Wine of the Week: Pine Ridge's $9.99 Crowd Pleaser/Polarizer
Pine Ridge is one of those Napa brands that people have collected and saved since before Napa wines became the rage across the 1% that actually have cellars to store wine in. The producer brought French thinking and balance to California wine making, producing great wines that became greater with time. I still have a few bottles held aside from decades ago I keep waiting to open, and I assume they'll at least be good, if not better.
The vineyards at Pine Ridge
As Pine Ridge wines tend to price at the "premium" end of the range, for all their quality they don't tend to fit this column, which holds to a $40 price ceiling. But we're always looking for price-to-quality anomalies, and Pine Ridge delivered us one. Two actually,and in a Cooks-Illustrated-like happy moment, the cheapest Pine Ridge wine turns out to be our favorite white of the week.
Before diving into the 2010 Chenin Blanc + Viognier tasting notes, let's acknowledge that this might be a polarizing wine. If you seek the licking-a-chalkboard-not-yet-erased dryness of some Rieslings, or feel the word "sweet" has no place in wine of any kind, this isn't for you. But if a note of the tropics and an illusion, or reality, of sweetness suits you just fine, this wine is going to make you smile. It's my fun, crowd pleasing, party wine of choice for the moment.
Palate Tip: When it comes to wine criticism, remember that critics can only taste from their own palates. Whether you agree entirely with that palate or are its polarity, you can gain equal value. There are critics I respect who I know love certain things in wine (like "bret") which I tend to find distracting beyond a modest presence, so their enjoyment, endorsement, and notation of those elements helps me know not to go there. Look for writers that love what you love or love what you hate. and you'll find a ready source of wines to buy or avoid.
Wine: Pine Ridge 2010 Chenin Blanc + Viognier
Tasting Notes: Bright, creamy and exotic tropical notes fill your mouth from the first sip. Feijoa (aka pineapple guava) and papaya are first to appear, and the feijoa is so present as to draw almost all your attention. Passion fruit juice, a modest hint of banana, a bit of granny smith, some overripe pear and a note of the finish-flavor pineapple leaves behind, all encased in a creamy lushness that makes this wine just plain fun to drink. Warm day or not.
Notes on Second Day Taste: Tasting this wine again after a day to let it develop a bit, we found it mellowed meaningfully in the dominance of the tropical fruits and came together in a generally creamy lushness with lightened notes of granny smith apples, pears, and a touch of banana. If you don't love the wine when you first open it, wait a few hours to a day, and experience a significantly different wine. It's a trick that works on many wines, but that's a post for another day.
Price & Where to Buy It:$14 SRP, but a rocking deal for $9.99 at K and L. Also available at The Good Life Grocery, Mollie Stones and Falletti Foods.