95% Zinfandel, 5% Petite Sirah
Russian River Valley
Early budbreak followed a warm spring in Russian River Valley this year. In all three parcels of Bob Ponzo’s vineyard, crop levels were down, so the grapes ripened quickly. We harvested the Old Vines on August 26, Triangle and Back blocks in mid-September. The parcels fermented separately on yeasts naturally present on the grapes. Color and tannin were plentiful, and extracted easily during a nine-day maceration. After malolactic, we tasted, choosing to blend Old Vines and Back blocks for this year’s wine. Once assembled, it was put in air-dried american oak barrels to age for twelve months. This is one of the most structured, intense wines we have made from the Ponzo vineyard. An abundance of exotic fruit makes it enjoyable now; it will continue to develop over the next five to six years. JO (10/08)
Bob Ponzo has farmed these grapes for us in the Russian River Valley since 1999. Bob’s vineyard, on deep gravely loam soils four and a half miles south of Lytton Springs, provides all of the grapes for this zinfandel. The Russian River Valley’s cooler microclimate ripens this fruit shortly after Lytton Springs and Geyserville. Small amounts of petite sirah are interplanted with zinfandel in the oldest block.
Rainfall: Thirty-five inches (below normal)
Bloom: Mid-May (normal)
Weather: Dry spring with a warm dry summer, and no sustained heat spells.
Harvest Dates: 26 August and 18-19 September
Grapes: Average Brix 25.7
Fermentation: No inoculation — natural primary and secondary; rapid color and tannin extraction. Pressed at nine days.
Aging: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (35% new, 15% two years, 50% three and four years old)
Time in Barrel: Twelve months
California Grapevine (Vol. 35, No. 3, June-July 2009): “Medium-dark purplish ruby; attractive, forward, very briary, jammy, blackberry fruit aroma with notes of dill and pomegranate; full body; forward, rich, textured, briary, peppery, dark cherry and blackberry fruit flavors with good depth; medium-full to full tannin; lingering aftertaste. Very highly recommended.”
(Group Score: 16.0 of 20 points, 0/2/3; My Score: 17 [91/100], third place)
Quarterly Review of Wines (Summer 2009): 5-Star California Zinfandels – “Big, rich, ripe, deliciously exotic, black currant, cinnamon and nutty oak flavors.” (Rated: *****, Co-Best of Show)
Average Rating: 89.8
No. of Tasting Notes: 57
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