Review: Wines of Ancient Peaks, 2024 Releases

Review: Wines of Ancient Peaks, 2024 Releases

More wines from Paso Robles-based Ancient Peaks, which we’ve covered at length over the years. Here’s a look at the latest batch of releases, including our first encounter with the Ancient Peaks Pearl label.

2022 Ancient Peaks Chardonnay Santa Margarita Ranch – Creamy vanilla and lemon curd meld nicely against a lightly acidic backbone that continues to feel refreshing and vibrant. Notes of coconut and a grating of lime zest add some intrigue to what could have come across as well-worn and formulaic, but which instead is both crowd-pleasing and worthy of deeper consideration. A light tropical kick on the finish makes one long for summertime. Outstanding value. A- / $19

2021 Ancient Peaks Merlot Santa Margarita Ranch – Somewhat brooding with notes of tar and asphalt up front, the wine takes some time to develop before its more floral qualities become at all apparent. Toasty oak gives the plummy, blackberry-fueled core of the wine a bit of a once-over, with a smoldering herbal note — sage and bay leaf, perhaps — lingering on the finish. It’s a fully quaffable wine, but I wouldn’t have pegged it as merlot, but then again, I don’t know what I might have guessed. B / $22

2021 Ancient Peaks Zinfandel Santa Margarita Ranch – Not the most nuanced wine I’ve encountered this season, but as far as ultra-juicy chocolate- and raspberry-laden zinfandels go, fans of the style won’t come away disappointed. Notes of graphite and well-torched creme brulee give the wine a certain smoldering quality, which helps to temper some of zinfandel’s more inherently exuberant fruit. B / $22

2021 Ancient Peaks Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Margarita Ranch – Agreeable and approachable, this is one of the milder California cabernets I’ve encountered in recent memory. The currant notes are fresh and fruity, never overbearing, with a semi-sweet cherry quality folded in that eventually leads to a touch of balsamic on the finish. Gently drying at times with well-integrated tannins, it’s an absolute steal at this price. A- / $25

2020 Ancient Peaks Cabernet Sauvignon Pearl Santa Margarita Ranch – Pearl is the highest-end designation from Ancient Peaks, denoted by its black labels (rather than white). Initially aggressive with blown-out black fruit notes, the higher-end Pearl takes its time to settle into a more approachable groove that allows notes of tea leaf and cola to emerge from the aggressive core of blackberry and cassis. Give this wine ample time in glass — or decant — and the heavy fruit allows room for notes of vanilla, spiced Christmas cake, and mint to emerge. Still very sweet, though. Maybe pair it with something hearty, sauced with a fruit reduction. B+ / $72

2020 Ancient Peaks Cabernet Sauvignon Pearl Santa Margarita Ranch




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

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