78% Grenache, 13% Petite Sirah, 9% Zinfandel
Dry Creek Valley
The growing season opened with a mild March, slowing in the cooler weather of April and May. Late May rains reduced yields in the older blocks, but assured soil moisture through fall. To gain intensity, we dropped almost half the crop on the younger vines, but the forty- and one-hundred-year-old vines required only sunshine, and mowing of the cover crop. The destemmed, uncrushed fruit fermented on its natural yeasts in three- and five-ton fermentors, and was pressed at nine days. A fresh egg white fining has softened the chalky tannins; nineteen months in air-dried american oak barrels has added spice and a hint of sweetness. This is a particularly fine grenache from a high-quality, low-yield vintage. It will soften further with a year or two of bottle age, and be at its best over the next five to seven years.
Ridge became involved with grenache quite by accident when, in 1972, we first harvested the vines on the eastern hills of Lytton Springs. Though we didn’t know it then, one of the hills—planted in 1902—had a high percentage of grenache, interplanted with small amounts of zinfandel and petite sirah. We purchased the eastern vineyards in 1991, and identified the varietal percentages in each parcel; in 1992, those old mixed vines produced our first Grenache/Zinfandel. Ridge bought Lytton Springs’ western vineyards in 1995, acquiring a mixed grenache block planted in 1963 and a grenache-only block planted in 1991. With this amount—and quality—to select from, in most years we can now make a wine dominated by the varietal.
Rainfall: Over 40 inches
Bloom: Early May
Weather: April and May were cool and a May rain system affected the set on almost all varieties. Warm summer and early fall.
Harvest Dates: 7 September – 27 September
Grapes: Average brix 26.7°
Fermentation: No inoculation. Natural primary and secondary. Pressed at nine days. Press wine from each fermenter was held out of the free run.
Aging: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (20% new and one year old, 80% two to four years old)
Time in Barrel: Seventeen months
Average Rating: 89.3
No. of Tasting Notes: 34
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