Published on April 22nd, 2012 | by Greg0
Shannon Ridge Ranch Collection: Sustainable, Affordable
Rarely do we get a chance to seriously try four wines from the same location and the same winery- this often happens in tastings, but rarely can we compare and contrast bottles of several varietals in a controlled setting. We definitely recommend doing so, if you get a chance- it can offer a constructive look at how a single area can still result in vastly different wines based on the type of grape. It's similar to trying to look head-to-head at a particular varietal across different regions, and today's set offers three reds and a white from a winemaker you might not be familiar with.
The Shannon Ridge Wines Ranch Collection comes from Lake County, California, part of the High Valley AVA, and they are certified sustainable. They offer a few others as well, including a special blend and a merlot, but we'll start with the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. This was a pretty wine- all of the labeling is attractive, and distinctive, and the color was light and immediately appealing. This one was aged in stainless steel, so had that dry crispness and fruitiness instead of oak flavors, and the aromas were tropical- mango, papaya. Upon sipping, it had the typical citrus zest, but with a little thickness and structure. Would pair nicely across a variety of seafoods, and we tried it with a blue cheese salad, which worked nicely. $16 a bottle, and a solid buy at the price point, refreshing if not particularly memorable.
The Shannon Ridge 2009 Petite Sirah, by contrast, was a tasty winner that most everyone kept coming back to. It opens up nicely, approachable and with the blackberry and spice that you might expect. But a twist of oak and green tobacco (not smoke) kept it going and the finish was surprisingly long. We had this with our appetizer, some barbecue, and it felt well-balanced. Not too sweet, not overpowering, soft but not weak, it does take some care and a little attention, since it isn't as brash or bold as the next reds. But sip carefully and it's rewarding. $19 a bottle.
Their '09 Zinfandel is also a pretty firm example of the varietal- spicy, rich, deep, with vanilla notes that become stronger as it aerates a bit. This is the sort of wine you can take home with a box of chocolates, or pair against savory dishes. It was a solid California Zinfandel, of the type that were amongst our first favorites, flexible and easy to like. It's fruity and smooth, and though it doesn't linger or offer a great amount of complexity, it was the easiest of the set to drink by the glass with friends. $19 a bottle, and well worth it.
Finally, the Shannon Ridge 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon was also impressive. They've won Double Golds at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for their cabs, so we were definitely excited to try this one. Their description is pretty useful: "deep color and flavors were achieved with gentle handling, controlled fermentation and some extended maceration". We'd usually pair a cabernet against steak, lamb, or other red meats, but we decided to shake things up a bit and tried a tasting with fresh meaty marinara pasta, with black olives. And it worked quite well, the slight saltiness and herbals bringing out a little extra from this wine in our opinion. This one tastes of plums and offers quite a bit of tannin to please the palate, and holds on for quite a while. A couple of comments that were made: "major legs", "a gem", and "dark and splendid". Our overall favorite, and a great value at only $19 a bottle!