Santa Cruz Mountains
Planted in the nineteenth century on Monte Bello Ridge, this is our coolest zinfandel vineyard. This year, however, an unusually warm spring and summer, free from coastal fog, gave the vines plenty of sun, and the crop ripened early. Albeit quite ripe by initial measurement, the grapes soaked out further in the fermentor. It wasn’t until spring, when yeasts had finished most of the sugar, that we discovered just how ripe the grapes were. To match the fruit’s intensity, we used a higher-than-usual proportion of new and one-year-old cooperage for aging. The spice and mineral character are unique—a result of vine age, and Monte Bello’s limestone soils.The wine’s firm acidity is balanced by rich, well-defined mountain fruit. Appealing now, it has the potential to develop over the next ten to fifteen 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 1900. But it was his zinfandel plantings that survived Prohibition and the Depression.
In 1936, San Francisco’s Schwabacher family purchased Klein’s Mira 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: Twenty-eight inches (below average)
Bloom: Early June
Weather: Cool spring, warm summer and fall, short growing season.
Harvest Date: 30 September
Grapes: Average brix 25.2˚
Fermentation: No inoculation; natural primary and secondary. Pressed at six days.
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (20% new, 45% one and two years old, 35% four years old)
Aging: Fifteen months in barrel
All estate grown Monte Bello vineyard grapes, hand harvested. Destemmed and crushed. Fermented on the native yeasts, followed by full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria. Minimum effective sulfur (35ppm at crush, 95 ppm over the course of aging). Fresh egg white fining added to moderate tannins. Pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
Average Rating: 91.1
No. of Tasting Notes: 56
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