Geyserville, 2014

  Ridge Vineyards

Just 3Km north of Lytton Springs, Ridge Geyserville is a very different proposition. Here the 2014 vintage is marked by an unusually high percentage of Carignan, up to 22% of the blend, against a norm of around 15%, the remainder being 60% Zinfandel (most of which is 100+ year old vines), 12% Petite Syrah, and 4% Alicante Bouschet. Stylistically this is far more blueberry & cassis in character with a denser, more structured and textural character, an extra zip of acidity and ripe, highly expressive luscious fruit dominating the finish. A fascinating counterpoint to the Lytton Springs.

Contains Sulphites.

About Ridge Vineyards

The history begins in 1885, when Osea Perrone, a doctor, bought 180 acres near the top of Monte Bello Ridge, producing the first vintage under Ridge Vineyard’s name in 1892. Ridge relies on nature and tradition rather than technology. The viticulture is sustainable, almost entirely organic and avoid additions in the wine-making as much as possible. There is no mechanical processing except for gentle filtration at bottling and traditional desteming and pressing. Their approach is straightforward: find intense, flavourful grapes; intrude upon the process only when necessary; draw the fruit's distinctive character and richness into the wine. (www.ridgewine.com)

Appellation: Sonoma

The Sonoma Coast appellation is the largest licensed American Viticultural Area (AVA) in the United States covering more than 200,000 hectares of land. In other words, it is enormous. To give you an idea of how enormous, Rioja has just over 60,000 hectares under vine. Naturally this makes drawing generalised conclusions about site specificity for the region pretty much impossible.

As a result, smaller unofficial designations are starting to gain traction – describing regions that have some contiguous factors and, leaving winemaking styles to one side, are likely to imbue the final wines with a recognisable sense of place. One such, is the “True Sonoma Coast”, used to describe the vineyards that “actually lie along the coast of Sonoma County!” As Andy Peay goes on, “This means that the afternoon breeze that comes in every day around noon cools vineyards unobstructed by higher western coastal ridges keeping top temperatures out of the 90s and, for those in the cool inversion layer below 1,000 feet, out of the 80s. The breezes and cool weather also often inhibit fruit set and a consequence of farming on the coast is that the yields are about half of what you can get inland.

This “true” Sonoma Coast can be further divided into three regions: the northern region around the town of Annapolis off Sea Ranch; the central region with the oldest vineyards on the coast now referred to by some as Fort Ross/Seaview Road; and the southern region near the town of Occidental. Peay Vineyards was a pioneer in the far northern section. We are discovering, however, that a critical factor for both vineyards in the northern and for those in the southern Sonoma Coast, is our elevation.

Our vineyard lies at 650-825 feet in elevation. Normally, temperatures fall by 1°F for every 400 foot gain in elevation. Along the Pacific Coast, this phenomenon is inverted as a layer of cold air ‹the inversion layer‹ is produced by a warm, less dense air mass moving towards the coast over the cooler, denser air caused by oceanic upwelling along the coast. This layer is maintained throughout the day and the breezes off the coast act as a fan blowing cold air along unobstructed land laying from sea level to 1,000 feet in elevation. Above this height, as in the central Sonoma Coast, and further inland, the normal relationship between temperature and elevation apply and it is hotter. Vineyards in this inversion layer are much cooler and as a result we achieve the Holy Grail in terms of high quality grape growing: cool sunlight.”

Grape Type: Zinfandel

Most recognised as a Californian varietal, Zinfandel is actually of Croatian origin and has been found to be the same as Italy's Primativo. Initially dominating Californian wine production in the late 19th Century, being a high yielding varietal, Zinfandel was largely grubbed up and replaced by Cabernet in the mid to late 20th Century. The commercial popularity of the off-dry rosé White Zinfandel has rejuvenated the plantings and though the varietal can sometimes be high in alcohol, there are some excellent examples available, including the excellent Heitz Cellars.