Ridge Geyserville 2017
Blend: 68% Zinfandel, 18% Carignane, 12% Petite Sirah, 2% Alicante Bouschet
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The 2017 Geyserville is a more pretty, streamlined example of this cuvee and offers plenty of spiced blue fruits, violets, cedarwood, and flowery incense. Medium-bodied, nicely concentrated, with firm focusing tannin, it's a departure from some of the richer, more opulent examples of this cuvee yet is beautifully balanced, has integrated acidity and tannin, and a great finish.
68% Zinfandel; 18% Carignane; 12% Petite Sirah; 2% Alicante Bouschet. Starting off with aromas of a controlled and mannerly cast, but quickly opening up with air to show great depth and a promise of more to come, this wine is a bit brooding yet deeply endowed. Its early blackberry scents gain notes of dark soils, bark and sweet oak over time in the glass, and its full-bodied yet well-balanced construction on the palate could lead some to drink it up now. We would, however, counsel a more patient approach and suggest letting it rest in bottle for some three to six years at a minimum. Time is clearly its ally.
Ridge's history begins in 1885, when Osea Perrone, a doctor and prominent member of San Francisco's Italian community, bought 180 acres near the top of Monte Bello Ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains. He planted vineyards and constructed a winery of redwood and native limestone in time to produce the first vintage of Monte Bello in 1892. The historic building now serves as the Ridge production facility.
Though Ridge began as a Cabernet winery, by the mid-60s, it had produced several Zinfandels including the Geyserville. In 1972, Lytton Springs joined the line-up and the two came to represent an important part of Ridge production. Known primarily for its red wines, Ridge has also made limited amounts of Chardonnay since 1962.
The Ridge approach is straightforward: find the most intense and flavorful grapes, guide the natural process, draw all the fruit's richness into the wine. Decisions on when to pick, when to press, when to rack, what varietals and what parcels to include and when to bottle, are based on taste. To retain the nuances that increase complexity, Ridge winemakers handle the grapes and wine as gently as possible. There are no recipes, only attention and sensitivity.
Nearly a northern extension of Napa Valley, Alexander Valley starts just north of the small, Knights Valley, and is just a few minutes drive from the Napa town of Calistoga. It is Sonoma County’s hottest AVA. But the Russian River, which runs through the valley, creates cooler pockets and its soft, alluvial soil is ideal for grape growing, especially Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, some believe that Alexander Valley Cabernets truly rival the best from Napa Valley and many of the heavy-hitter producers have largely invested here.
In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon, which makes up over 50% of plantings, Merlot and old vine Zinfandel thrive here. Ample, fleshy Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc dominate white wine production. Some old-vine plantings of Grenache have also been discovered and more recent experiments with Sangiovese and Barbera show great promise.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.