100% Petite Sirah
Very dark purple-ruby. Cassis, boysenberry, raspberry jam, sweet black earth, black pepper, peppermint, vanilla. Flavors replicate elements from the nose; emphasis on pepper. Bright, fresh, balanced acid. A long finish; enough tannin to age five years.
We have made petite sirah from this great mountain site since 1971. Past vintages have been more tannic, requiring longer aging. In 1993 one-third of the crop was declassified, leaving a preponderance of grapes fermented as whole clusters—an approach which enhances the fruit and adds complexity, but significantly moderates tannin. This lovely—if unusual—York Creek Petite Sirah is very approachable. It will develop fully over the next five to seven years.
Brought to California in the 1870’s—at the same time as carignan, grenache and mataró (mourvèdre)—petite sirah is assumed to have come from the same general area, southern and southwestern France. It is not the same as syrah—the principal grape of the northern Rhône, but its overall character has more in common with that variety than any other. Dr. Carole P. Meredith of U.C. Davis did the first genetic fingerprinting of petite sirah in 1993. Her results showed that indeed it was not syrah, nor was it the Rhône hybrid Duriff, as many had assumed. The origins of petite sirah remain as mysterious as those of zinfandel. In many of California’s old zinfandel vineyards, petite sirah is interplanted with carignan or mataró, sometimes with grenache. Having no identified European heritage, it has become as Californian as zinfandel.
Ridge’s 1993 represents a stylistic change from previous vintages. The change was not planned, so the vintage can be regarded—at least at this point—as an experiment. (The 1994 reverts to our well-established style.) York Creek’s late spring and cool nights made the petite sirah grapes among the very last to ripen. Harvested on October 27, they averaged 23.5° Brix.
For the past few years, we have been working on a very limited scale with partial whole-cluster fermentations—to enhance fruit, moderate tannins, and add complexity. In 1993, we increased this: half the tanks contained fifty percent whole, uncrushed clusters and fifty percent fully crushed, destemmed grapes. This relatively minor increase would not have been so dramatic if, at assemblage, we had not declassified a major part of the traditionally-fermented wine because of high volatile acidity. With that wine held out, we suddenly had a wine that was one-third whole clusters; this changed the style. This York Creek Petite Sirah is more elegant, and less tannic, than in past years. It shows a good deal of fresh fruit from the whole-cluster fermentation (carbonic maceration). There is the black pepper so typical of the varietal, as well as black fruit and floral overtones. The chalky tannins are soft, and the wine is eminently approachable. It is a “bistro” wine—far better suited to current consumption than long aging.
Average Rating: 90
No. of Tasting Notes: 2
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