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Ridge Geyserville

by Stephen Pickles, 2004

Ridge Geyserville 2001
74% Zinfandel, 18% Carignan, 8% Petite Sirah. 14% alcohol. 25% new oak. Very dark. Solid coconut wood & very rich dark cherry nose. Big in the mouth, smooth, fine tannins. Fruit a little subdued by tannin and oak at the moment. Vg+

Ridge Geyserville 2000
66% Zinfandel, 17% Petite Sirah, 17% Carignan. 14.5% alcohol. 25% new oak. Very Dark. Still quite oaky on the nose, with bitter cherries. On the palate more bitter cherries, less wood. Quite different tannin quality here: rougher, more burly and rustic. Still makes Vg+

Ridge Geyserville1999
68% Zinfandel, 16% Petite Sirah, 16% Carignan. 14.5% alcohol. 25% new oak. Black. Very intense coconut & Morello cherry nose is very fine. Still very primary on the palate with cherry and tar, and fruit under quite firm, fine tannins. The best so far Vg+ to Ex . Voted flight winner.

Ridge Geyserville1998
75% Zinfandel. 14% alcohol. 23% new oak. Lighter. Cherry & more subdued coconut nose. On the palate it has lighter fruit, cherry, and not as concentrated as the others. Still Vg.

Ridge Geyserville1997
75% Zinfandel. 14.5% alcohol. Slightly lighter than previous wines?. A touch of Volatile Acidity, cherry & coconut on the nose. The palate is full, with fine fruit: sweet strawberry and cherry. Starting to show more development now, and lots of interest. Vg+ to Ex.

Ridge Geyserville1996
75% Zinfandel. 14.5% alcohol. 22% new oak. Cheesey feet? Tannins and dead fruit. Not rated - duff bottle.

Ridge Geyserville1995
62% Zinfandel. 14.5% alcohol. Still dark! Touch of brett, then cassis & cherry fruit on nose .Still quite tannic but there seems more of an acid kick here. Good fruit: cherry , but simpler than 1997 at the moment. Vg+ to Ex, and voted winner of flight.

Ridge Geyserville1994
68% Zinfandel, 20% Carignan, 8% Petite Sirah, 4% Mataro (Mourvedre). 14.3% alcohol. Dark. Quite poopy & leathery nose - stawberry fruit below. Slightly dried out - or is it just more brett? Fine tannins, still sweet fruit & some spice and interesting, but very bretty. Vg.

Ridge Geyserville 1992
Zinfandel-Carignan blend. 13.5% alcohol. Finally a slight fade to rim. Rich fruit, cherry & chocolate nose. Rich, dense fruit on palate with good chocolatey tannins. Really appealing sweet fruit here .Vg+ to Ex.

Ridge Geyserville1991
50% Zinfandel, 30% Carignan, 20% Petite Sirah. 13.5% alcohol. Touch of VA. Cool bramble fruit on the nose gives a very classy quality - not in your face. Sweet, big, spicy strawberry and bramble palate, with full smooth tannins. Long & fine. Ex, this was the flight winner by a big majority.

Ridge Geyserville1990
64% Zinfandel, 18% Petite Sirah, 18% Carignan. 14% alcohol. This was dark. I felt it was overripe and a jammy on the nose. Fine tannins and a good finish, but an element of lollipop to the fruit - completely outclassed by 91 .Vg.

Ridge Geyserville1988
82% Zinfandel, 13% Carignan, 5% Petite Sirah. 13.9% alcohol. Funky nose, with leather & red fruits. Fine strawberry fuit on palate - fine tannins, a touch of heat on the finish. Vg+

Ridge Geyserville1987
88% Zinfandel, 8% Carignan, 4% Petite Sirah. 13.7% alcohol. Corked - very sad.

Ridge Geyserville1986
84% Zinfandel, 10% Petite Sirah, 6% Carignan. 13.2% alcohol. Still good colour.Touch of VA. The fruit seemed a little flat on the nose. Fine tannins & cherry on the palate - good balance and interest but a little tired? Vg.

Ridge Geyserville1985
85% Zinfandel, 10% Petite Sirah, 5% Carignan. 13.3% alcohol. Strange dried cherry /cough pastille nose. Good smoky fruit on palate - good, fine tannins and balance - long finish. Vg+ to Ex.

Ridge Geyserville1984
90% Zinfandel, 10% Petite Sirah. 13.4% alcohol. Brett & cherry nose. Light red fruits on nose, though slightly faded & dried. Still very tannic. Good +

Ridge Geyserville1974
13.9% alcohol. Finally browning now. Some volatillity - but interesting spicy clove nose, with Christmas cake & fine spicy cherry and raisin fruit palate. Long and fine, and really drinking well now. Ex.

Ridge Geyserville1970
15.6% alcohol! Brown. Sous bois, mushroomy nose. Faded fruit; spicy chery. On downward slope - drink now - still rates a VG for interest.

Ridge Zinfandel Essence 1991
13.9% alcohol. Black. A vollatile, Porty nose - slightly oxidised? It has a real flavour to me of the LBV Port style, but it only saw a year in barrel. Medium body and sweet in style of an LBV, with brambly primary fruit and, dissapointingly, very lilttle development in 13 years! Good + (seemed expensive for the quality - cost more than most single quinta ports).

It is 10:36pm, and we have done it all in just over three and a half hours thanks to David's excellent organisation, and the restaurants level of service and timing. The Ridge had really shown well. Good vintage variation, but a consistency of style - should the Terroir word be mentioned here? - and a lot of interest created by the differing blend over the years. Some of these wines had a level of elegance about them (the 95, 91 and 74). They were also food friendly - I think many would have shown better with food. The ageability is difficult to judge: the 74 was still drinking well, and the 91 was a real star for me, just hitting its stride. The young wines are massive, but don't suffer from over-extraction/overconcentration. On this evidence they will mature well.

The other point is the value these wines represent: at around the £25 mark they put so many other Californian wines in the shade, and certainly maintain their iconic staus for me.

  When David Pope, one of the stalwart members of the UK Wine Forum recently put together an astonishing vertical collection of the renowned "Geyserville" from Ridge Vineyards for tasting, I was very disappointed not to be able to make it along. However when I heard that Stephen Pickles was making the journey from Scotland to London to attend, I asked him to document the event and compile a report for publication on wine-pages. My thanks to Stephen (left) for this report.