2017 Wirz Vineyard Old Vine Riesling
2017 Sonoma Valley Sauvignon Blanc
Almost entirely from the stony and steep slopes of Kenwood’s Uboldi Vineyard, our 2017 Sonoma Valley SB shows the weight and richness of the 2017 vintage. Full of aromatically lifted melon fruit, this wine really shines in the mouth – its mouthwatering density almost surprising for a variety often defined by herbal character and paucity of weight. The wine was partially barrel fermented in lightly toasted Stockinger barrels and cigares and partially fermented in stainless steel. This is SB that dances the calypso. $22
2017 Ode To Lulu Rose Magnum
Our 2017 iteration of this wine is one of my favorites to date. Made from old vine Mataro/Mourvedre (75%) and Grenache, this wine extracts the limpid essence of beautiful old fruit and lets it show through nervy and delicious rosé. All lots for the wine were picked at low potential alcohol and whole-cluster pressed, leaving behind the signature faint salmon color. Despite the light color, this feels perhaps the most “Bandol-esque” iteration of this wine we have made – capturing the mix of savory Mataro and spicy and racy Grenache we love so much. This is dangerously drinkable stuff! $45/1.5
2017 Ode To Lulu Rose
Our 2017 iteration of this wine is one of my favorites to date. Made from old vine Mataro/Mourvedre (75%) and Grenache, this wine extracts the limpid essence of beautiful old fruit and lets it show through nervy and delicious rosé. All lots for the wine were picked at low potential alcohol and whole-cluster pressed, leaving behind the signature faint salmon color. Despite the light color, this feels perhaps the most “Bandol-esque” iteration of this wine we have made – capturing the mix of savory Mataro and spicy and racy Grenache we love so much. This is dangerously drinkable stuff! $19/750ml
2016 Wirz Vineyard Riesling
It’s back! From the second oldest Riesling Vineyard we know of in California, located in (get out the wine atlas!) the Cienega Valley and planted in 1963. It is heartening to see a few wines coming from this vineyard these days, which is a testament to the patience of owner Pat Wirz, who somehow kept the vineyard in the ground while getting paid a pittance from larger wine operations. These vines are own-rooted in the unique mix of limestone and decomposed granite found around the Gabilan Range. There is also a trace of interplanted “Franken Riesling”—aka Sylvaner—in the blend. The fruit was whole-cluster pressed and fermented with native yeasts in a neutral oak tank to complete dryness. This is Riesling with a savory inflection, replete with the garrigue of the Cienega Valley along with the grape’s signature florals. Based on the progress of the 2014 this should continue to evolve nicely in bottle for a while, gradually taking on a hint of classic petrol.
2016 Weill a Way Mixed Blacks
A hillside vineyard on the western flank of Sonoma Valley, we make a small amount of co-fermented “Mixed Blacks” from the vineyard every year. Although, after some wine writer named Bob made the Syrah from this vineyard famous around the world, we feel this cool hillside side’s expression of Zinfandel, Mataro, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Alicante Bouschet and a little Tempranillo is equally worthy of praise. Unlike our wines from older vineyards this wine is best enjoyed for its dark core and youthful bravado. $36
The 2016 Weill a Way Mixed Blacks emerges from younger vines in a relatively cool site for Zinfandel-based wines. There is lovely density to the inky blue/purplish fruit. Soft, plush fruit and silky tannins give the wine its considerable near term appeal and allure. This is one of the more approachable wines in the range. Zinfandel, Grenache, Mataro, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet and Tempranillo are all feature in this distinctive, alluring wine from Bedrock. 92 points -Antonio Galloni
2016 Under The Mountain Heritage Wine
Santa Clara County: Believe it or not, Santa Clara county is historically one of the more important wine growing regions in California. Back before the march of tract homes and highways, business campuses and colleges, grapes from the ranch of Leland Stanford, Charles LeFranc and and a fella’ with the last name Pellier, were valued as much as those from Napa and Sonoma and beyond. This vineyards survival, which is located a couple hundred feet below the cutoff for the Santa Cruz Mountain AVA, is a bit of a miracle and owes its new lease on life to the hard work and investment of the Gregory family. We currently receive fruit from a lightly mixed block of Zinfandel and a bit of Carignan that rests on the well-drained slopes. This is one of the most elegant wines we made in the great 2016 vintage, defined by soaring perfume and mouthwatering fruit and spice. I only wish there was more of it to go around! $39
2016 The Bedrock Heritage Red
This is the wine I started the winery to make. From vines planted by Senator George Hearst in 1888, this is the geographic and viticultural center of everything else we do. 2016 is one of my favorite Bedrock Heritage wines to date, as I tend to prefer vintages that are less about immediate fruit intensity and ripeness and more in line with the old-school “California Claret” these vines were originally planted to make. This wine is more in line with the 2013 than the 2008 or 2015. The wine, a blend of the 27 varieties interplanted at our family’s vineyard is roughly 50% Zinfandel, 20% Carignan, 4% Mataro with the reminder being everything else found in the field. The rocky site yielded a small amount of dense and balanced fruit and as always this wine features the savory, spice-infused character of Sonoma Valley. This wine will last a long time and decanting is highly recommended if consuming in the next few years. I have had a few of the more recent vintage wines that really show nicely after 12-24 hours of double-decanting—there is a lot of goodness coiled in this one.
