Tasting Note                          

96       1996 Ridge Santa Cruz Mtns Merlot 5/6/05 ($32)

Color: Deep black garnet with a touch of onion skin around the rim, but no clearing. Can barely see through it. (4.0) Bouquet: Liquid Torrone candy and ripe, concentrated black cherry fruit with a forestal SCM terroir component adding to the richness and giving complexity. Very Merlot in the best sense and very classy. (4.0) Body: Light heavyweight with intense fruit surrounded by excellent acidity and fine, smooth tannins. (3.0) Flavor: Rich Merlot fruit (very ripe black cherry) with acidity and a mineral component lifting it up. Could be bigger, but delicious. (3.0) Finish: Parallels bouquet, but not quite as strong. Medium in strength, certainly not a typical pumped up CA Merlot, but long and sophisticated. (3.5)
Overall: Drinks like a very classy, top-notch Pomerol from a fine vintage with some CA fruit thrown in. An incredible Merlot from outside Bordeaux no less. It’s at its best right now, but has the structure to age for a few more years. My only bottle, I should have bought more, but who knew. The critics have always been less than enthusiastic about Ridge’s Merlots and this is probably why (at least in part) they have stopped making them at present. (17.5)    
96% Merlot, 4% CS, 13.2% alc