After relating our less than enthusiastic impressions of the ultra – ripe and sweet 2002 Ridge Pagani and Geyserville to Alan Kerr aka Canadian Zinfan, I decided to open a couple of 2000s with him, just to see how they were coming along, and considering what we found, perhaps my qualification that we should reserve our judgment on those ‘02s for a few years was correct.
2000 Ridge Lytton Springs, 80% Zinfandel, 20% Petite Sirah, $30, 14.8% alc.: Alan’s first impression of this dark garnet blend was, “You’re right, this IS sweet.” But while it’s slightly overripe, it’s not excessively so, and although tight at first, it opens to show more Draper perfume in the way of creamy smooth raspberry, black raspberry, some blueberry and overtones of lilac. Allan uttered impressions of blackberry, toffee, caramel, milk chocolate, a little mineral and iron, adding that some “dusty tannins were the only thing that’s retarding it.” To me, those tannins are silky, showing mainly on the finish, and combined with the balanced acidity, bode well for at least a few years of further improvement, but make no mistake, this is a pleasure to drink right now.
2000 Ridge Geyserville, 66% Zinfandel, 17% Carignane, 17% Petite Sirah, $30, 14.9% alc.: Dense dark garnet in color, this shows less of the signature Ridge aromatics than it did when we first tasted it, and it only gives some of the cream found in the 2000 Lytton Springs after it’s had some aeration. Alan described it as “so much more fruit driven without the sweetness” of the LS, and in fact it has that classic Geyserville claret – like character, with earthy blackberry, black raspberry accented with a bit of the bramble fruit that we so miss in most Zinfandels these days. Although it opens dramatically with air, this is a deep wine that shows none of the ripe qualities of the current model, and needs three to five years minimum to begin to show its best. While it may not be the greatest example of what Geyserville is all about, it’s a fine Geyserville nevertheless.
Happily, we have more than a few of each of these to open during the coming years (as is the case with the following selections), so we’re all set on that account. Fast forward a week with Shar Douglas and Ken Heibenstriet; we’d already had a few nice bottles when I got it into my head that we should see how the ’99 models were faring, so I descended to the cellar from heck and returned with the following numbers.
1999 Ridge Geyserville, 68% Zinfandel, 16% Petite Sirah, 16% Carignane, $30, 14.8% alc.: Kim got “a ton of coconut and dill” from her first few whiffs of this deep, dark garnet Geezer, and as it opened, she amended her impressions to “toasty coconut, like a macaroon.” I get a rather different take on this, finding big barnyard over Draper perfume in the way of bubblegum, raspberry, blackberry and yes, a little coconut. Fairly earthy, and yet creamy smooth in the mouth, where it emphasizes the darker berries, this opens to show more Draper perfume, some bramble and briar, root beer and a hint of chocolate; the more it opens, the more appealing it becomes. Still it’s pretty tannic, needing five years to really show its best, but it has all the stuffing to go the distance, so patience will be rewarded.
1999 Ridge Lytton Springs, 70% Zinfandel, 17% Petite Sirah, 10% Carignane, 3% Mataro, $30, 14.5% alc: This is perhaps the darkest Lytton Springs I can ever remember having, and I don’t just mean the color, even though it’s almost opaque in its density of purple and garnet. It shows tight black fruit right out of the bottle, with the Draper perfume taking a backseat to the earthy, slightly tarry black fruit, all dark berries and black plums and currants. The fruit sweetens as it opens, becoming more taster friendly, and successive sips coat the mouth for what seems like minutes. It’s very much like the ’99 Geezer in that it needs some serious time, probably as much as five years, and I’d be hard pressed to name a better Lytton Springs going back to at least the 1990 version, but be warned, this is still more a wine of promise than of fully realized greatness.
Reporting from Day-twah,