I recently found a relatively new grass roots wine shop/loft in LA named the Redd Collection, founded by two friends who met while working at Wally's in the 90's. They're doing themed tastings once a week on Friday/Saturday, and this weekend featured a tasting of Ridge Zinfandel's from 1973, 91, 92, 94, and 95. How could I pass this up? Luckily, I didn't. There's also an Outpost Zinfandel Howell Mountain vertical next weekend, which hopefully I'm able to make as well.
Few of these wines are found on retail shelves anymore, though I've seen some of the 90's Geyserville's around at a shop or two. Like many verticals featuring older wines, the main draw is a glimpse at history.
1973 Ridge Occidental Zinfandel - (12.7% Alcohol)
Nose: Featured some port drenched red cherries, sulphur, tobacco. Like an old factory. Palate: Light in weight, not much fruit left, some good acid, steel, almost rust-like. Drinkable and interesting, though more of an anti-hedonist's delight. Finish: Not much
1973 Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel - (14.3% Alcohol)
Nose: More fruit on the nose, some oak, iodine. Palate: Light red cherry, raspberry, cleaner and slightly more pronounced fruit and sweetness. Again, not much on the finish.
1991 Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel - (14.3% Alcohol, 50% Zin, 30% Carignan, 20% Petite Sirah)
Nose: Deep, dark berries, sour sour cherry. Hard stone, steel-like palate, tons of acid, some lingering cherry fruit, but clearly fading. Also, some floral elements to this. And finally, a little persistence on the finish.
1992 Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel - (13.9% Alcohol, 65% Zin, 20% Carignan, 15% Petite Sirah)
Nose: Plush(er) fruit, musky aromatics. Palate: Some residue of tannin, rounder red fruits, this is the first wine to provide some luxury and pleasure. Finish has some persistence, though not quite as much as 1991.
1994 Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel - (14.3% Alcohol, 68% Zinfandel, 20% Carignan, 8% Petite Sirah, 4% Mataro)
This wine in a lot of ways showed as a very typical Geyserville but with a little bit of Mataro in the blend, I was curious to see if any new flavors would jump out. Reticent nose, some spice on the palate, sour cherries. Some oak showing on a mellow, shorter finish. At 4%, the Mataro matters little, but maybe it helped with that spice component I didn't get with the previous years.
http://www.vinfolio.com/do/marketpl...">1995 Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel - (14.2% Alcohol, 62% Zinfandel, 18% Petite Sirah, 15% Carignan, 5% Mataro
The 95' probably had the best showing, the fruit (tart cherry, raspberry, bramble) had some potency to it but it also showed very good freshness and elegance...also showed a fuller finish, really resolved well with good persistence. Would be a great bottle to sit with and contemplate for a while, but unfortunately wine-searcher knows of no way to find this, except for a retailer in Germany.
Ridge Geyserville Vertical
- Reply by outthere, Aug 4, 2012.
Living large JD!
- Reply by EMark, Aug 4, 2012.
I am so jealous.
We grilled a sirloin steak for dinner tonight, and I had a an urge for Zinfandel. (Grilled Beef? Zinfandel? How can that not be great?) I narrowed down my choice to the 2009 Ridge Lytton Springs and the 2009 Ridge Geyserville. I picked the Lytton Springs for two reasons: (1) I am a Lytton Springs bigot, and (2) I have two more bottles of LS in the vault.
However, 2009 Zinfandel cannot compare to well aged Zinfandel. The other two bottles of LS will remain in the vault for many more years.
The 2009 Lytton Springs is out standing, but I am still jealous.
- Reply by Erica Landin, Aug 5, 2012.
I love Ridge. Seriously love Ridge. It is by far my favorite US producer. Ans I agree with EMARK, I'm jealous and I love well aged Ridge Zin. Unfortunately, I don't have more than one bottle in my vault, and it is staying there. Had an excellent tasting at Ridge with Paul Draper in January though, and am excited about the 2011 Geyserville Zin.
Feel free to have a look at the blog post I wrote after the lunch with Paul here:
- Reply by gregt, Aug 5, 2012.
Nice Jon. I can see why the 95 stole the show. Unfortunately I don't have any left, but I have about a case of the Lytton 95, so I'm happy enough I guess. I try it every year, but haven't loved the more recent vintages for some reason. However, a GREAT bargain is the Three Valleys. Several times now I've had that in blind tastings and picked it over the single vineyard wines. Made me look at it with new appreciation.
Great store you found - not many proprietors would do tastings like that. I'd definitely go to the Outpost event too. And I'd keep in touch with that store.
- Reply by JonDerry, Aug 5, 2012.
Mark - Definitely get on the mailing list for this place (Redd Collection), and hopefully you'll be able to make some of these weekly tastings. The last couple 08', 09' Lytton Springs seem pretty crowd pleasing and drinkable right now, so I think you made a good call last night. Recently served a Mag at a birthday party of the 08' and everyone was happy. Having said that, I tried a bottle of 09' Geyserville late last year and it didn't go over so well. Good wine, but it was huge, bulky, and disjointed. Really only one of a handful of times I've ever drank a CA wine too early.
