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Expensive wine 43: Ridge Three Valleys 2010

Ridge Three ValleysIf more California producers tended to business the way Ridge does, the Wine Curmudgeon would not have nearly as much to complain about. It has been one of the best wineries in the U.S. for almost four decades, and it’s not a coincidence that its Monte Bello cabernet sauvignon was a California entry at the Judgment of Paris.

Even during the silliness before the recession, when so many wineries chased points and dollar signs, Ridge did things pretty much the way it had always done them. It’s still doing that today, which is why it’s always on my list of the wineries that I respect the most.That’s saying something, because its least expensive wine is around $25.

That’s the Three Valleys ($22, purchased), a red blend made of mostly zinfandel. It has enough zinfandel character to appeal to those who like the post-modern style, yet it's also balanced between the jammy blackberry fruit, the oak, and what seems to be an almost herbal-like spiciness. And, somehow, it's only 14.4 percent alcohol, almost unheard of for zinfandel these days.

In this, it's an honest wine, something Ridge has always aimed for. Winemaker John Olney practices his craft the way it should be, and not how so many others do it to get high scores or critical raves.

Pair this wine with almost any red wine food, especially as the days get cooler, and it's an excellent choice for the fall holidays.

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