50% Syrah, 50% Grenache
Dry Creek Valley
California’s third year of mild drought affected yields in all our vineyards; syrah and grenache showed the sharpest reduction. Fortunately, rain fell briefly in March, helping the vines survive a long, warm summer. The grapes ripened slowly, and were harvested from September 25 to October 10. Whole berries fermented on natural yeasts for six days, with daily pump-overs for extraction. When uninoculated malolactic fermentations were complete, we blind-tasted three lots of grenache and four of syrah, assembling those with best fruit expression and balance. After two years in barrel, tannins have begun to soften. Given grenache’s typically austere structure, however, the wine will be most enjoyable with five more 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: 34 inches (below average)
Bloom: Late May
Weather: Dry winter saved by spring rains and followed by a warm, dry summer.
Harvest Dates: 25 September – 10 October
Grapes: Average Brix 24.7˚
Fermentation: 100% whole berries. No inoculation. Natural primary and secondary. Juice was circulated through the cap of skins daily. Pressed at six days.
Barrels: Air-dried american oak (30% one and two years old, 70% three and four 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, 0.6 grams/liter tartaric acid was added. Minimum effective sulfur additions (35 ppm at crush, 148 ppm over the course of aging). Pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
Average Rating: 89.6
No. of Tasting Notes: 55
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