Words and Images:
 George Heritier
and Kim Adams 

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Geyserville Friday Night 

Pam and Jeff Gillikin

The Friday night's Geyserville wine dinner was a relatively small affair, attended mostly by the usual suspects. On hand were the Gang of Cleve, ¾ of the Gang of Pour (Kim Adams, Alan Kerr and this taster), Bob "Ice Cream Man" Graeter and Jon "Big Dog" Cook, who, besides wearing at least a few other hats, is now the assistant winemaker at Thunder Mountain. We wasted little time beyond fond greetings, and set about getting right to the vinous delights, starting with two German rieslings. 

2002 Dr. Loosen Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Kabinett, 7.5% alc.: Pale straw, this features clean green apple, with hints of wet stone and soft herbal overtones on the nose; these carry over onto the palate with fruity sweetness and plenty of mineral underneath. There's good acidity here, and a long finish. I'd like to taste this a few years down the road, when it's gained some complexity.

2001 Max Ferd. Richter Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese, 8% alc.: Another pale straw with a very stingy nose, this shows bee's wax over green apple flavors shaded with soft herbal undertones and some sweetness, along with good, if not zippy acidity, and a nice finish.

I liked both of these, but where's the petrol? I know, they both need time.

Peyre Rose Clos Syrah Léone Coteaux du 
1996 Peyre Rose Clos Syrah Léone Coteaux du Languedoc, 14.3% alc.: At first, I thought that this was one of our friend Sam Leone's home grown efforts, but a closer look at the label proved it to be one of them "long docks," and a relatively young one at that. It's showing black fruit, black olive and just a little funk on the nose; Alan Kerr described the latter element as "mossy wood." The flavors echo, and as it opens and broadens with air, a bacon note really comes out, but this is still a tight wine, with significant tannins that clamp down on the finish, and plenty of acidity. The best years are still ahead of this puppy, so try it in about 2008. 

1992 Ridge Evangelo Mataro, 95% Mataro, 5% Alicante, 13.6% alc.: I was not that impressed with this when I tried it several years ago, and the reason was probably that it was just too young, because it's showing really well right now. There's just a hint of rust to the deep dark garnet color, with nice Draper perfume over red currant, black cherry and just a hint of that ol' barnyard. It's a little earthy on the palate, but otherwise, the rich, smooth flavors show the same pretty character as the bouquet, with some tannins still to shed, and enough acidity to keep it moving along. Very nice. 

1987 Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel, 88% Zinfandel, 4% Petite Sirah, 8% Carignane, 13.7% alc.: We've been drinking this one all summer, and I almost wondered if it isn't starting to turn the corner with my first pour. It's pretty consistent with what it's shown over the past five months or so, with the addition of some licorice, pepper and a little sea air. Larry commented that it isn't quite as long on the finish as it was a few weeks ago at MoCool, and Alan also mentioned that it seemed to be "just falling off a bit on the finish," adding an impression of aquarium. However, I came back to this a few hours later, and it had blossomed beautifully, gaining rich, lovely character, and taking its place with the best wines of the night. 

Geezers1990 Ridge Geyserville, 64% Zinfandel, 18% Petite Sirah, 18% Carignane, 13.9% alc.: This ruby dark garnet Geezer isn't quite secondary on the nose, but it isn't quite primary, either; it's showing sea air, licorice and hints of cedar and underbrush, but some nice notes of red fruit and Draper perfume come out with swirlatude. Very smooth on the palate, with rich red currant, raspberry, black cherry and some little hints of earth, this is beautifully balanced, being not too tannic, with just the right acidity. Right there, right now, this drinks so well early on, but second pours an hour and a half later showed some noticeable oak. I guess the moral to this TN is that you should drink this with a few friends in the first hour that it's poured. 

About that time, we sat down to a delightful dinner, which included a lovely green salad, beef tenderloin, chicken sausage, corn salad and couscous. Dinner wines included any of the following four or five that individual's preferred. 

1991 Ridge Geyserville, 50% Zinfandel, 30% Carignane, 20% Petite Sirah, 14.3% alc.: This deep, dark garnet comes off earthy and slightly vegetal, at first, but with air, lots of pretty raspberry, plum flavors and aromas, and of course, all that Draper perfume, emerge to reveal a lovely wine that pairs perfectly with dinner. There're still some tannins here, and this is in no danger of falling off anytime soon, so drink or hold f or at least a few more years.

1992 Ridge Geyserville, 65% Zinfandel, 20% Carignane, 15% Petite Sirah, 13.9% alc.: Not as dark as the '91, this one is still a young wine on the way up, with big Draper perfume and almost overripe raspberry and black raspberry character. Despite the still ample tannic structure, this is quite smooth at the same time, with a very nice finish. It may not be my favorite of the bunch, but it's delicious nevertheless. 

