51% Syrah, 49% Grenache
Dry Creek Valley
A short, dry winter began the growing season ahead of schedule. The small crop set in May, and mild weather through summer brought a late September harvest. To moderate tannin extraction, the grapes were left to ferment as whole berries; juice was circulated over the cap twice daily. The wines quickly finished uninoculated malolactic, and were racked to air-dried american oak barrels. After blind tasting, we assembled three grenache lots from 1902, 1963, and 1991 plantings, and syrah from a parcel planted in 1999. Extended barrel age softened tannins. Limiting the number of one- and two-year-old barrels kept oak and fruit in balance. Accessible now, this fine wine will develop greater complexity with eight to ten years of bottle age.
Ridge became involved with grenache quite by accident when, in 1972, we first harvested the vines planted in 1902 on the eastern hills of Lytton Springs. 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: 30 inches (below average)
Bloom: Early May
Weather: Dry spring and warm, dry summer, with no sustained heat spells.
Harvest Dates: 4 September – 1 October
Grapes: Average Brix 25.3˚
Fermentation: 100% whole berries. No inoculation. Natural primary and secondary. Juice was circulated through the cap of skins twice daily. Pressed at six days.
Barrels: Air-dried american oak (30% one and two years old, 70% three and fours years old)
Aging: Twenty-eight months in barrel
All estate grown grapes, hand harvested. Destemmed and left uncrushed. Fermented on the native yeasts, followed by full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria. During fermentation, 0.3 gram-per-liter tartaric acid was added to two lower acid syrah parcels. Minimum effective sulfur additions (35 ppm at crush, 155 ppm over the course of aging). Fining of nine 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: 90.8
No. of Tasting Notes: 63
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