2016 Staves of Waidhofen Sauvignon Blanc
Aged completely in barrels from the centuries-old Stockinger cooperage located in the Austrian Alps. Though this sees a fair amount of new oak, the barrels from Stockinger are some of the most perfect for white wine I have ever worked with. Remarkably, this wine is a bit more high-pitched and taught than the Sonoma Valley SB this year. This is in part due to the inclusion of Judge Vineyard in Bennett Valley along with a single barrel of Alder Springs Sauvignon Blanc from the northern wilds of Mendocino. If the Sonoma Valley Sauvignon Blanc is a bit richer and more Bordeaux or “California Fume´ Blanc”-esque, this wine has a bit more in common with the Loire, which is a bit counter-intuitive given the new oak. But hey, that’s the beauty of wine for you!
2016 Sonoma Valley Sauvignon Blanc
This wine is almost entirely from the lovely Uboldi Ranch, which is planted on some of the only Sandy Goldridge Loam outcroppings in Sonoma Valley. Located to the south of the town of Kenwood as the valley hills begin to creep towards Sonoma Mountain, the site is both steep and rocky, which helps balance the natural vigor of the Sauvignon Blanc vines. Our section of the vineyard is planted exclusively to Musqué clone, which I prefer for its soaring aromatics. In order to give ourselves the most options when assembling the blend we fermented the wine in a combination of stainless steel tank at cold temperature, cigare barrels (the same used by Dagueneau in the Loire) and smaller piece. Though normally we tend to get pretty close to 50% of each in the final blend, we found that the increased texture and expressiveness provided by the barrel-fermented lots was too hard to resist, and the final wine this year saw 95% barrel fermentation. Of that just about 17% of it is new. It is so much fun to make Sauvignon Blanc!
