Our Annual Library Tasting

Blog Post

August 2022

Checking in on older vintages of Monte Bello, Geyserville & Lytton Springs

Ryan Moore, Senior VP of Consumer Sales, tells us about the purpose of this year’s library tasting, attended by our winemaking and executive teams.

At least once a year, we gather our winemaking and executive teams to taste through as many back vintages of Lytton Springs, Geyserville and Monte Bello as possible. Our goal is to determine how these wines are drinking so that our customers who choose to age their wines have a guide to assist them in deciding when they should open them. The results of the Monte Bello tastings are consolidated and put into our Vintage Tracker which lives on our website for our customers to reference. This year, we’ll be developing similar trackers for Lytton Springs and Geyserville. Despite having worked at RIDGE for more than a decade, I continue to be amazed and humbled by these tastings. The quality and complexity of these wines, particularly with age, is simply remarkable.

Trester Goetting,Winemaker, Monte Bello; Michael Bairdsmith, Assistant Winemaker, Lytton Springs; and Hannah Hanlon, Laboratory Manager, Monte Bello

This year’s tasting was particularly exciting given that we have had two new winemakers join our team over the past six months. Both working with our Head Winemaker, John Olney, Trester Goetting joined us as our Monte Bello Winemaker in February and Shauna Rosenblum joined us as Lytton Springs Winemaker last month. Their fresh perspective was a wonderful addition to the tasting. We hope you find this resource useful and look forward to hearing from you the next time you decide to pull an older RIDGE wine from your cellar. Cheers!

The Lineup

Monte BelloGeyservilleLytton Springs
1. 19951. 20041. 2004
2. 20002. 20062. 2006
3. 20023. 20073. 2009
4. 20054. 20094. 2010
5. 20075. 20105. 2012
6. 20096. 20116. 2013
7. 20107. 20127. 2014
8. 20118. 20138. 2015
9. 20129. 20149. 2016
10. 201310. 2015
11. 2016

Wine of the Day

We asked each attendee to share their “Wine of the Day” and got a wide range of answers, underscoring the incredible range and ageability of RIDGE wines. See their responses below.

Paul Draper, Chairman of the Board

2012 Monte Bello for its complexity and balance, a wine that will show beautifully at 50 years of age if well-stored at an approximate, steady temperature around 65°F.

David Amadia, President

For me, the wine of the day was the 2011 Monte Bello, a wine from a very cool vintage that was savaged by the critics. The wine at eleven years of age is fresh, alive, and elegant with notes of mint, tobacco, cassis, and red cherry. Secondary development has just begun, the oak is beginning to integrate, and the tannins to soften. A gorgeous wine you can enjoy today or watch develop over the next 20 years.

But the real highlight of the day was having our entire winemaking team assembled and in the same room with our key leadership. It was a great day after forced COVID separation for so long punctuated by having our two newest winemakers, Shauna Rosenblum and Trester Goetting, join the tasting.

Mark Vernon, CEO

I thought the 1995 Monte Bello was in a perfect place. Beautiful fruit, great complexity, smooth tannins. Although this wine will easily go forward for a number of years, it was a joy to taste it at this point in its life.

David Gates, SVP Vineyard Operations

My wine of the day was the 2000 MB. It was stunning as usual; deep, rich, profound and electric. I expect it will keep on this plateau of pleasure for another decade or two!

John Olney, Head Winemaker & COO

For me, both the 2009 Geyserville and Lytton Springs exemplify perfect balance of fruit, acid and tannin and promise to gain complexity with a further ten years of cellar age.

Trester Goetting, Winemaker – Monte Bello

My favorite wine of the day was the 2002 Monte Bello. This wine has a beautiful nose with layers of fruit plus spice. Sage, green olive, red and black fruit profiles. The entry is bright and fresh. It is very balanced and has plenty of structure with fine grained tannins that will continue to age for another 10 to 15 years.

Shauna Rosenblum, Winemaker – Lytton Springs

2004 Geyserville: Aging wine is a gamble, but every once in a while, there is a jackpot at the end. This is it. This wine had layers of intrigue which boasted aromas of ripe pomegranate, cherry, black raspberry, minerality, garrigue, black olive and black tea. The acid and tannin profiles were still intact which created a velvety mouthfeel with flavors that confirmed the aromas. This wine was an “a-ha moment” wine.

Michael Bairdsmith, Assistant Winemaker – Lytton Springs

My wine of the day was the 2006 Lytton Springs. I got fresh bramble, strawberry, and juniper berry on the nose with hints of smoked game hen. The tannins had evolved to a nice round and silky level. It has evolved beautifully.

Ryan Johnson, Director of Marketing

The 2004 Geyserville stood out to me. Tasting the 2004 alongside several younger Geyserville vintages, it was clear that it was entering the next stage of its life as a well-aged, but still alive, wine. The secondary notes of licorice, leather and tobacco started to explode on the nose. There was so much going on. The palate still had seductive fruit and racy acidity. It was becoming a whole new animal!

Hannah Hanlon, Laboratory Manager – Monte Bello

My “wine of the day” was the 2009 Lytton Springs. This wine had an elegance and balance that impressed me and stuck with me. Savory notes and baking spice were starting to show on the nose, yet the red fruit was still very present in this wine, giving it a lively, expressive, and complex entry. The tannins were beautifully integrated into the wine throughout the palate with a soft delicate finish.

Lauren Garcia, Laboratory Manager – Lytton Springs

My wine of the day was the 2011 Geyserville. Of course all the Monte Bellos were stunning and show stopping, but the 2011 Geyserville was so complex, with flavors of black olive, thyme, rose petal and pomegranate on the nose, and a focused palate of coffee, cocoa, slate and soft red fruit with vibrant acidity and velvety tannin. It just had everything we want in a zin with some age. Its complexity and elegance were memorable.


What’s Next?

Our Monte Bello Vintage Tracker will be getting regular updates as we establish optimal drinking windows. Geyserville and Lytton Springs will each be getting a new vintage tracker that will mirror the style and format of Monte Bello. As we taste additional library vintages, new data will be added to each page.

RIDGE Club Members enjoy exclusive access to library vintages. Explore ATP, Z List, and Monte Bello collector and find the perfect club for you.