By Sharon Kapnick
The talented Michael Beaulac, general manager and winemaker at Pine Ridge Vineyards, has a way with a wide range of wines sold at a wide range of prices. His 2012 Chenin Blanc + Viognier at an SRP* of $14 and his 2009 Fortis at an SRP of $150 are both stunning. I could drink the Chenin Blanc + Viognier day after day after day. If I could afford it, I might do the same with the Fortis.
While Pine Ridge (pineridgevineyards.com) specializes in appellation-driven Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons from the Stags Leap, Rutherford, Oakville, Carneros and Howell Mountain districts, it also makes Chardonnay, Rosé, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Port and a couple of red blends.
But the Chenin Blanc + Viognier is a revelation. (It’s so special, it even has its own website, pineridgecbv.com):
2012 Chenin Blanc + Viognier (80% Chenin Blanc, 20% Viognier): Pine Ridge’s Chenin Blanc + Viognier dates back to the early 1990s, when it started out as an experiment. Now the CB + V is one of its most popular wines. And it’s one of the most appealing wines I’ve come across in a long time. Pine Ridge’s website explains its appeal well: “This unique marriage of two varietals that would never share the same bottle in their native France unites the crisp, honeyed fruit of Chenin Blanc with the plush body, light floral aromas and juicy stone fruit notes of Viognier…” Wine guru Robert M. Parker Jr. has been rating it 90 year after year. I’d rate it as “much, much too good to miss.”
It has aromas and flavors of honeydew, white peach, green plum, apple, grapefruit, pineapple and pear. It’s lush, lively, slightly off dry, well balanced and versatile-–not to mention unique and delicious.
But Pine Ridge is known for its Cabernet Sauvignons. Here are two from the excellent 2009 vintage for Cab lovers:
2009 Stags Leap District Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (SRP: $85): Aromas and flavors of bing and dark cherries, raspberry, boysenberry and strawberry, with touches of briar, espresso spice, dried violets, caramel, baking spice and sugared cinnamon toast. Silky tannins. Excellent balance. Supple palate. Velvety finish.
2009 Fortis Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Fortis is the tête de cuvée from the vineyard blocks that are standouts regardless of appellation. This Fortis has flavors and aromas of cassis, black mission fig, blueberry, blackberry and raspberry, with hints of caramel, dried rose petal, vanilla, chocolate ganache, espresso bean, brown butter and toast. Creamy tannins. Rich. Complex. Full bodied. Smooth and lasting finish.
*Wines can usually be found for less–-sometimes considerably less–than the SRP (suggested retail price). Check out wine-searcher.com to get an idea of actual prices. And Pine Ridge has a wine club that offers the wines at discounted prices.
Note: I was sent samples of the red wines and had the white at lunch with the winemaker.