2016 Schmiedt Road Zinfandel
My favorite year for our Lodi Zin since the inaugural 2012 Kirschenmann Vineyard! At its best, the wines from this area of Lodi combine elegance and perfume (sandy soils) with the unique meatiness and and weight that comes from being in a warmer locale. Composed of lots from the neighboring Katushas’ and Kirschenmann vineyards, both planted circa 1915, the wine was aged in French cooperage ranging from 228-liter piece to 600-gallon foudre with limited new oak exposure. Aromatic and expressive, this wine will be lovely after a few hours in a decanter for nearer term drinking (though like most Bedrock wines, will also benefit from some time sideways in the cellar). Drink 2018-2025
2016 Pato Vineyard Heritage Wine
Though we have farmed this vineyard for four years, this is our first wine from this beautiful place. Planted in 1905 and located on the interior edge of Oakley, this well-known site (Ridge, Rosenblum, Neyers and others have vineyard-designated it in the past) is own-rooted and planted on the famous Delhi sands that define the area. The wine is a completely different expression of the area than Evangelho—the site tends towards slightly higher pHs and a riper expression of the area. Here, dark fruit dominates, in part due to the larger percentage of Petite Sirah. The sandy soils provide supple texture and polish but there is considerable fruit weight. This will be lovely now, with a good decant, or with some bottle time. Drink 2018-2025
2016 Papera Ranch Heritage Wine
Though always the pinnacle of consistency, despite its cool location, the 2016 Papera Ranch Heritage seems to take the site to another level. Vibrant and expressive blue fruits combine with spice and the lovely texture and savory notes that great Carignan can bring. This is a wine of melding opposition, of size and subtlety, of freshness and ripeness, and near-term deliciousness and long-term ageability. There is not a vintage that goes by that I don’t feel deep appreciation for owner Stuart Coulson, who saved the vineyard from an ignoble ending, and Mike Officer, who introduced me to this singular block of fruit. $39 A powerful, explosive wine, the 2016 Papera Heritage Wine is presently dominated by its acids and tannin. Even so, there is a fabulous density, a huge core of fruit and tons of supporting structure. Readers will have to be patient, as the 2016 is built for the cellar. Even at this early stage, the 2016 Papera is simply stunning. Quite unusually, the Papera is only about 50% Zinfandel and then 40% Carignane, plus a handful of other varieties. 95+ points -Antonio Galloni
2016 Pagani Ranch Heritage Wine
Always a crowd favorite, the 2016 Pagani is a dark and dense wine with many mysteries to tell over the coming years. A field-blend planted in the 1880s, our blocks at Pagani Ranch are 40-60% Zinfandel, the remainder being composed of Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Carignan, Mataro, Mission, Lenoir, Petit Bouschet, Semillon, Aramon and more. When looking at the great Sonoma Valley "Grand Cru" old vine sites we get to work with, Pagani plays the Charlie Munger to Bedrock Vineyard’s Warren Buffett- just as smart but perhaps a little more direct and immediately likeable. Drink 2019-2030
2016 Old Vine Zinfandel
We take immense pride in the quality of this wine as we want it to reflect how good California’s beloved Zinfandel can be. A quick glimpse at what goes into it tells most of the story. In order of percentage, the wine comes from Bedrock Vineyard, Teldeschi Ranch, Sodini Ranch, Nervo Ranch, Katushas, Evangelho, Esola, Casa Santinamaria, and Story Vineyard. It is about 88% Zinfandel blended with Petite Sirah, Carignan, Alicante Bouschet and many different interplanted varieties that maintain poise and add complexity and structure. This has plenty of juiciness and should be delightful in the nearer term with a good decant; however, as many have discovered this wine will age gracefully and improve with time in bottle.
2016 Ode to Lulu Rose
The 2016 Lulu follows closely on the footsteps of the 2015: The vineyard and blend composition is similar and it is, as always, from old and low yielding vineyards. The Mataro element comes from two lovely but quite different vineyards. Live Oak Vineyard, planted sometime around the inauguration of William Mckinley, is an Oakley vineyard own-rooted in sand. Pagani Ranch, which needs little introduction, was planted close to the onset of Prohibition in Kenwood. To complement these two we blended in Grenache from the 1880s planting at Gibson Ranch in McDowell Valley (Mendocino). All lots were picked at low potential alcohol and whole-cluster pressed. This year’s iteration is more aromatically explosive than I remember last year’s being—the oftentimes stentorian Mataro showing off a bit more playfulness and the Grenache providing oodles of crunchy bright fruit.
2016 Oakville Farmhouse Heritage Wine
A true "Grand Cru" site, the tiny Oakville Farmhouse Vineyard lies on the far western side of the appellation under the vineyards of Harlan and Promontory. Planted in the 1930s (making it the oldest vineyard in Oakville), the vineyard is a field-blend of Negrette, Petite Sirah, Mondeuse, Zinfandel, Carignan, Chenin Blanc and more. Fermented in open-top tank, the wine was aged, without racking, for 15 months in 228L piece, 35% of which were new Taransaud and Boutes barrels. Intensely perfumed and well-balanced, this is a wine of the old-guard "claret" mold and will reward aging. Drink 2019-2030
Yes, a Bedrock wine meant to be consumed early! This wine was made like Beaujolais Nouveau, but I might suggest it comes from more interesting vineyard material than your typical stuff. The wine is a blend of Zinfandel from Esola Vineyard, planted on granitic schist at 1600’ in the Amador foothills along with the oldest Cinsault in the country, own-rooted and planted in the 1880s, from Bechthold Vineyard in Lodi. Both lots were fermented using carbonic maceration in our small concrete tank. The resulting wine is aromatic, juicy and slurpable. Nouveau is traditionally a fete of the most recent harvest, and 2016 was a great vintage in California deserving some early celebration. Drink up!