1993 Ridge Geyserville: Corked. Bummer.

Larry was anxious to try the following two Tuscans, so we briefly veered from our regularly scheduled Geyservilles to see what they had to offer.

1988 Rufino Chianti Classico Reserva Ducale, 13% alc.: Twiggy sticks and rotting leaves obscure the big dried sour cherry fruit on the nose of this rusty ruby garnet, but the flavors do a flip-flop, with the fruit coming to the fore. The tannins are fully resolved, and the acidity is toned down, making for a smooth and delicious CCR 

1990 Rufino Chianti Classico Reserva Ducale, 13% alc.: Sea air, subtle smoke and those dried sour cherries are apparent on the nose of this ruby garnet, and the flavors echo most nicely, with some tannins and toned down acidity on a medium full bodied frame. While this is a solid CCR, it has nowhere near the depth of the '88. 

Geezer Pettie Sarah
1996 Ridge Geyserville Petite Sirah, 14.5% alc.: As was the case when it was released, this deep dark garnet is very drinkable for a "young" petite sirah, though it's not quite as fruit forward as I remember it being then. It shows some brambly briar and a little rhubarb and smoke right off in both flavors and aromas, with big blackberry, black raspberry, plum and just a hint of funk hard on their heels. Alan mentioned "an absence of pepper that I usually associate with petite sirah, with no astringency or anything," and "a gaminess; that ripe degree of rancidity." Doggie finished his pour and said glass smelled of "floral honeysuckle." While this has the structure to go for at least another five years (if not ten), drinking this now is by no means a case of infanticide. A lovely wine. 

1997 Ridge Geyserville, 74% Zinfandel, 15% Carignane, 10% Petite Sirah, 1% Mataro, 14.9% alc.: The big oak is really toning down nicely, and starting to integrate into the luscious fruit of this deep, dark garnet, and yet it still needs more time. Big overripe raspberry and black raspberry flavors and aromas jump out of the glass, complimented with a good dose of Draper perfume and some subtle earth, while the cream and vanilla from the new American oak is nowhere near as prominent as it was even a year or so ago. I've been drinking this since it was released, and it's never impressed as being as tannic as it does now, as it has just a bit of a bite, but that's undoubtedly accentuated by having tasted the older wines before this. Still, it's all about promise, so try and hold off on this for at least two or three more years, if not five. 

1990 Ferraton "Miaux" Hermitage, 12.5% alc.: A preview of the following evening's festivities, this inky garnet Syrah was rather cloudy, but then, it wasn't decanted, and I got to it towards the bottom of the bottle. The sweet fruit seems to more in the red spectrum than the black, but Kerr got the opposite impression, adding impressions of "red anise, black pepper, that nutshell thing and tannins that still hang on." Add a note of sea air, lots of nice earthy, leathery qualities and some brambly underbrush, and you get an idea of what's going on with this. An excellent prospect for "Red Wings and Red Rhones," this is in no danger of fading any time soon. 

1964 Tokaji Aszu Essencia, 12.5% alc.: This venerable rarity is a cloudy bricked color, and Larry described charm as "big sweet caramel, fudge, orange and tea." Another taster mentioned a note of burnt cinnamon, and Mr. Kerr topped it all off with "mulled wine essence a la orange, clove, cinnamon and nutmeg, all wrapped in a wonderful burnt herbal quality of caramel." It was all of those, as well as a fine accompaniment to some terrific Graeter's black raspberry bombe Alaska, and provided a delicious finish to Night One of our vinous sojourn in the land of Cleve.

And a few that I either didn't get to, or didn't note, courtesy of Larry Meehan:

1988 Luis Pato Bairrada Vinho Tinto, 12% alc.: I believe the varietal is "Baga". Its color runs black to purple. The nose has a big, dusty presence...nice violets, black fruits...maybe a hint of "rail road tie". This has an incredibly dense palate sense -- bunches of violets and plenty of blackberries crushed beneath a block of granite. The tannins coat everything, presenting a chalky feel. Kim immediately pegged it as a "saliva sucker" -- that is fair. This is a hard, old school sort of wine...coarse, yet charming. I really liked it. "Traditional" Petite Sirah lovers should take note...I think Garagiste had these for around $20 a while back.

1993 Royal Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttunyos: A sweet, enticingly floral nose...cotton candy and rose petals. Intense blood orange flavors, with soft undercurrents of herb (eucalyptus, perhaps)...brought to a light pucker by the acids, though quite an interesting and enjoyable wine.

1997 Reif Riesling Ice Wine Niagara, 11% alc.: I thought it had a clean celery scent along with apricot and peach...Kim backed that up saying "celery leaves" as her descriptor. Clean, fresh, and enjoyable on the palate, with more sweet apricot and peach...acids give it some bite.

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© George Heritier  October 2003