50% Syrah, 50% Grenache
Dry Creek Valley
Two big storms, in January and early February, delivered almost all the season’s rainfall. Fortunately, given the lack of spring rain, mild summer weather reduced the chance of water stress in August. Three parcels of grenache and four of syrah were harvested, and fully ripe, in early September. Destemmed, but left uncrushed, the grapes fermented on naturally-occuring yeasts in small, open-top tanks. Tannin extraction was closely monitored, and the tanks were drained at the sixth day, on average. The most concentrated press wines were added back to the free runs. Uninoculated malolactic fermentation finished within three weeks. Grenache and syrah lots aged separately in american oak until assemblage in early spring; total barrel time was twenty-four months. This complex, appealing wine will be at its best over the next six to eight years.
Ridge became involved with grenache quite by accident when, in 1972, we first harvested the vines on the eastern hills of Lytton Springs planted in 1902. Though we didn’t know it then, one of the hills 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, 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 3.1 acres of mature syrah, and 6.6 acres of syrah (together with a small amount of viognier) planted in 2001.
Rainfall: 35 inches (below average)
Weather: Dry spring and warm, dry summer, with no sustained heat spells.
Harvest Dates: 4 September – 8 September
Grapes: Average brix 25.3˚
Fermentation: 100% whole berries. No inoculation. Natural primary and secondary. Daily pump-overs during the first six days. Pressed at six days.
Barrels: 53 air-dried american oak (21% new, 42% two years old, and 37% three years old)
Aging: Twenty-four months in barrel.
All estate grown grapes, hand harvested. Destemmed and crushed. Fermented on the native yeasts, followed by full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria. During fermentation, 0.4 gram-per-liter tartaric acid was added to four low acid syrah parcels. Minimum effective sulfur additions (35 ppm at crush, 130 ppm over the course of aging). Fining of five fresh egg whites per barrel. Pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
Average Rating: 90.3
No. of Tasting Notes: 73
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