2016 North Coast Syrah
As usual, this one is a ripping bargain for what goes into it. There is a limit to the amount of high-end Syrah we want to make and this is the windfall (wine-fall? Ugh, dad jokes). A blend of Hudson, Weill, Gibson Ranch and a trace of Shake Ridge, the wine saw roughly 40% whole-cluster inclusion and includes/was blended with 2% co-fermented Viognier. Peppery, meaty and full of Syrah violets, this will certainly be our house-wine this winter. Drink 2018-2025
2016 Montecillo Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon
Moon Mountain District: From dry-farmed vines planted in the 1960s at 2000’ overlooking Sonoma Valley. I love this vineyard and this wine. Farmed by Chuy Ordaz this survivor Cab site makes intense, old-school, mountain Cabernet that retains great refinement. The 2016 is a classic example of the site, showing the gorgeous cassis, pipe tobacco, camphor and pepper that scream “Claret!” in a lovely British accent. This wine, though polished, will last a long time. $60
Even though it has just been bottled, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Montecillo Vineyard is superb. Powerful and tightly wound, the 2016 is nevertheless quite expressive, with tremendous aromatic and flavor intensity to match the firm, hillside tannins. Hints of cedar, tobacco, licorice and leather gradually develop in the glass, but it will be years before the 2016 is ready to offer its best drinking. There is so much potential here. 94+ points -Antonio Galloni
2016 Monte Rosso Zinfandel
Our last vintage from this storied and beautiful vineyard, a fact that almost brings me to tears as I write this. As heartbreaking as it is to have this fruit taken away from us, the good news is that the 2016 is a wine for the ages. This reminds me most of my father’s 1993 version from this site—a wine that is still vibrant and hauntingly perfumed 25 years later. Tight-knit and structured, this wine has the classic citrus and pit fruit tinctured perfume of the ranch backed by vibrant and dense fruit. This one will need some time but has great promise.
2016 Lorenzo's Heritage Wine
From vines at Teldeschi Ranch that my family has worked with since 1982, this is a muscular and dense wine composed of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Carignan along with small amounts of field-blended Cinsault, Peloursin and Vaccarese. The richness of Dry Creek Zinfandel is balanced here by elegant, knife-like Carignan and feral, wild Petite Sirah that come from distinct blocks at John Teldeschi’s ranch. This wine should give years of enjoyment as the layers begin to unfurl. $39The Petite-based 2016 Lorenzo Heritage Wine is another stellar wine from Teldeschi Ranch in Dry Creek Valley. Swaths of tannin enshroud a core of intense dark fruit, while hints of smoke, leather, tobacco and menthol add myriad shades of nuance. Powerful, brooding and explosive, the Lorenzo has a lot to say, but it also needs bottle age to be at its best. The Lorenzo's is a blend of Petite Sirah (and some mixed blacks, a block of Zinfandel planted in the early 1900s and a parcel of Carignane. 93+ points -Antonio Galloni
2016 Limerick Lane Zinfandel
Our tiny block of 1910-planted Zinfandel yielded a scant 1.5 tons in 2016, meaning that there are less than 1000 bottles of this wine to go around. Though meager in output this vineyard created a gorgeous, multi-faceted, wine that is true to the amazing site where it is grown. One of my favorite wines we have made from this all-star site. $39 The 2016 Zinfandel Limerick Lane Vineyard captures a very intriguing stylistic middle ground, with plenty of the dense, powerful fruit this site is famous for, but also a good bit of finesse as well. Dark and expansive, the 2016 is a wine of notable intensity. Limerick Lane sits on the border of Dry Creek and Russian River, which is one of the reasons the wines are so intriguing. Bedrock sources fruit from the 1910 block, where the oldest vines on the estate are found. 95 points- Antonio Galloni
2016 Judge Sauvignon Blanc
In exceptional years we make a single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc from this vineyard in the cool Bennett Valley Gap. Done exclusively in a blend of older French oak, new cigare barrels and Stockinger barrels this is one of my favorite SB’s we have made. Judge Vineyard, though not planted to the musque clone, always has head spinning perfume. Red cassis, pink grapefruit and peppercorn jump out. In a year like 2016, this is matched by surprising intensity and weight that sits atop all the nerve you would expect from a wine with a finished pH of under 3.3.
