A powerful, brawny red blend for the modern ages, the Oyster Ridge from ANCIENT PEAKS‘ Santa Margarita Ranch is, especially in the 2013 vintage, a terrific showcase for the emerging identity of California Central Coast red wines. An area that encompasses the wine regions of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey and Paso Robles counties, to name the largest of them, the Central Coast is—figuratively speaking, of course—catching fire.
For a young region and in a relatively short time, the Central Coast these days is capable of producing superb, highly distinctive wines for value and for prestige. Want a great $25 red wine? Go Central Coast. Want a blockbuster $75 or $125 high-end red? Go Central Coast. Want a $50 red that outperforms and stands up to the quality of much higher priced reds from much more heralded areas around the world? Go Central Coast.
Ancient Peaks is one of the Central Coast wineries that is virtually re-defining what it means to be a value wine producer, and the Oyster Ridge is their prestige bottling—a blend of their finest barrels of the vintage. In 2013, the blend is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah, 5% Petite Sirah and 5% Malbec. It’s a big, big wine: rich flavor of concentrated blackberry and dark cherry with a note of smoked and brined meat, chewy and robust tannins, epic structure and very, very lengthy on the finish. Straight up classy too, and far from straightforward or flat or obvious for a wine that’s 14.8% ABV—the first clue is in the classy character of the wine’s bouquet, where you can really smell that chalkiness and stony minerality of the vineyard’s distinctive terroir.
There’s no comparisons to make. This isn’t Bordeaux, and this isn’t Napa. This great wine is Central Coast, pure and true. –J.M.