As winemaker for Diamond Ridge, I thought I'd explain a few things about the wine we're offering.
Diamond Ridge Vineyards is a pretty interesting site for Petite Sirah. To begin with, Lake County in general is a great place to grow this variety because it is almost entirely fog-free. Petite Sirah has very tight clusters resembling a hand grenade, and is thin skinned as well, so it sour-rots very easily if there is fog or humidity. Lake County’s dry air minimizes rot and its thin air and full sun creates a high UV condition that not only suppresses mildew but also stimulates PS to make lavish quantities of anthocyanin pigments and the cofactors which help extract them.
Besides the attractive appearance of wines with good color, anthocyanins also contribute positively to texture. Petite Sirah’s high tannin levels can form in many directions, and left to themselves will polymerize into long chains which bind strongly to salivary proteins, resulting in wines which are harsh and dry with poor longevity. Anthocyanins cannot daisy-chain like other phenolics, and act like bookends on polymerization. The more color, the shorter the tannins. Short tannins have a more refined, silky impression which supports rather than masking flavors.
The downside of high sunlight is the potential to burn off fruit and cause raisining. In many Lake County sites, the wines have wonderful structure but limited aromatic expression. Not so at Diamond Ridge. Its location on a peninsula extending into the southeast corner of Clear Lake produces a lake effect which has us reaching for our sweaters every afternoon about 3 PM. Check out the videos on our website (URL below). Our 2010 possesses not only exceptional blueberry fruit, but also high-pitched lavender and rose notes characteristic of cool sites.
A final advantage of this site is its volcanic decomposed granite soil, which contributes considerable minerality to our wines. By this I do not mean a smell or taste of stone, but a sort of buzz in the finish which gives a liveliness to the palate and, in my experience, contributes considerable longevity.
100% Petite Sirah Clone 3
100% Diamond Ridge Vineyards, Clear Lake AVA
24.9 Brix at harvest, October 20th
Inoculated with Anchor N112 yeast
Fermented on 7 g/L untoasted Alliers chips (to promote color extraction)
6 weeks micro-oxygenation pre ML to stabilize color and structure
17 months in neutral French oak
Alcohol 14.1% (label says 14.5%)
TA 6.9 g/L, pH 3.78 at bottling
A dense violet color with a pure, fresh nose of blueberry laced with rose and lavender perfume, hints of sage and Ample tannins are dense, silky and firm, supporting rich blueberry flavors accented by firm acidity and a minerally finish. Restrained alcohol and very little apparent oak.
Requiring perhaps another five to eight years to soften its texture to silky velvet, the wine's remarkable tannin structure, firm acidity and minerality indicate that it will continue to gain complexity for at least two more decades with proper cellaring.
I hope some of you who tasted this wine at Dark & Delicious can put in your two cents.
Diamond Ridge Vineyards is also home to the largest commercial-scale Cabernet Sauvignon clonal library in California, and produces an exceptional Cabernet Franc and Merlot, all of which are blended into our flagship Bordeaux-style called Aspects. These wines are available at www.twojakesofdiamonds.com.