2016 Griffins Lair Syrah
From the windswept Petaluma Gap area, which is officially its own deserved AVA of the Sonoma Coast, this is always one of the most distinct Syrah’s we make. Co-fermented with 10% Viognier and vinified using 80% whole-cluster, this is gorgeously perfumed Syrah that retains finesse despite the dense core. Like most of our wines this will age very nicely but hopefully it should not be too fearsome with a long decant if you like enjoying wines on the more brazen side with hearty fare. $42An arresting, gorgeous wine, the 2016 Syrah Griffin's Lair Vineyard is a big, full-throttle expression of cool-climate Syrah. Black pepper, game, smoke, licorice, tobacco and incense all hit the palate in this potent, strapping Syrah. Readers should expect an intense, explosive Syrah with tons of acid and structure behind the fruit. The 80% whole clusters and 10% Viognier add to the wine's savory profile and hauntingly beautiful aromatics. 96 points- Antonio Galloni
2016 Evangelho Heritage Red
I still cannot believe that we somehow own this unbelievable unicorn of a vineyard. Perched on banks of deep sand on the windy edge of the Sacramento River Delta this vineyard of own-rooted, 120-year-old vines produces vibrant and personality-filled wines unlike anything else we make. Though all the blocks are field-blends and co-fermented, I would estimate this wine is about 60% Zinfandel and 35% Mataro, with the remainder being Carignane, Palomino and a few other odds and ends. This features racy and vibrant fruit that is pleasantly funkified but the presence of the savory Mataro. Raised predominately in large foudre, this wine probably resembles a wine from the Southern Rhone as much as a “Zinfandel” from California. As always, the incredibly suave tannins from the sandy soils at the ranch make for a high-tone and elegant red wine.
2016 Esola Zinfandel
Since starting to work with this vineyard in 2014, the wines have continually redefined what I thought possible from Amador County. Elegant and poised, the 2016 has the immense perfume this site can be capable of—the fermentations often smell like grapefruit and cherries—with the line and structure common to Amador County. As in previous years, this is a blend of two different lots from the same block at the vineyard. The first is pressed off at dryness and typically has fresher perfume but rawer tannic structure. The second sees extended maceration on the skins for 20-30 days to help reconcile the structure, a process that makes for more refined structure and deeper fruit tone. As in 2015, this is one of my favorites from the vintage.
2016 Dolinsek Heritage Red
A poster child of generously endowed, but still vibrant, Russian River Valley old vines. These stunning little bonsai vines date to 1910 and cling to a steep, north-facing slope of Sandy Goldridge Loam off of Laguna Road. A field-blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Barbera, Syrah, Black Muscat, Palomino, and even a single vine of Mourastel, this wine, as in most years, is ready to impress in its youth. This is one to break into while you wait for Bedrock Heritage and Monte Rosso to come around.
2016 Cuvee Karatas
Based around the oldest Semillon plantings in the country, if not the world, Cuvee Karatas is a "Bordeaux Blanc" style wine with a California inflection (hella NorCal bro!). Fermented and aged entirely in barrel, this is "serious" white wine that will reward aging. Monte Rosso Semillon, planted in the 1880s on Lenoir rootstock, provides the dense core to this wine. Sauvignon Musque from Uboldi Vineyard in Kenwood contributes expressive aromatics and tension. This is unfortunately our last foreseeable vintage of this wine as we lost our contract on the Semillon. Drink 2019-2030
2016 Compagni Portis Heritage White
This is always one of my hands-down favorite wines we make each year. The combination of field-blended Gewurztraminer, Trousseau Gris, Riesling, and Roter Veltliner always morph slightly according to vintage conditions. For instance, the 2015 showed off more of the Gewurztraminer richness that comes in a warmer year. The wine from the more moderate 2016 displays plenty of Gewurz perfume but also some of the stoniness and leavening acidity from the other varieties.
