96% Zinfandel, 2% Carignane, 2% Petite Sirah
Russian River Valley
Bright raspberry fruit, hints of spice and vanilla. Ripe red fruit flavors intensify on the palate. Some austerity. Well-defined, elegant tannins. Firm acidity, long finish.
Ridge first made zinfandel from the cool Russian River Valley in 1970, producing five vintages from old vines near Occidental. More recently, we began working with these two vineyards just south of Healdsburg. For ten years we included this fruit in our Sonoma County wine, then realized its distinctive, consistent character deserved separate bottling. Vigorous thinning in 2002 intensified flavors; we harvested in late September and early October. After natural primary fermentation, a natural malolactic moderated the firm, cool-climate acidity; the wine is full-bodied, yet elegant. Aging took place in air-dried american oak; we limited new oak to a modest sixteen percent, allowing the intense fruit to come to the fore. Enjoyable now, the 2002 Ponzo will develop fully over the next five to seven years. PD (6/03)
Cousins Phil and Bob Ponzo farm these grapes for us in the Russian River Valley. In 1991, when we purchased Lytton Springs Winery, we began using fruit from Phil’s vineyard; since then, those grapes have been the backbone of our multi-vineyard Sonoma Zinfandels. Bob’s vineyard, on similar soils a quartermile away, was first included four years ago. The Russian River Valley’s cooler microclimate ripens Ponzo shortly after Lytton Springs and Geyserville. Small amounts of carignane and petite sirah are interplanted with zinfandel in the oldest blocks.
Rainfall: Just over forty inches, most in winter.
Bloom: Late May
Weather: Cooler than Lytton Springs and Geyserville. Fog arrives sooner, burns off later than in Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys.
Harvest Dates: 17 September – 6 November
Grapes: Average brix 25.0-; average pH at crush 3.52
Fermentation: Natural primary and secondary (no inoculation). A majority of grapes held submerged, with limited daily pump-overs. Pressed at seven days.
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (26% new, 74% three, four, five, and six years old)
Aging: Nine months in barrel
Wine Advocate (28 Feb 2005): “From the Russian River, the deep ruby/purple-tinged 2002 Zinfandel Ponzo Vineyards (96% Zinfandel, 2% Carignan, and 2% Petite Sirah) offers up scenets of loamy earth, pepper, sweet kirsch, plums, raspberries, and cherries. With vibrant acidity as well as copious quantities of heady fruit, it should be enjoyed over the next 5-6 years.” Rated: 89
Connoisseurs’ Guide (Sep 2004): From its aromatic overtures of succulent berries to its bright and impeccably balanced flavors, this impressively filled offering gets it right when its comes to varietal fruit and avoids the heaviness and heat that are all too often the price of richness in latter-day Zin. It is long and quite lively with plenty of punch, and it stands as a welcome reminder of the food-worthy charms and potential for elegance in well-made Zinfandel. Rated: 92
International Wine Cellar (July/August 2004): Dark red. Chocolate, menthol and flowers on the nose. Began quite tightly wound but blossomed in the glass to show sappy, rich, slightly medicinal flavors of redcurrant and spice. Finishes with sweet, lush tannins and very good length. Rated: 89
Average Rating: 89.4
No. of Tasting Notes: 28
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