Upon return from a trip to Cote-Rotie in January of 2006, Ruben set out to plant a vineyard identical to those he saw on the steep slopes overlooking the Rhone River. Perched above Ballard Creek, Ruben chose the steepest exposure on the ranch. Ruben planted 6,000 Syrah vines crammed into a single acre. Each vine is head-pruned to keep the tightly spaced vines compact – the Syrah grows from the ground-up every year, rather than from a permanent horizontal cordon. For further fruit purity, Ruben own-rooted the vines without American rootstock.
Each vine yields only 2 to 3 grape clusters – granting flavor concentration and complexity. Like Cote-Rotie, Ruben’s Block faces east. In Ballard Canyon, east facing vines receive intense sunshine in stillness - before afternoon winds begin fluttering the leaves as the sun moves west thought the afternoon.
After farming this revolutionary, extremely high-density one-acre block for 9 years, we jumped off and planted 12 more acres (72,000 vines) in this format. Along with Ruben’s Block, this new acreage will continue to define the potential quality of Ballard Canyon.
As of the Ruben’s Block Syrah release, the fresh red fruit has evolved towards more seductive ripeness while still possessing a liveliness across the palate. The deep, round, fragrant red fruit gets beautiful backing from soft sage and fennel character in the darker core with hints of star anise and forest floor.
93 points The Wine AdvocateIt’s a smoking effort that offers up beautifully pure aromas and flavors of black raspberry, cassis, chocolate, crushed rocks and violets that flow to a medium to full-bodied, pure and layered palate feel.