2016 Cole Ranch Riesling, Zweiter Zweieiiger Zwilling
Zweiter Zweieiiger Zwilling, or Second Fraternal Twin, was picked at the same time as the Erster but made in a German Spätlese style with only 9% alcohol and 85 g/l of residual sugar. Having no idea whether we would like it or not, we made a tiny amount of this wine. However, we think it is a fascinating handcuff as it is so different from its drier sibling. Though the sweetness gives an impression of baby fat, the aromatics and internal density and acidity (pH is nearly 3.0) of the wine indicate it will have a long future. Drink 2018-2030
2016 Cole Ranch Riesling, Erster Zweieiiger Zwilling
Thanks to the intrepidness of our assistant winemaker, Cody Rasmussen, we started working with this gorgeous vineyard in 2016. Planted in 1974, Cole Ranch is unique in that it is a monopole AVA—meaning the only vineyard in the appellation is Cole Ranch itself. Located on the road between Ukiah and Boonville in Mendocino, the ranch lies in relative isolation from other vineyards (not so much for all the cannabis grown in the surrounding hills). In 2016 we decided to make two wines from the ranch: the first, Erster Zweieiiger Zwilling, or First Fraternal Twin, which was fermented to complete dryness. Floral (gardenia?) and perfumed, this features gorgeous aromatics and high-tone structure, with racy, mineral drive. Maybe my favorite Riesling we have made to date. Drink 2018-2024
2016 Chuy Chardonnay
Our first Chardonnay since 2010 and our first vintage from this gorgeous, dry-farmed vineyard planted in 1974 at 1000’. Planted to shot-berry Wente on St. George rootstock, we name the wine, like other wineries, for Chuy Ordaz who both planted the vineyard and continues to tend it today. Picked at 22.5 brix and barrel fermented in a mix of lightly toasted Stockinger barrels and older vessels this wine is floral, textured and spicy stuff with pretty linear drive and quince and pear fruit. It’s fun to make Chardonnay when the fruit is this great!
2016 Carlisle Vineyard Zinfandel
From the lovely vineyard of our friends Mike and Kendall Officer, this wine is always one of my favorites for its gorgeous fruit and classic RRV aromatics. Made from vines approaching their 90th birthday located in the Piner-Olivet area of the Russian River Valley, this is a wine of dark hue and vibrant perfume—I tend to eschew using fruit descriptors on wines, but there always seems to be a distinct spiced mulberry component to this wine. Luxurious and fruit-forward, this will provide great drinking pleasure after decanting or age nicely for up to a decade. Drink 2018-2025
2016 Alta Vista Gewurztraminer
Somewhere back in the 1940s, someone was crazy enough to plant 2.5 acres of dry-farmed Gewurztraminer on a steep and loosely-terraced hillside above their homestead overlooking Sonoma Valley. Though the vineyard had been abandoned for a couple of years, when we took over farming in 2013, we were completely ensnarled by the sheer insanity of its mere presence. After five years of pouring TLC and resources into the place to bring it back to fruitfulness, fire burned through the vineyard. From above it looked like we may have lost it. Fortune somehow shined on the site, and though the ground burned under the vines they have somehow survived. All profits from the 70 cases of wine made from the vineyard in 2016 will be donated to wildfire relief charities. Drink 2018-2024
2015 Weill a Way Mixed Blacks
Weill Vineyard lies at the mouth of Sonoma Valley and technically within the boundaries of the sprawling and gerrymandered Sonoma Coast appellation. It is certainly a much cooler site than would normally be able to effectively ripen Zinfandel, Grenache, Mataro, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet and Tempranillo effectively, but by severely limiting crop we are able to ensure effective ripening— particularly in a warm year like 2015. This is forward and tasty stuff that will reward earlier drinking with a good decant.
