100% Petite Sirah
An early start to the growing season ripened the petite sirah at York Creek several weeks early. Dynamite Hill was harvested within two days, and the grapes destemmed, but not crushed. When berries remain whole in the fermentor, the seeds— which provide roughly ninety percent of tannins— are encased in skin and pulp, so extract more slowly. Limiting circulation of juice over the cap also helped moderate (to a degree) the structure of this classic petite sirah. After a natural (uninoculated) primary and secondary fermentation, a small amount of the first press was added, and the wine racked to air-dried american oak barrels for twenty-two months of aging. A third of the barrels were new, and two-thirds four years old. (The sheer size of the wine demanded a higher percentage of new wood.) Deep, dark, and complex, the exceptional 2004 Dynamite Hill will benefit from five to ten years of bottle age.
In 1968, Fritz Maytag purchased the Herbert Hummel ranch on Spring Mountain, west of St. Helena in Napa Valley. This beautiful property rises from 1250′ to over 2000′, and its climate is cooler than that of the valley below. Most of the land is forested and wild—the watershed of its namesake, York Creek. There are several petite sirah blocks on the ranch. Planted in the early years of the last century, the Devil’s Hill vines are the oldest. In 1971, Ridge used their fruit to make its first Petite Sirah York Creek. The story of how this came about starts in 1967, when Fritz and Paul Draper—friends, at Stanford—set up a winery in Chile’s coast range. When Paul returned to California, joining Ridge as winemaker in August of 1969 it made sense for Fritz to send Paul these amazing grapes. By 1980 Ridge was also taking the grapes from Dynamite Hill planted in 1973 with old Devil’s Hill cuttings. Dynamite Hill, now thirty-six years old, dominates our York Creek Petite Sirah bottlings.
Rainfall: Less than 40 inches (below normal)
Bloom: Early May
Weather: Dry winter and warm spring weather. A dry and mild summer was followed by an unusually warm autumn pushing harvest forward by two weeks.
Harvest date: September 8, 2004
Grapes: Average Brix 26.1˚
Fermentation: 100% whole-berry, floating cap. 100% natural primary and secondary fermentation. Drained & pressed at 7 days.
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (32% new and 68% four years old)
Aging: Twenty-two months in barrel
Average Rating: 90.4
No. of Tasting Notes: 49
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