As the vines at East Bench mature, they are proving to be a significant part of Ridge’s legacy for future generations. While Paul Draper and David Gates have focused decades of their energy sustaining California’s ancient plantings of zinfandel, they have also used the genetic inheritance from four of those pre-Prohibition parcels in a research project that resulted in the selection of zinfandel cuttings they propagated to plant East Bench in 2000 and 2001. The site of an abandoned zinfandel vineyard from the 19th century, East Bench is close to Lytton Springs, at the border between the Dry Creek and Alexander valleys. Gates farms the vineyard as if it were one of his historic sites, the vines head trained and spur pruned. John Olney, now COO and head winemaker at Ridge, has been in charge at Lytton Springs since this project began. The vines are now hitting their stride, this wine’s grapes harvested just as the fires began in 2020, their fruit providing what may be the most beautiful East Bench Zinfandel yet. The wine feels completely ripe, a cool well of fruit surrounded by earthen depths of tannins. Over the course of several days, the wine yields flavors of blueberries, roses and savory herbs, the detail in the tannins suggesting a long life ahead.
Every week, our editors highlight a wine that intrigued them in our blind panel tastings, expanding on their tasting note in this space. These are entirely editorial choices; there are no paid placements. Subscribers can also access the original tasting note by searching here.
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