2015 Staves of Waidhofen Sauvignon Blanc
Yeah, quite the name huh? I wanted to call it “Stockie” but Chris protested the name due to years of painful childhood clothes shopping experiences. I mean, I would not mind if we called the wine “Precocious” or “Preternaturally Talented” despite MY childhood memories, but whatever. The real story behind the wine goes back to our trips to France and Italy. There, in the cellars of Conterno, Tempier, Canarelli, Graillot and many more we tasted wines from vessels made by an Austrian cooper called Stockinger. The wines were invariably our favorite in every cellar, showing the textural kiss that we love from oak treatment with little, if any, of the overt aromatic hit of the oak. After three years of being told that Stockinger would not export to the United States, we began to scheme. First, one of our winemaking friends in France or Italy would order the barrels and foudres and then we would arrange shipment to the New World. Thankfully, another good friend, one lesser known sommelier cum winemaker named Rajat Parr, somehow talked the Stockinger family into exporting a small number of barrels into the US of A. Needless to say, our barrel budget for the year got blown up and we could not be happier about it. The only new oak on this wine comes from barrels fabricated in Waidhofen, Austria (for John Irving fans one of the settings for Hotel New Hampshire) by the masters at Stockinger. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
2015 Sonoma Valley Sauvignon Blanc
The real name of this wine should be “that time Chuy Ordaz saved our tuchases.” As most people know, 2015 was a light harvest for many varieties and Sauvignon Blanc, at least at Judge Vineyard, was not spared the fruit razor of the Big Mama in the Sky. This meant we faced the rather troublesome reality of having to choose between releasing a Sauvignon Blanc at the expense of having none to blend with Semillon for Cuvee Karatas, or vice versa. Not happy with that reality, I started digging into the rolodex but came up with nada, bubkus, nothing. About to give up, I finally got ahold of a weary Chuy Ordaz. As a quick aside (and I wish these releases had footnotes sometimes), for those who don’t know Chuy, he one of those guys that by sheer dint of work ethic, graciousness and smarts has worked his way from being a field hand to the vineyard manager for Kenwood Winery under the Lee brothers to running his successful Palo Alto Vineyard Management. His watchful eyes oversee the farming at Montecillo, Vendemmia, Fredericks, Jack London Vineyard and many more. He is a badass. Chris and I met Chuy on a hot Sunday afternoon and he brought us to two lovely sites. Frye Road, which makes the generous core of this wine is planted on gravel and clay soils in the heart of Kenwood. Ubaldi, whose graceful product accounts for perfume and grace in this wine, is something special, about as good an SB site as I have ever seen. Where Lawndale Road takes a hard S before steeply gaining elevation into the nooks of Sonoma Mountain, Ubaldi stretches across a rare piece of Goldridge Loam soil that is strewn with rocks like a vinous baseboard at the southern perimeter of the Valley. Owner Bob Ubaldi has the turtle-leather hands, steady eyes and quiet smile befitting a man who has worked construction and fought fires for most of his life. Happily, Bob was willing to find some fruit for us and in two hours with Chuy we went from hosed to flush. Ubaldi ended up being some of the best Sauvignon Blanc we have ever brought into the winery, is the backbone for this wine, and will become a permanent addition to this wine.
2015 Sodini Zinfandel
Our first wine from this lovely vineyard since 2012—and boy has the vineyard changed. We were approached by Steve Sodini who was at his wit’s end after several difficult and money-losing harvests and was looking to find a solution for his 1905 planted vineyard. As is the case with too many old vineyards, there were lots of missing vines and soils had been depleted after years of production. In certain blocks almost 55% of the vines were missing, which meant the 16-acre vineyard was putting out less than 1 ton per acre. With Steve’s blessing we took over the farming and started pouring TLC into the vineyard. Compost was spread, hard-pan was spaded and cover crops were planted to start the process of soil rejuvenation. Missing vines have been replanted to a massale selection of cleaned up Zinfandel clones from Bedrock Vineyard and are starting to bear fruit. It has been a bit of a massive undertaking but the quality has steadily increased year after year and the vineyard is living up to the enormous potential of its Limerick Lane address. Starting in 2015 we were able to select some of the best barrels for a vineyard designate (the remainder is a core of the Old Vine blend). Sodini is almost a perfect hybrid between the weight and pepper of Dry Creek and the sexy blue fruit of Russian River Valley—indeed, the soil on the flat of the vineyard are classic RRV sandy clay loams, while the hillside is made of the red clay loam so common on the east bench of Dry Creek Valley. This is satisfying stuff that will age nicely but can also be enjoyed on the sooner side with a generous decant.
