The fruit for both of these wines comes from Lisa and Cliff's home ranch. Both wines are from the excellent harvest of 2019, a very temperate vintage, without heat spikes and without threat from wild fires. While I was concentrating on finding vineyards in Southern California and establishing the Los Angeles winery, Lisa harvested the fruit and and fermented it in small wooden fermenters, just as I had done for years in the same winery. We then allowed the wines to mature undisturbed for three years and did not even consider bottling them until July of this year. We tasted them together for the first time on July 11. Once our harvest in Los Angeles was over, Kaeley and I returned to Suisun Valley, tasted the barrels, loaded them on a truck and brought them to our urban winery. We racked and blended and bottled them a month ago, and now the wines are ready for release to you. These are the wines:
2019 HOUSE OF ASTERION
100% Petite Sirah, grown from cuttings from Steve's Jones Ranch planting— the source of our remarkable Babylon wines. Deep and dark and severe, showing the true excellence of Petite Sirah. Just like a more recent version of Babylon: not a big or blocky wine, but complex and graceful even as it is powerful. It reminds me of Priorat. The soil in the vineyard is not particularly rocky, but the wine seems nonetheless very slate-driven.
The name of this wine comes from Jorge Luis Borges' story about the Minotaur— told from the Minotaur's perspective. I am not sure why, but as we were bringing both of these wines to completion, both seemed powerfully literary to me. Perhaps because they originated so far from Los Angeles and our desert vineyards here, they seemed profoundly exotic to me— even foreign. There is also something wonderful about walking away for 3 years, coming back, and finding something beautiful. All of this made me think of the tales of Borges; perhaps some time when we are together, I will tell you why the Minotaur.
2019 PETER QUINCE AT THE CLAVIER
This is a sister to the first wine: a blend of Petite Sirah and Zinfandel, in the old field-blend regime honored by the wines of Ridge. The fruit is from Lisa and Cliff's home ranch, but from a different pick, and a different fermentation, than the House of Asterion. I brought a barrel sample of this wine with me on a recent trip to New York, because I needed guidance in how to think about it. The wine showed none of the imposing severity of the House of Asterion; instead, it was utterly seductive, inviting, flattering. This is the influence of the Zinfandel, but wedded to the severe Petite. The result is seductive, but not easy: Marlena Dietrich in Touch of Evil.
The name comes from the experience of showing the wine to my friends: they were all knocked out by its irresistible charms; one pointed to its nearly carnal pleasure against a background of structure and power. The experience immediately made me think of one of my favorite poems, Peter Quince at the Clavier, by Wallace Stevens. I will let you read it, and point only to this: Stevens is a poet sometimes disfavored for his cold metaphysicality. This poem is warm and musical, but not without a sense of difficulty.
The pair of wines are offered at a 40% discount.
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