94% Petite Sirah, 6% Zinfandel
After a very early, abundant harvest in 1997, this year we were treated to the latest—and among the smallest—of our twenty-eight York Creek vintages. Unlike the zinfandel, which ripened easily and fully, the petite sirah struggled valiantly to reach full flavor. For maximum extraction, the grapes were destemmed and fully crushed, rather than left as whole clusters; the fermenting juice was circulated over them twice daily for a week. In keeping with the relative delicacy of the fruit, the wine was aged in tempered one-, two-, and three-year-old air-dried american oak barrels. Tasting the wine prior to bottling, we were astonished at the development of flavors, and of body, that had come about with a year of barrel aging. This is a lovely, accessible example of one of California’s historic varietals. It will be at its best over the next five to ten years. PD (3/00)
Since 1962, Ridge has explored California in search of great vineyards where climate, soil, and varietal are perfectly matched. Using traditional methods and minimal handling, we strive to produce the highest quality wines from superior and distinctive fruit.
The very late spring and cool growing season of 1998 provided an extreme example of that rule. August rains were unexpected, further slowing development. The crop, though by no means excessive, was heavy enough that some of the grapes never matured. Fortunately, most of them reached—but only just—the full ripeness we invariably seek. Quantity was seriously reduced, quality intact.
To optimize extraction of color and flavor in this atypical year, we crushed all the grapes; none remained as whole clusters. In the majority of tanks they were held submerged. (We generally do the opposite with petite sirah, using whole clusters or whole berries, and a floating cap—to better control excess tannin, and add freshness to the flavors.) After natural (uninoculated) primary and secondary fermentations, we racked to one-, two-, and three-year-old oak, keeping the most tannic press wine separate, to be fined with fresh egg whites before inclusion. New wood was avoided, for fear of overwhelming the fruit. After five racks and sixteen months in these air-dried
american oak barrels, the wine was racked again to assemble for bottling. It had filled out dramatically in body and depth of flavor. This is a lovely petite sirah from an unusual vintage year. It should be approachable with a year of bottle age, and continue
to develop in complexity over the next five to ten years.
Average Rating: 89.9
No. of Tasting Notes: 8
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