88% Grenache, 6% Petite Sirah, 6% Zinfandel
Dry Creek Valley
Rain at bloom reduced yields, and winter weather at Lytton Estate extended well into May, delaying the start of the growing season. Though a warm summer advanced ripening, heavy fog in August and early September slowed the process, and the four grenache vineyards did not develop full flavor until late September. The principal block was divided so that its three different field selections could ferment individually; the other blocks were kept separate as well. By the fifth day, natural primary fermentation of the six small lots was complete. An uninoculated secondary followed, and we racked to air-dried american oak barrels. In spring, we began blind tastings to determine the assemblage. The two oldest parcels, planted in 1902 and 1963, are the heart of this wine. They are field blends of grenache, with minor amounts of zinfandel and petite sirah. Pure grenache from the two younger parcels contributes finesse and definition, and eighteen months in oak has integrated fruit and tannin, accentuating the wine’s exotic spice. This excellent grenache will be at its best over the next five 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: 60 inches, above normal
Bloom: Early May
Weather: A cool wet spring and warm, dry summer.
Harvest Dates: 16 September – 1 October
Grapes: Average Brix: 24.9°
Fermentation: No inoculation. Natural primary and secondary. Pressed at thirteen days. Each fermentor’s press wine was held out.
Barrels: 100% air-dried American oak (60% new and one year old, 40% three to five years old)
Aging: Eighteen months in barrel
Average Rating: 88.9
No. of Tasting Notes: 102
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