On How The Reigning Dark Viticultural Prince Of All The Lands Of Cyber Monday Is Roaming The Forest Of My Palate, Slaying All Pretenders To The Throne
Check your e-mail inbox, because there is a VERY GOOD Cyber Monday offer from Ridge Vineyard waiting for you there!
Coincidentally (or perhaps not!), I wish to offer some tasting notes on the 2005 Ridge Vineyards Dynamite Hill Petite Sirah. But first, winemaker Eric Baugher’s notes, from back in 2007:
2005 Dynamite Hill Petite Sirah
100% Petite Sirah
Bottled August 2007
A long growing season allowed the York Creek grapes to achieve intensity at modest (by today’s standards) ripeness. We picked in late September; the tight, mature, brown-stemmed clusters were perfect for a natural-yeast, whole-cluster fermentation. Extraction of color and tannin was ideal by day six, and we pressed. The natural secondary (malolactic) fermentation was complete by late November, and the wine racked to air-dried american oak barrels for aging. These fifteen barrels–one-third new, one-third three years old, one-third four years old–were combined for a special, limited petite sirah bottling, something we have not done since 2000. After twenty months in oak, the wine has gained additional richness and spice, and tannins have softened. Remarkably complex, it is approachable now, but will continue to improve with five to seven years of bottle age. EB (5/07)
And as to my thoughts today …
If you’ve had the Ridge Vineyards York Creek before, then you’ve tasted Dynamite Hill petite sirah; it’s the block on York Creek that provides the petite sirah for this long-running Ridge zinfandel. On its own, I’ve always found it to be a sort of kinder, gentler petite sirah; it’s always had the varietally correct squid-inkiness, intense tannin architecture, and deep berry profile one would expect, but it’s always come wrapped in a fairly lively and multi-colored bow.
Digging into the nose of this particular vintage, I am immediately taken in by the array of complexities on offer; most notably, the distinct note of caraway. Fascinating! Add to that the singular appearances of buckwheat flour pancake batter, blackberry preserves, and a touch of Irish Stew, and you’ve got a truly provocative bouquet on your hands, and one that leans distinctly autumnal in its overall profile.
Front-palate hits full parade mode right away; nothing is reserved, the show is on, the trumpets are blaring, drums are thumping, legs are kicking. There is a wealth of tannin architecture laid out right away, between the girders of which hangs a dense tapestry of deep blue-to-purple-to-black fruit threads.
Mid-palate shows a little of that American oak-derived dill tone , and this actually tributaries its way nicely into the caraway stream hinted at in the aromatics; in these rushing rapids is also a wealth of black herb and woody stemness; black licorice and blackstrap molasses are most prevalent as well.
The finish is still youthful to say the least, and tannins are still dominant, though there is a trickle of acidity that bobs and weaves around the pure rope of richness that runs straight down the center palate stripe.
All in all, a deeply unusual and complex spin on petite sirah, and clear proof this is a varietal capable of much more complexity that it often gets credit for. Your autumn-to-winter table will certainly be enhanced by the presence of this wine, and should you happen to go for something like, oh, I don’t know, duck cracklins and blackberry gastrique (more on this soon!), you might just achieve gourmand nirvana.