We’re all getting very excited up here at Ridge, as we get closer and closer to the arrival of our Spring Releases. We’ll be celebrating their release at both our Tasting Rooms the first weekend of April (to find out more about this event, please click here), and this will be a great opportunity for you all to sample the offerings from what looks to be a tremendous array of additions to the Ridge portfolio. But just to whet your collective whistles a bit, I thought I’d post for you what our winemaker’s have to say about the new wines. Read on!
2008 ZINFANDEL EAST BENCH
2008 marks our third release of this hundred-percent zinfandel from the benchland above Dry Creek Valley. The head-trained vines set a full crop by late May. In July, after veraison, we performed a green harvest, dropping twenty percent of the crop to guarantee optimum flavors in the remaining grapes. Sugar levels rose quickly in the August heat; we began picking August 26, and finished September 2. The grapes were crushed into nine small tanks. Natural-yeast fermentations took about eight days to complete, at which point we pressed, and racked to american oak for twelve months of aging. Bottled January 2010, this East Bench Zinfandel will be at its best over the next six to seven years. John Olney
2008 ZINFANDEL PONZO RANCH
Cool spring weather delayed the growing season at the Ponzo vineyard. Warm summer weather made up for this, however, and by the first week of September, when sugar and flavor levels were optimal, we picked the Old Vines and Triangle blocks. We finished picking with the Back block on September 18. Each parcel was separately fermented on its natural yeasts. Grapes from the old-vine parcel, a traditional field blend of petite sirah and zinfandel, were co-fermented, bringing structure and dark fruit to the wine. The pure zinfandel parcels contribute focused fruit, and round out the tannins. This is our one zinfandel from the Russian River Valley. In the area’s temperate climate, growing seasons are typically longer; increased time on the vine produces wines with intense fruit, supple structure, and brisk acidity. This full, elegant zinfandel will be enjoyable over the next five to six years. John Olney
A second drought year, combined with a short crop, gave us a zinfandel harvest of exceptional quality. Though tonnage was down, the mild summer weather allowed for even ripening, something we’ve not seen since the great 1999 vintage. Fermented on natural yeasts, the deeply-colored grapes were quick to extract. We did fewer pump-overs, and pressed early to keep tannins in balance. Once harvest ended, we tasted all the lots for assemblage, choosing only the most classic—those that showed strong vineyard character. In barrel, the wine’s elements came together with wonderful finesse, as oak spice and sweetness integrated. Opulent bramble fruit permits early enjoyment, yet structure and flavor indicate that this vintage will develop fully over the next ten to fifteen years. Eric Baugher
2008 ZINFANDEL PASO ROBLES
Beni Dusi’s vineyard yielded half a normal crop in 2008. Rainfall ended early, and was well below average for the season. All signs pointed to an unusually early harvest, but a cool summer slowed progress. We picked all the parcels in one week. Natural-yeast fermentations were vigorous, starting within twenty-four hours of crush. Half the tanks were fitted with grids that held the cap of skins submerged in the fermenting juice. Color, tannin, and firm acid extracted quickly, filling out the body. Paso Robles zinfandels are typically soft and approachable in youth. This vintage has more substantial weight to match its dark fruit, and should age gracefully over the next decade—rare for wines from this warm region. Eric Baugher