Santa Cruz Mountains
These two small zinfandel parcels–one planted in the nineteenth century, the other in the 1990s are on our lower Monte Bello vineyard. Minimal winter rainfall forced the vines to struggle for groundwater. Bloom in late April produced a crop of moderate size at set; a mild summer ripened the grapes, and we harvested in early October. “Chicks and hens” (a mix of large and small grapes on the same cluster) were much in evidence this year, the result of variable weather during pollination. Both parcels fermented on natural yeasts in a three-ton tank. To avoid over-rapid extraction of tannin, we tasted frequently during pump-overs. Natural malolactic finished quickly, and we racked to air-dried american oak barrels. The wine clarified naturally over the next sixteen months. More elegant than recent Jimsomares, its classic mountain fruit and soft tannins are well matched; further complexity will develop over the next seven years.
Since the 1960s, Ridge has made small quantities—ranging from five to seventeen barrels—of wine from this nineteenth-century vineyard. A number of you are familiar with our Jimsomare Zinfandel.
The vines were planted by Alsatian Pierre Klein, a San Francisco restaurateur famous for his Bordeaux-varietal wines, which won gold medals at the Paris Exposition of 1890. But it was his zinfandel plantings that survived Prohibition and the Depression.
In 1936, San Francisco’s Schwabacher family purchased Klein’s Vista del Valle property, re-naming it “Jimsomare,” for James (father and son), Sophie (wife and mother), and Marie Louise (daughter). In 1966, vineyard manager Elmano Homem pruned the long-neglected vines, and brought the vineyard back to life. Ridge first harvested the zinfandel in 1968. It was our first wine from the ranch. (We took over farming at Jimsomare in 1996; it is now considered the “lower” (1400′ – 2000′) Monte Bello vineyard and has been planted primarily to the Bordeaux varietals as it had been prior to Prohibition).
Rainfall: Thirty inches (below average)
Bloom: Late April
Weather: Moderate summer and fall, long cool growing season.
Harvest Date: 2 October
Grapes: Average brix 23.5˚
Fermentation: No inoculation; natural primary and secondary. Pressed at six days.
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (33% three years old, 67% four years old).
Aging: Sixteen months in barrel.
Average Rating: 90.2
No. of Tasting Notes: 40
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