The wines of Ridgeback, Paarl, South Africa


Ridgeback is a wine estate located on the northern slopes of the Paarl Mountain. It’s mid-size, with 35 hectares of the 65 hectare farm under vine. This was my first time with these wines, and I was impressed with the overall quality. Paarl is a wine region that has fallen a bit out of favour of late, so it’s good to see wines like these putting it back on the map. They made their first wine in 2000, and the current winery was built in 2003. Winemaker Toit Wessels is doing a good job here.

Ridgeback Chenin Blanc 2018 Paarl, South Africa
13.5% alcohol. Golden coloured, this is rich and ripe, with melon and pineapple notes as well as a core of apple and pear fruit, finishing fresh and spicy. There’s good concentration here, and Chenin’s naturally high acidity has resulted in a ripe wine with bold fruity characters, but also some orange peel, grapefruit and lemon citrus freshness on the finish. This has a lot of flavour, and good balance. 91/100

Ridgeback Viognier 2019 Paarl, South Africa
13.5% alcohol. This is lively and intense with some lime cordial freshness, keen acidity, and rich grape and apricot notes, as well as a hint of pineapple. Lots of energy and intensity here, with some spicy, cedary oak in the mix too. A real flavour bomb. 89/100

Ridgeback Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Paarl, South Africa
14% alcohol. This has a brooding, gravelly nose of sweet blackcurrant and berry fruit with some subtle green notes. The palate is supple and sleek with some blackcurrant notes as well as a touch of cherry and a bit of tannic grip. It’s very stylish and fresh, with great balance. 90/100

Ridgeback Cabernet Franc 2017 Paarl, South Africa
14% alcohol. This is broad and sweetly fruited, with ripe, well-defined blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. Perfumed with lush black fruits, as well as some tar and gravel notes. Lush and fresh in the mouth with a slight hint of rubbery bitterness on the finish. A couple of days later this recedes, and there’s opulence, combined with freshness, and also a savoury twist. An appealing warm-climate Cabernet Franc. 89/100

Ridgeback Merlot 2016 Paarl, South Africa
14% alcohol. Fresh aromatics with bright black cherry and some leaf, tar and spice notes. The palate is elegant, pure and juicy with red berries, supple blackberry fruit, a touch of cream and some nice tannic grup. Generous and easy, but with appealing complexity and a bit of tarry grip. Well balanced and a bit chunky. Finishes with tar and spice. 90/100

Ridgeback Journey 2017 Paarl, South Africa
14% alcohol. This is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in equal proportions, topped up with 10% Petit Verdot. It shows ripe, sleek, smooth gravel and tar-edged black fruits with ripeness and some slight tarry, herby, savoury characters on the finish. It’s a ripe expression of the Bordeaux blend, but with good balance and some freshness. Drinking very well now, no need to hold. 91/100