Rippey Family Vineyards “The Crossing” Napa Valley Red Wine Blend NV
This wine was a find at the Vintage Berkeley end of season sale that I went to last night. The event was a sharp-elbow extravaganza, in which we thirsty flies swarmed around the central tasting table manned by one or two brave employees attempting to pour a flight of 25 wines. It started with Old World Whites, of which my favorite was a great Albariño that I’m sure you’ll be seeing soon, followed by Old World Reds. There were a few nice ones, but also several that came across overly fruity and made me suspect that heavy oak was used to cover for lack of depth. The final 8-10 were New World reds, and there were some interesting specimens in there.
This red blend sports a Napa Valley appellation, but is non-vinted. Not much info on the label, so I had to check the website. It’s 57% Merlot from the Oak Knoll District and 43% Pinot Noir from Carneros, fermented and aged separately, and blended at bottling. The Merlot was aged in stainless, and the Pinot spent 18 months in oak. This appears to be the only wine that Rippey Family Vineyards makes, based on the website. They say this blend was meant to thumb its nose at the movie Sideways, where Merlots are pronounced flabby and undrinkable. I definitely wouldn’t call this one flabby, and, as the empty bottle demonstrates, it’s hella drinkable.
It’s a purply red wine, no sign of gas or flocculation, well faceted and thick; we’ll call it medium bodied. Vanilla, chocolate, cherries, chalk, mineral on the nose, good blend. Small amount of white flowers at the top of the glass, almost no volatized alcohol. Medium-minus alcohol, palate mirrors the nose, with the addition of some savory elements – sage, herbaceousness, and a pleasing citrus note. The finish is a little short and tart, and it would be nice to have some deeper notes to underscore the fruit tones. We might like slightly more oak exposure for the toast factor, but this is a really great wine, enjoyable to drink. We think we might decant it next time, as some exposure to air looks good on it. It would probably be even better with food, but we’re drinking it for Warriors pre-game, and dinner won’t be for a few hours. We would definitely buy it again.89/100
The Hella 5 Star System
We have adopted the opinion that fine art, music, wine, cigars, and other comestibles are governed by a unifying principle, which is that the intention of the artist matters. Art can be judged by the patron only as it pertains to the emotive and inductive properties of that art. We think Winemakers and Torcedors are artists.
Here at Hella Wine, we cut our wine-rating teeth on the wildly popular wine app Vivino. Vivino has an integrated five-star system for rating wine, but no standardized rubric to go with it, so we had to define what the star ratings actually mean, and we did so in a very personal way. This system takes into account: price, aesthetics, situational variables, relationships, and any other completely biased information we can come up with. This makes our system predictably emotional, and ratings change from glass to glass, even possibly from the same bottle.
Without further ado, our 5 star rating system revealed
I wont drink/smoke this even if you buy it!
I would drink a glass of this or smoke 1 if you bought it, but I would not order this for myself.
I would buy a glass/one cigar and enjoy it.
I would buy a bottle/5pack of this and really enjoy it.
I'd buy a case/box of this because I just love it.
The Hella 50 to 100 System
We also will usually apply the commonly used 50-100 point scale to our ratings. This tasting format, familiar from the annals of the indelible Robert Parker and Wine Spectator Magazine, does not take price or my ability to afford the wine in question into account. The situation that the drink or cigar was tasted in does not matter. This scale only reflects the quality of the wine/cigar in relation to other wines/cigars we have tasted.
You may loosely infer from this rating:
96-100: A hella amazing wine/cigar of super bold complex character displaying the attributes we hella want to find in the best wines in the world. Wines like this are hella awesome.
90 - 95: An amazing wine/cigar with hella character. Wonderful stuff, we feel lucky to try these.
80 - 89: A hella good wine/cigar, no noticeable flaws but it's just good/okay.
70 - 79: Hella basic, not so memorable wine/cigar. It's good, but just missing that something that makes it hella good, or even special.
60 - 69: Something bad happened in this wine/cigars life. Maybe it got left in a car and cooked, or maybe it sucked to begin with. All we know is we hella don't really want to finish it. Sometimes you gotta take one for the team.
50 - 59: This wine/cigar hella sucks.