The question seems almost inevitable, and today Paul addresses it; the question of alcohol levels in zinfandel. Enjoy Q & A # 5 in our special ten-question series with Paul Draper!
5- Your Zinfandel based wines such as Geyserville and Lytton Springs have low alcohol levels as compared to other wines made with Zinfandel. Why is it so and how can they age so gracefully for so many years?
Zinfandel must be grown in warmer climates like Napa, Sonoma or Paso Robles to develop the fruit flavors that give it its character. As with the over-ripe Cabernets of Napa today, Zinfandel only needs to be fully ripe, not over-ripe, to produce the most complex, age-worthy wines. It does ripen quickly if days of very warm temperatures come during harvest; however, if you are sampling carefully and are determined not to make over-ripe wines, that can usually be avoided. We have worked with over fifty old-vine Zinfandel vineyards over the last forty years. The Geyserville we first made in 1966 and it has proven to be one of the most consistently fine wines. Likewise we first made the Lytton Springs in 1972 and it has rivaled the Geyserville in its consistency of quality and ageability. We took over the Geyserville vineyard in 1990 and purchased Lytton Springs in 1991 because of the quality of those terroirs. All but a few of the others were dropped after a year or after ten years. These wines come from particularly great sites.
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(“10 Questions for Paul Draper” questions composed by Rodrigo Mainardi of Mistral, Brazlian Distributor for Ridge Vineyards)