2014 Cherry Ridge Vineyard Syrah
Cherry Ridge juts out over the west side of Green Valley just north of the Petaluma Wind Gap. This scenic vineyard enjoys a south facing slope at the top of the ridge, making it a proverbial "warm spot in a cold area". Cherry Ridge is just temperate enough to ripen Syrah in a region best known for the cold-loving Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Just over three acres are planted, split between clones 470, 383 and 877, for the balance of bright fruit, white pepper spice, and plush tannins that we love. The 2014 vintage was another exceptional one for Russian River Valley red wines. The dry spring gave the vines a great jump on the growing season and excellent flowering weather. The summer and fall brought classic Russian River Valley fog and sun patterns with no sustained heat spikes. This gave us a long post veraison season for exceptional phenolic ripening, and tremendous depth of fruit. We harvested our Syrah right after our pinot came in, on October 6.
In the traditional fashion, our Syrah is fermented in small open top fermenters, where punchdowns impart a softness which so compliment the depth inherent in this varietal. The fruit is hand sorted and destemmed, and the must is cold-soaked for 5 days in order to gently extract color, spice and fruit characters, while mitigating harsher tannins. One of two tanks was fermented with 40% whole clusters. After fermentation, the wine is racked into French oak to age. During its 20 months of barrel aging, this wine was racked twice: once for initial blending and barrel honing, and a second time to further bring along flavor and tannin development. We always start out with fewer new barrels than it might end up in, both to finesse the amount of new wood, and to season some new barrels with white fermentation before using them in the final Syrah aging. The wine was bottled in June of 2016.
Another drought year leading to water stressed vines produced a richly phenolic wine further intensified with a healthy dose of whole cluster fermentation. Swirling the glass offers up dizzying aromas of freshly picked berries and mom’s delights roasting in the kitchen: blackberries, cherry pie, pepper, tobacco and bacon. The skillful addition of new wood is expressed in the subtle nuance of vanilla and smoke. A velvety pillow greets the palate, followed by luscious blackberries, balanced acidity and sturdy yet refined tannins that linger alongside pleasing notes of berry and crispy bacon. Indelibly a food wine, this Syrah demands the attention of your hardiest recipes.
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