2017 Ridge Vineyards, Syrah/Grenache/Mataro, Lytton Estate Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County.
One of my favorite red wines, Ridge’s GSM from their estate vines at Lytton Springs is an uniquely Californian version of a Rhone classic blend with a rich and opulent palate, very much in the mold of the winery’s house style and with Lytton Spring’s terroir showing in the taste profile. This ripe and dark fruited 2017 vintage was a blend of 62% Syrah, 27% Grenache and 11% Mataro (Mourvedre) that was indigenous yeast fermented and allowed to go through natural malos in barrel with no additions and very low doses of SO2 to display the sense of place and the year in the bottle, which this Chateauneuf du Pape inspired Cal Rhone does beautifully, as well as letting the grapes speak in each of thrown voices. The Syrah leads the way with dense blue fruits, along with its meaty and spicy character, while the sweet Grenache gives plummy vinous generosity and the Mataro, which really enjoyed the warm season, getting its full complexity, adds some rustic charm and adds an earthy/savory element that helps balance the wine as a whole. Those that love Ridge will find a comfort in this offering, especially in this vintage with its polished full bodied palate and a seamless mouth feel, this is wine that thrills the senses and has an expansive textural quality to go with its layers of boysenberry, plum, red currant and cherry fruits that are accented by a racy array of spice, herb, dried lavender, cedar and anise, along with a touch of toasty oak and lingering violette liqueur. Ridge suggests many intriguing pairs for this GSM, they include a Cajun spiced turkey with collard greens, braised lamb shanks over mashed potatoes as well as crispy pork belly over red lentils and curried squash, all of which sound amazing!

The inky hue and overt fruit really highlight the year and as this 2017 Syrah, Grenache and Mataro opens up in the glass to reveal an additional dimension of mocha, black fig, freshly shaved vanilla and peppery notes making this a wine exceptional with robust cuisine, in particular hearty meat stews, casseroles and BBQs, but it is flexible enough to go with hard cheeses, mushroom dishes and or pulled pork sandwiches. This wine comes from two hillside parcels at Lytton West, according to Ridge, with one plot planted entirely to Syrah while the other one is planted to half Grenache and half Mataro (Mourvedre) vines, and it is fermented and aged on site at the Lytton Springs facility using Ridge’s special 100% air-dried American oak barrels, choosing a combination of 10% new barrels with the rest being mostly one and two years-old casks with a few older neutral ones as well that helps balance it out while softening the tannins in this dark powerful wine. The low sulfur program employed at Ridge protects the wine’s color and keeps it fresh and stable aging so it can keep well in the cellar, while still providing for a more natural purity in the red’s performance. This vintage saw 12 months in barrel aging and then was bottle rested for almost a year before release to mature and settle, so that when the cork is popped it delivers a full account of its self, I usually try to age my Ridge wines, but I felt an overwhelming urge to open this one and I was not disappointed at all, though I can clearly see that this Rhone blend would benefit from a decade in a cool dark place. Ridge is one of America’s great wine treasures with many historic and legendary wines to their credit and they continue to impress me every year, with their awesome collection of releases, like this one!
($38 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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