Wed 2 May 2012
Gary Andrus and a group of investors founded Pine Ridge Vineyards in 1978. (Remember, this “Old-School California Cabernet” series is devoted to wineries established in 1980 or before.) Now the company owns about 200 acres in some of Napa Valley’s prime vineyard areas: Stags Leap District, Rutherford, Oakville District, Carneros and Howell Mountain. Pine Ridge’s reputation rests on cabernet sauvignon wines — there’s also chardonnay and the popular chenin blanc-viognier blend — and the emphasis from the beginning has been on classic restraint and proportion; nothing flamboyant or overdone issues from this winery. General manager and winemaker is Michael Beaulac.
Pine Ridge bottles separate cabernets from each of its appellation vineyards, but the focus of the Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Napa Valley, is a general sense, as far as it can be manifested, of the region itself and its character as an ideal location for the grape, a character cemented after Prohibition by Beaulieu Vineyards, Louis M. Martini and Inglenook and built upon by many other wineries over the decades. The wine is a blend of 76 percent cabernet sauvignon, 14 percent petit verdot, 6 percent merlot and 4 percent malbec, drawn from Pine Ridge’s estate vineyards, mainly in Stags Leap and Rutherford. It aged 18 months in 60 percent French and 40 percent American oak barrels, of which 50 percent of the barrels were new.
If your ideal of a Napa Valley cabernet is a brilliantly dark-hued wine that exudes cool aromas of pure and elemental (and slightly briery) cassis and black cherry freighted with dusty cloves and thyme, graphite and iron with undertones of cedar, tobacco, black olive and bittersweet chocolate; if that ideal wine embodies a marriage of elegance and power in its balance among a sleek supple texture, a dense chewy structure and a combined sense of deftness, fleetness, substance and dynamic energy; and, finally, if that ideal Napa Valley cabernet would feel packed with spice and warm, ripe and slightly macerated black and blue fruit flavors supported by clean earthy granite-like minerality, burnished oak and prominent but modulated tannins: Well, brothers and sisters, this is the wine for you. And, in fact, for me. A sensible 14.1 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2017 or ’18, especially with a crusty medium-rare strip steak right off the smokin’ grill. Excellent. About $54.
A sample for review.