Erica - It's amazing how universally well loved Ridge is among critics, wine eccentrics, and the general public. You were so lucky to get all that time with Paul, wow, and to taste 2010 barrel samples with insights on 2011 also sounds interesting. In my own recent visit to Ridge my business partner and I split a bottle of the 1995 Monte Bello, and results were mixed. He loved it, while I thought it was certainly very good, but I also didn't feel it was anything great. Would agree it has the acidity to live on, but I might just prefer the 95' Geyserville. Get your hands on some if possible so we can settle this!
Greg - Things are definitely looking up now after finding this place. I'm definitely going to support it as much as possible, since I can only imagine how tough it will be for them. Right now their stock is 80% lesser known collectibles, and their multi-case wines that they have out are mostly $10 - 15 bargain wines, including some 2000-1 Rioja's. I'll have to go back and check what bodegas. But anyway, there's a lot of empty space there which is great for ambiance but makes me worry about their sustainability. Luckily, there seems to be a budding clientele already and they have a great space for parties/events that should help.
Maybe when the weather cools down we can swap some wine, would love to try on of those 95' Lytton Springs. Any particular Three Valleys vintages you recommend?
- Reply by EMark, Aug 6, 2012.
Jon, Done. I've sent a request to Michael @ ReddCollection. We seem to keep having family responsibilities that suck up a lot of our time, but it would be good to know what is coming up so that I could possibly re-prioritize.
If the "09 Geyserville needs a few years, maybe I should move it to the back of the vault.
I was looking at my inventory and noticed I have a Mag of the '95 Lytton Springs. Have to find a festive occassion for that one. The other one that looks hopeful is a single bottle of '91.
A couple years ago I had a '93 L.S. that was possibly one of the most ethereal wine experiences that I have ever had.
- Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Aug 6, 2012.
Shazaam! I love those older ridges. They usually improve with air, so you might want to keep that in mind. I've got a couple of cases dating back to 1979 that are not getting any better. I've got to go pull them out of the cellar and get my ridge Vertical on.
Nice notes on what looks like a really fun tasting. Thanks for sharing them.
Anybody remember the old Lytton Springs Lytton Springs? Damn those were fine Zins, just finished my last 85 and 86 last year and they were rocking.
I do love me some Zinfandel.
- Reply by JonDerry, Aug 6, 2012.
Was thinking about air time myself, but with their system and the whole time schedule (they gave me just one glass), I only spent 5+ minutes with each wine.
I was also tasting on the 2nd day of the tasting, but they were all preserved by getting the oxygen out and replacing it with argon? gas. Their system for preserving freshness between their two days of tasting seemed pretty state-of-the-art, and when I asked about the enomatic wine systems, they kind of joked at how poor those can be, "impersonal" was the word they chose.
- Reply by EMark, Aug 6, 2012.
YES, Greg, I do remember the Lytton Springs label from the 80s. Outstanding wine. That was probably the wine that made me a Zin Fan. I loved the label with the grape bunches.
I also remember traveling in my little RX-7 down Lytton Springs Rd. some time during the '80s looking for their tasting room. We found the vineyard and pulled in up to what I can best described as a very large aluminum shed. It appeared that we were OK. So, we parked and stuck our heads in. There were two guys working at whatever winery/vineyard guys do in a large metal shed. Once they saw us, though, they were super. Sure enough, this was, in addition to being a large metal shed, a tasting room. They climbed down, walked us over to a barrel standing on end, produced some glasses, and let us taste. I bought a couple of bottles and have been a zealous proselyte ever since.
The Lytton Springs vineyard is owned by Ridge, isn't it? Do you know how long this has been the case? I also recall a few years ago seeing a bottle of Ridge Lytton Springs from the 70s which would antedate my first experiences. I checked at my electronic inventory, and it looks like I had samples of "non Ridge" Lytton Springs from '91, '92 and '94. I drank the last one ('94) in 2007, and I, in fact, remember that it was excellent. I know that Lyttton Springs fruit was bottled under the Ridge label in those same years. I really wish I still had one of those '91s to try next to the '91 Ridge version that I know I still have. I'm pretty sure I still have my old paper inventory that I used prior. That would tell me which of the '80s decade I tried.
- Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 7, 2012.
I remember the Lytton Springs label, too. It just kind of up and disappeared.
EMark, that metal shed is still a common enough thing in DCV. Talty's "tasting room" is a little nicer than a shed, but it's really just the barrel room--and pretty chilly as a result. Teldeschi's tasting room is like that, too. And Porter Creek's is a really small tin shed--about as rustic as it gets.
I love Amity up in Oregon--Myron Redford won't build anything fancy, just a little space open to the elements in the end of one of his barns and the bathroom is across the way in the same trailer that houses the office. Probably why he can sell his high-end SVD Pinots for $35 and his really good entry level Pinot Noir for $17 or so. But I wouldn't want to go tasting there when it was raining or blustery and cold.
Nice to see so many people appreciating well-made Zin. Draper should get a lot of credit for paving the way for Turley, Outpost, Carlisle, Mauritson, Talty, and so many others who are raising the bar for the grape. Now to convince the rest of the world... or do I really want to share so much?