice for many fans of California’s signature variety, zinfandel. At their best, zinfandels offer great fruit intensity, often with exotic floral, spice and earth character, and they are seldom forbiddingly tannic. Ridge’s highly esteemed, long-time winemaker Paul Draper rose to fame largely on the reputation of his zins, especially the Geyserville and Lytton Springs bottlings. While those wines are justifiably prized, Draper’s more modestly priced and widely available zinfandel bottlings often approach the same level of quality as their famed siblings, as is the case here.
What does it taste like? From an outstanding vintage, the 2012 Zinfandel East Bench Dry Creek Valley displays powerful aromas of blackberry, cherry compote, vanilla and woodsmoke, with a spicy overtone that adds urgency. Fleshy, spicy and smooth, it shows very good clarity to its strong bitter cherry and dark berry flavors. Youthfully firm tannins give shape to the persistent finish, which features a subtle licorice note. Drink it now or age it with confidence for a decade. My score: 91 points.
How much does it cost? $28; Ridge Vineyards.