Wine Reviews Tasting Notes and Education for the Non-Snob, by Vino Joe, a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW)

Pine Ridge Chardonnay

Pine Ridge Chardonnay Dijon Clones Carneros – Napa Valley, California

pine-ridge-chardonnay-dijonEvery once in a while I get a hankering for big, buttery, Chardonnay — i.e., “New World” style, usually from a warm-to-hot wine region.

Although this wine comes from grapes picked both from Carneros and Napa Valley, to me, this wine speaks Napa. When I think of Napa Valley Chardonnay, I think of a rich golden color, toasty vanilla and super-ripe pear aromas, over-the-top sweet ripe fruit upfront, and a hefty, almost syrupy texture. Pine Ridge delivers on all these expectations.

To be clear, this is a style of wine that I want to have occasionally — not all the time. It’s huge in the mouth, with globs of sweet bright fruit that is almost cloying, but somewhat tempered with ample acidity. This wine definitely got a good dose of American barrels, because in addition to the vanilla punch it has more tannin than most rose wines and a few light reds. Though it finishes dry thanks to the acid and tannin, this has plenty of sweet flavor upfront and through the midpalate, which means I recommend you pair it with spicy foods. I matched it successfully with BonChon fried chicken. On its own, I’m sure there is a crowd that will love this as a “cocktail wine,” though its acid and tannin structure beg for food.

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This wine has also been reviewed by Heidi of Brix Chicks, Bill’s Wine Wandering, and The Wine Spies.

Disclosure: I received this wine as a press sample

Red Wine Review: Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2008 | Napa Valley, California, USA

On first whiff the nose expresses enticing black and red berry fruits — both fresh and mature, but then as it sits in the glass it’s chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. In the mouth it is similarly dominated by a milk chocolate flavor mixed with blackberry and sweet black raspberry. It has a pleasant finish of more chocolate, vanilla, sweet red berry, black cherry, and boysenberry flavors that linger. There is ample, mouth-puckering acidity and mild tannins. Texture is smooth, with good weight, feeling almost syrupy.

I’m not sure what to make of this wine. It’s clearly complex with enough acidity to match with food, but when I drank it with a juicy ribeye, all I got from the wine was chocolate. Sometimes I like the taste of chocolate, but not when I’m eating steak, so perhaps it should be more of an after-dinner wine with a cheese plate. Though the acidity was ample, the tannins were surprisingly mild. Despite all the ripe fruit upfront, there was no heat on the finish, which was nice.

Also surprising was the sediment; generally I don’t expect that from a 4-year-old wine. Sediment doesn’t bother me and I don’t consider it a flaw, but I do find it curious.

My thought is this wine was going through a “dumb phase” when I poured it — a time in its evolution when it wasn’t integrated, and showing less than its full potential. I say this because there is clearly a ton of fruit, complexity, and attractive aromas and flavors, but for whatever reason it isn’t hitting on all cylinders. If you have a bottle of this vintage, keep it in the cellar for at least another 6 months to a year before giving it a try. How long can it age? Hard to say, as the acidity will hold it together, but the lack of tannin — which with acid is also a preservative — suggests that this isn’t a wine for decade-holding. On the other hand, maybe I don’t understand what this wine is — which is possible (probable?) as I consider myself a novice when it comes to California wine.

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Disclosure: I received this wine as a press sample

This wine was also reviewed by Drinkhacker, Bigger Than Your Head (2009 vintage), Pull that Cork, and The Wine Cask Blog, among others (if you’ve seen another review or written one yourself, let us know in the comments).