Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Almost complete Ridge Geyserville vertical - part 3

The third part of the Geyserville retrospective featured the vintages from 1988 through 1995. The group was joined by a special guest - Eric Baugher, assistant winemaker at Monte Bello. He joined Ridge in 1994 and so had worked on three of the vintages that we tasted.

It quickly became evident that the eight wines poured were all remarkably consistent. There were no Late Harvest outliers, no tired vintages, no flawed wines. What we got were eight superb examples of rich, well crafted wines which evolved and blossomed in the glass. Trying to choose between them was futile; each had its charm and every one was a delight. In the end the tasters submitted their rankings, but the final results were so close that the differences were statistically insignificant.

1988 Ridge Geyserville (82% Zinfandel, 5% Petite Sirah, 13% Carignan) 
The nose was dusty and oaky; at first I thought I got a whiff of cork taint, but it didn't persist. The palate showed tart raspberry and ham; I ranked it towards the end but it finished 2nd overall.

1989 Ridge Geyserville (75% Zinfandel, 22% Petite Sirah, 3% Carignan)
Complex nose showing soy sauce, meat, smoke and dried herbs. Nice raspberry flavours, with smoky oak and a rich, long finish, becoming more earthy with time. I really liked it; it finished 3rd overall. 

1990 Ridge Geyserville (64% Zinfandel, 18% Petite Sirah, 18% Carignan)
Compared to some of the others the nose on this was faint; notes of bramble and camp fire. Flavours of waffles, liquorice and bramble, with tannins that had softened with time but were still very evident. A youthful wine perhaps not yet at its peak. Finished 4th.

1991 Ridge Geyserville (50% Zinfandel, 20% Petite Sirah, 30% Carignan)
Initially the nose seemed musty, with ripe fruit and wood emerging with time. Plenty of sweet loganberry, perhaps a touch more residual sugar than the rest. It finished 8th, despite being Eric's first choice.

1992 Ridge Geyserville (65% Zinfandel, 15% Petite Sirah, 20% Carignan)
Opening with fresh earth and dark raspberry, an unusual camphor note developed with air. On the palate it showed opulent raspberry fruit; the Petite Sirah seemed particularly evident in the blend. Nicely balanced with light tannins it was the overall first choice.

1993 Ridge Geyserville (60% Zinfandel, 12% Petite Sirah, 22% Carignan, 2% Mataro, 4% Alicante Bouschet)
Deep nose of berry, cigar and orange peel; lots of black fruit - boysenberry, bramble and currant. Some tannin evident on the finish. 5th place.
1994 Ridge Geyserville (68% Zinfandel, 8% Petite Sirah, 20% Carignan, 4% Mataro)
Nose showed tart cranberry; flavours of raspberry and oak. Seemed a lighter, simpler example of the style. Overall 6th.
1995 Ridge Geyserville (62% Zinfandel, 18% Petite Sirah, 15% Carignan, 5% Mataro) 
At first the nose showed berry and smoke, but a savoury shiitake mushroom note soon developed. In the mouth there was lots of black fruit, particularly black cherry, and more of that savoury mushroom. One of my top three, it finished 7th.

As I said at the outset, there wasn't much to separate these wines. The results reflected that; for every person that had a wine as their first choice another had put it as their last. This is testament to the overall quality; averaging 20 years old not one was fading or flawed. from the previous tastings only the 1980 and 1987 could have held their own; the 1968, 1977 and 1978 from the first tasting would clearly have been outliers.
At some stage there will be two further flights, covering the vintages from 1996 to the present; I hope to attend those too and will report back.