50% Syrah, 50% Grenache
Dry Creek Valley
Though persistent rains delayed the start of the growing season, both grenache and syrah set full crops; an unusually warm Dry Creek Valley summer helped the vines regain lost time. Grenache was harvested during the last half of September, two weeks ahead of the syrah, which ripened in the heat of early October. Grapes from all eight parcels (four grenache, four syrah) fermented in separate tanks on their naturally occurring yeasts. For more color and richer body, grenache was fully crushed. Syrah inherently more deeply colored—was destemmed, but left as whole berries to moderate its tougher tannins. The wine was assembled the following June, after eight months in barrel. Aging continued for a total of twenty-two months; we racked for clarity each quarter. This is our fourth Syrah/Grenache Lytton Estate. These two varietals, each with its unique character, combine in a wine of layered fruit, opulent structure, and lively acidity. Enjoyable now, it will develop further complexity 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: Sixty inches (above average)
Bloom: Early May
Weather: Cool, wet winter and spring, moderate summer, with no intense heat at harvest.
Harvest Dates: 16 September – 5 October
Grapes: Average Brix 25.5˚
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 six days.
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak (21% new, 44% three years old, 35% four years old)
Average Rating: 89.9
No. of Tasting Notes: 43
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