2017 Ridge Zinfandel Geyserville

Year: 2017
Appellation: Alexander Valley, Sonoma County
Country: USA - California
Wine Spectator: 91
Wine Advocate: 94
Vinous Media: 92+
Connoisseurs' Guide: 91
James Suckling: 93
Jeb Dunnuck: 91
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 14.5%
Price :
$37.95
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"Tightly focused yet expressive, with floral cherry, smoky dill and black pepper flavors that linger toward briary tannins. Zinfandel, Carignane, Petite Sirah and Alicante Bouschet. Drink now through 2025. 9,500 cases made. -TF" (WS)

"The 2017 Geyserville is a blend of 68% Zinfandel, 18% Carignane, 12% Petite Sirah and 2% Alicante Bouschet, aged 14 months in American oak, 16% new. Medium ruby, it opens with lilac, chocolate box and stone fruit hints with warm blackcurrants, red and black cherries, cranberries, cedar, tobacco leaf and dusty earth. Medium to full-bodied, it opens slowly in the mouth to pure fruits supported by fine, chalky tannins and integrated freshness on the very long finish. This is wound tight but has loads of potential and will require at least another few years in bottle.

Eric Baugher says winter rains saved the vines during the heat wave in 2017. “It was a wetter year,” he remembers, “and the vines had a chance to use those water resources through the growing season. So it was a slower, more steady progression toward ripeness. It got hot during Labor Day, but the vines got through fine because there was so much water in the soil.” Alcohols were a bit lower this vintage, and Baugher has been focused on bringing down overall levels. “We’ve been disciplined about picking earlier,” he comments, noting that in 2017 most of the fruit was off the vine before the heat. “By Labor Day all the fruit at Geyserville was in,” he says. “Carignan and Petite Sirah came in after the heat but didn’t show signs of over-ripening. Carignan thrives in the heat and isn’t susceptible to shrivel, so every drop went into the Geyserville blend this year.”

Baugher is optimistic about quality in 2018. “In 2018 we slipped back to drought. There was no rain in January or February at all. It was unusually dry, and we were pushing budbreak. Then it got really cold in March and April, and things stalled out again. The summer was nice with even temperatures, no heat spikes. We ended up with good weather at bloom and about average yields.” Uniform ripeness was a hallmark of the vintage for Baugher. “2018 had much more uniform ripening, which leads to a more complete, sensuous expression,” he says. “The Zinfandels have deep flavors and a quality of tannins I don’t see every year with that grape. They are just woven in with the fruit, creating a complete wine with great length and great vineyard expression as well. All the 2018s speak of place, and it’s a trick to get that to happen with Zinfandel. It has the tendency to overripen, and that puts a lid on vineyard expression. 2013 is another great example of a perfectly ripe vintage. It happens twice a decade, if we’re lucky.”

Baugher is excited about the 2018 Monte Bello, which I tasted from barrel. “For me, great vintages of Monte Bello are when all four varieties are included,” he explains. “There are 45 plots within Monte Bello. We grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, in that order. They’re fermented and go to barrel separately. For blending, everything is tasted blind. We’re looking at aromatics, texture and complexity, not grape variety. We look at the grape percentages after assemblage is finished. The years that are special are the years all four grapes make it into the blend, because the conditions in the vineyard have to be perfect.” The 2018 is a blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 11% Petite Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. While still very primary, it’s showing plenty of nuance and complexity already, and I look forward to tasting it again from bottle." (WA)

"The 2017 Zinfandel Geyserville exudes energy, but it is also very tight and closed in on itself. Time in the glass helps the wine open up, but only to a limited extent. Pretty scents of leather, savory herbs, spice and earthiness hint at what is to come. Readers should plan on being patient, but Ridge lovers know that. In most years, Geyserville starts hitting its stride around age ten." (VM)

"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. Reviewed: July 2019" (CG)

"A soft and delicious red with aromas and flavors of blueberries, light chocolate and walnuts. Medium to full body, round tannins and a flavorful finish. 68% zinfandel, 18% carignan, 12% petite sirah and 2% alicante bouschet. Drink now." (JS)

"The 2017 Geyserville is a more pretty, streamlined example of this cuvée and offers plenty of spiced blue fruits, violets, cedarwood, and flowery incense. Medium-bodied, nicely concentrated, with firm focusing tannins, it's a departure from some of the richer, more opulent examples of this cuvée yet is beautifully balanced, has integrated acidity and tannins, and a great finish." (JD)

Winery Notes:
Dark ruby color. Aromas of ripe black cherries and plum, sweet oak, mint, and gravel earth. Rich bramble fruit entry, round and supple tannins, refreshing acidity, and layered complex fruits in a long finish. EB (12/18)