50% Syrah, 50% Grenache
Dry Creek Valley
Cool weather and late spring rains delayed the start of this year’s growing season. The grenache vines were caught in full bloom by a storm that reduced the crop by half. The later-blooming syrah escaped, and set a good-sized crop. Hot weather in mid-September sent sugars soaring, and the crew into the vineyard. The nine small parcels fermented on their natural yeasts and, after malolactic, were kept separate for nine months in barrel. After a series of blind tastings, we selected two grenache and two syrah lots for this limited release. The wine’s structure allowed us to use more new and one-year-old oak (in this case, nearly fifty percent), and we extended barrel time to thirty months. The exotic richness and resolved tannins of the grenache complement the syrah’s depth of flavor and firm structure. This exceptional wine can be enjoyed now, and will develop further over the next five to seven years.
Ridge became involved with grenache quite by accident when, in 1972, we first harvested the nineteenth-century 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 percent ages in each parcel; in 1992, those old mixed vines, harvested separately, produced our first Grenache/Zinfandel. Ridge bought Lytton Springs’ western vineyards in 1995, acquiring a mixed grenache block planted in 1963, and a straight grenache block planted in 1991. We currently have 3.2 acres of mature syrah, and 6 acres of young vines planted in 1997 on Lytton West. We have since planted several of the finest syrah clones and field selections, including, most recently, a 10.5-acre block of syrah (together with a small amount of viognier).
Rainfall: Slightly above normal at 60 inches.
Bloom: Mid-May (normal).
Weather: Cool spring, very warm summer, and early fall.
Harvest Dates: 15 – 21 September
Grapes: Average brix 26.8˚
Fermentation: 50% whole berries. No inoculation. Natural primary and secondary.
Twice-daily pump-overs during the first three days, one or one-half per day thereafter.
Pressed at nine days.
Aging: 100% air-dried american oak (30% new, 20% one and two years old, 50% three
and five years old)
Time in Barrel: Thirty months
Average Rating: 90
No. of Tasting Notes: 44
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