Ridge Geyserville 2018
Pairs well with Brazilian spiced turkey or North Carolina pulled pork.
Blend: 68% Zinfandel, 20% Carignane, 10% Petite Sirah, 2% Alicante Bouschet
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
A wine that always delivers, the 2018 Geyserville from Ridge comes all from a single vineyard in the Alexander Valley and checks in as 68% Zinfandel, 20% Carignane, 10% Petite Sirah, and the rest Alicante Bouschet. It has a big, cedary bouquet of red and black plums, sandalwood, potpourri, and Asian spices that develops and fills out nicely with time in the glass. This carries to a more medium-bodied Zinfandel that has wonderful purity of fruit, present yet ripe tannins, flawless balance, and a great, great finish. This structured yet ethereal example of this cuvée ranks with the finest vintages to date. Drink it any time over the coming 10-15 years.
The 2018 Geyserville is an infant. That much is obvious, especially in this lineup of otherwise more settled 2018s. Ripe Zinfandel flavors drive the overall profile. A blast of wild cherry, leather, tobacco, smoke, licorice, menthol and spice hit the palate first, followed by swaths of tannin and a touch of new oak that suggest the wine still needs time to come together. Readers should be in no rush. I am not sure the 2018 will ever be truly refined, as it is quite burly today. Aeration helps to some degree. The fermentations at Geyserville were slow to start and slow to finish. That longer time of extraction comes through in potent tannins that will likely always mark the wine. Rating : 94+
68% Zinfandel; 20% Carignane; 10% Petite Sirah; 2% Alicante Bouschet. Ridge’s iconic Geyserville bottlings are always rich and complex wines that stray a bit from the Zinfandel norm, and the latest, as usual, is a deep and substantial, near-brooding offering whose ample dark berry fruit is laced with lots of distinct earthy spice and is up to the task of fighting through no small measure of tannins. Sure to be long-lived and, in fact, emphatically asking for age, the 2018 version is years away from coming fully into its own and should be laid away in the hard-to-reach realms of the cellar for a full half-decade or more.
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.