65% Zinfandel, 20% Carignan, 15% Petite Sirah
The 1992 is our twenty-seventh vintage from this great vineyard, whose climate and gravelly soils together contribute a definition and elegance not often associated with zinfandel. The old carignan and petite sirah are fermented with floating cap and extensive pump-overs, the zinfandel with submerged cap—for long, gentle extraction. While characteristic of the year, the wine clearly equals the 1990 and 1991. It has the structure to develop over ten or more years; the appealing fruit will be most intense in the wine’s youth.
In 1990, after producing twenty-five vintages of this great single vineyard wine, we were able to lease the old Whitten Ranch portion of the Trentadue family’s Geyserville vineyard. All the zinfandel—with the exception of two detached blocks—is planted on the thirty-six leased acres, guaranteeing that we will have these exceptional grapes for the next thirty years. The Trentadue family has always farmed the vineyard to produce quality, not quantity, yet Ridge now has even greater flexibility in matters of vineyard practice. We can, if we choose, replace lesser blocks or thin the crop radically. In the last three years we have used this flexibility to produce even finer wines than might otherwise have been possible. Our vineyard manager, David Gates—working with Victor Trentadue, who farms the vineyard for us—has opened up these head-pruned vines to allow sunlight and air to reach the fruit. In 1992, a third of the crop was dropped early in the growing season. In an excellent, though cool, vintage, this gave us the fully ripe fruit needed to produce an intense and complex wine.
Half the grapes were fermented using the traditional submerged cap approach and half—including the petite sirah, 112-year-old carignan, and equally old mixed-varietal block— were fermented by the more typical floating cap technique, with its extensive pump-overs. New oak was held to 25%; one-year-old barrels amounted to another 35%. Together, they contribute more sweet/toasty character than is typical of this wine. In most years, the site’s gravelly soils have given the Geyserville an elegance not typical of other zinfandels. We include major amounts of old carignan and petite sirah from the ranch, but zinfandel dominates. While the additional varietals clearly add depth and complexity, they do not account for the distinctive character which comes from the site itself. The 1992 is a worthy successor to the marvelous 1990 and 1991 vintages. Its forward fruit and exquisite balance make it a superb wine to enjoy now. The solid structure ensures ten years of further development, but the fresh fruit is at its most appealing in the young wine.
Average Rating: 90.4
No. of Tasting Notes: 33
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