This Saturday will be the final edition of Winter Wine Series in the Ridge Vineyards Tasting Rooms (Lytton Springs & Monte Bello), and we’re closing out the run with a lovely selection of wines to sample. As we always do with Winter Wine Series, we’ll be featuring wines from some our specially assembled Holiday Gift Packs, and for this final Saturday, we’ll be presenting wines from our “Buchignani” Holiday Pack, and our “ATP” Holiday Pack. Which means guests will not only have the opportunity to taste some of our most limited-production, winery-only offerings, but they will also be afforded the chance to sample wines crafted from some of the oldest plantings in our portfolio.
Let’s take a look at the Buchigani pack first. This is a two-bottle offering consisting of wines from the Buchignani Ranch, a beautiful old-vine vineyard located on the Northwestern edge of the Alexander Valley appellation, in the hills bordering the upper Dry Creek Valley appellation. Specifically, Stan Buchignani’s ranch is located on Dutcher Creek Road.
The wines on offer are the 2005 Buchignani Ranch Zinfandel, and the 2007 Buchignani Ranch Carigane. The carignane in particular is quite a singular wine; a rare case of carignane being offered in solo-varietal capacity.
The majority of the vineyard’s carignane was planted in the 1940s. Stan’s grandfather, Dominico Cerruti, planted the first block in 1927; his father, Dino, planted the last in the early 1950s. The vineyard’s climate bears a strong resemblance to that of upper Dry Creek Valley three miles to the south, where days are warm. Fog, which tends to hang low in the valley, burns off sooner in the hills. Carignane from Buchignani is complex, its fine structure much like that of a field-blend zinfandel. The zinfandel from this property is equally notable; the zinfandel block, approximately five acres in size, was planted in the 1940s and ’50s on a rocky knoll overlooking the family home, where Stan Buchignani, grandson of the ranch’s founder, Dominico Cerruti, lives today. Together, these wines reflect a truly remarkable property in all its rustic glory.
And now, on to the “ATP” pack. For those of you who might not be familiar, ATP stands for Advance Tasting Program, and it is one of our three member programs here at Ridge. Launched in 1978, the Advance Tasting Program (ATP) provides members the opportunity to receive very limited, single-vineyard wines. Though past releases have included several other varietals, zinfandel and Rhone blends remain the primary focus.
For this particular Holiday Pack, we have selected a trio of zinfandels from three very unique properties; the 2004 Oltranti, the 2006 Old School, and the 2006 Dusi Ranch. The Oltranti and the Old School vineyards are both located in Alexander Valley, and the Dusi Ranch down in Paso Robles. This affords tasters an excellent opportunity to assess the degree to which micro-climatic singularities (terroir, if you will) can deeply affect the character of a wine. Plus, we have different vintages on offer here, 2004 for the Oltranti, and 2006 for both the Old School and the Dusi; an equally instructive opportunity, allowing for a look at how bottle age and maturation will develop the aesthetic profile of a wine. And lastly, we have some great family history here as well; with both the Oltranti and the Dusi Ranch, guests will be sampling the wares of dedicated family producers. Niccolo and Flora Oltranti purchased the old Mazzoni Home Ranch in 1987 (where the Oltranti planting is located). They set about restoring this historic property, working on the buildings and tending the surviving nineteenth-century vines. Once the old vines recovered, Nic and son Paul turned to the abandoned hillside vineyards above. Replanted to an old zinfandel field selection, these young vines (the Oltranti planting) have begun to produce the quality that seems inherent to this exceptional zinfandel site. And as to the Dusi Ranch property, Ridge and the Dusis go way back. The zinfandel on this Paso Robles ranch was first planted in 1923. It was purchased soon after by Sylvester and Catarina Dusi, who raised three sons there—Guido, Dante, and Benito. When Guido and Dante went to war in 1944, vineyard cultivation was left to Sylvester and young Benito—eleven at the time. Beni, as his many friends call him, maintained the vines from then on. Ridge’s long relationship with Beni and the Dusi vineyard began when Dave Bennion—scouting the area in 1967—knocked on the Dusi’s door and asked to buy five tons of grapes.
And that’s the scoop on this weekend’s offering! If you will be in the area of either Lytton Springs or Monte Bello, I heartily encourage you to stop in and sample these fine offerings. Looking forward to seeing you! And don’t forget, net proceeds from all the tasting fees for Winter Wine Series are being donated to local food banks!
For more information about Winter Wine Series please click here, to see the weekend tasting flights for Lytton Springs please click here, and to see the weekend tasting flights for Monte Bello please click here.