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Ridge Geyserville 2018

Ridge Geyserville 2018

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"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. Drinking window: 2026-2033. 94+ points

I tasted more wines than ever at Ridge this year. Not that I am complaining, as this collection is jam-packed with fabulous wines that will delight Ridge fans. Mild weather with no heat spikes created conditions for even ripening in 2018. As I have already written previously, 2018 is an absolutely magical vintage for Sonoma County. The 2018 Zinfandel and Zinfandel-based wines are off the charts gorgeous, with a level of purity I am not sure I have seen before. In the Santa Cruz Mountains, 2018 yielded wines that are gracious and silky, but also a bit restrained. Ridge’s 2017s are shaping up to be magnificent. It was a cold, wet year for much of the growing season. Whereas some regions in California struggled under the Labor Day heat spikes, Ridge really needed that final burst of heat to get ripe. The 2017s, the reds in particular, are breathtaking. Lastly, the 2019 Monte Bello is a wonderfully suggestive wine. Will all the 2019s be as compelling?"

Antonio Galloni, Vinous (09/20)


In case you are not already familiar with Ridge's emblematic wines, the main production is red, focusing on Zinfandel. Way back in the early 1960s, they produced some of the first old-vine, single-vineyard Zinfandel to appear on the market: in fact, the philosophy of this estate owes a great deal to  European views of terroir and was, therefore, very forward-looking for California.

The contrast between Lytton Springs and Geyserville is marked and profound, especially considering that the vineyards are just one mile apart! Lytton is generally the more unyielding and tannic whereas Geyserville is succulent and approachable. This difference is down to terroir and the fact that Geyserville contains more Carignan in the blend, which contributes to the warm fruit quality. Lytton, on the other hand, although also predominantly Zinfandel, has a higher proportion of Petite Sirah. What is interesting too is the fact that Carignan does not flourish in the Lytton vineyard and never has done: the Geyserville vineyards, though further North, are warmer and this favours Carignan. The flagship wine, Monte Bello (produced from vines grown on the Monte Bello ridge (see above) - too cool for Zinfandel but perfect for the more architectural Bordeaux varieties) is a Bordeaux field blend with at least thirty parcels harvested and vinified separately before blending. 

Ridge's wines also epitomise the positive value of history, the importance of consistency and the constant search for improvement by the fine-tuning of the relationship between the art and science of winemaking. Paul Draper, the iconic CEO, has been making wine here since 1969 when he was invited to join by the four founders. Eric Baugher, who has a background in microbiology and biochemistry and who now oversees production, has been there since 1994. John Olney, who is responsible for Lytton Springs, joined in 1996 and David Gates, who is in charge of vineyard operations, in 1989. In January 1987, Ridge was sold to a Japanese pharmaceutical company, Otsuka, but, as Antonio Galloni said, the wines have gone from strength to strength and any change in financial control has not resulted in quality being compromised. On the contrary, these wines represent excellent value for money and we cannot recommend them highly enough.