2015 Schmiedt Road Zinfandel
The excellent Kirschenmann Vineyard and our own Katushas Vineyard lie on either side of the tiny Schmiedt Road just north of the small town of Victor. Planted in 1915 on their own roots, the vineyards are located in a half-moon shaped bend of the Mokelumne River. The afternoon breezes and winds that travel up the river from the Delta wash across this oxbow, providing cool respite from the warm Lodi days. The result is a wine with surprising elegance and polish from a region better known for bruisers. This wine is more along the lines of the 2012 Kirschenmann rather than the more savory and raw-meat inflected 2013 and 2014 offerings. Supple and forward, this will provide some very nice early drinking pleasure but should age nicely for a few years beyond that.
2015 Papera Ranch Heritage Wine
Russian River Valley
Who sprinkled the pixie-dust on this vineyard?! Ever since we started working with this vineyard in 2011 (thank you Mr. Officer!), it is easily one of the most consistent and delicious wines we make each year. Our unique block at the vineyard is composed of a dozen varieties, though Zinfandel (around 50%) and Carignan (around 40%) dominate the blend. Somehow this blend works, despite a location normally considered pretty cold for Carignan, and the combination of pure and voluptuous Russian River Zinfandel combined with savory and crunchy Carignan makes for something utterly satisfying. In the warm and early 2015 this site seemed to even kick it up a notch!
2015 Pagani Ranch Heritage
There is a reason this ranch is well-known, as the wines are wonderful and distinct. Pagani Ranch always seems to be the largest-scale and darkest Heritage Wine we make. It could be the ashy soils, or the hot days and cold nights of Kenwood, or the high percentage of Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet and other teinturiers varieties, but the 2015 is no exception to the rule. Deep, opaque purple in color, the wine possesses many mysteries that time will reveal. Despite its weight, the wine is nicely balanced by fresh acidity. If you have this alongside the Monte Rosso (also on this release) you would be hard-pressed to guess that the vineyards are only a few miles from each other—as Monte Rosso is all about perfume and mountain fruit elegance and this is about density and power. The Taft to Monte’s Teddy.
2015 Old Vine Zinfandel
This is perhaps the most important wine we make—it is what Chris calls the “gateway drug” to Bedrock. Virtually all of the vineyards that go into this blend are also vineyard which means in some ways it is a bit of an old vine super cuvee—albeit a value-priced one. The fulcrum of the wine is based around three old vineyards we farm in Sonoma County: Bedrock (1888), Nervo (1896), and Sodini Ranch (1905), along with a healthy dollop from the gorgeous Esola Vineyard in Amador County. The wine also has tasty morsels from Pagani Ranch, Evangelho, Pato, Papera Ranch, Teldeschi, Dolinsek Ranch, Carlisle, York Creek, and others. With the average vine age over 80 years, this is some legit old vine goodness. The 2015 is 90% Zinfandel, with the remainder made up of Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Grenache, Carignan, Mataro, and various other mixed varieties found interplanted in these old vineyards. This is a delicious wine that will be great out of the gate with some decanting but, as many have noted on earlier incarnations, will also reward some cellar time.
2015 Ode to Lulu Rosé
Our eighth incarnation of Lulu. It started as pure Mataro/Mourvedre and over time has included more Grenache and Carignan over the years based on the best available fruit. In 2015 we are returning to Mataro as the core component of the blend, thanks to the return of Pagani Ranch fruit (which was terribly frosted in 2014) and the inclusion of the 100+ year old, own-rooted fruit at Live Oak Vineyard in Contra Costa County. At just over 60% of the blend the Mataro plays up some of the savory, feral fruit character of the wine, while the Gibson Ranch Grenache and Cemetery Carignan offer gorgeous aromatics of wild strawberry, gnawed watermelon rind, and perhaps even a trace of Mendocino’s number one cash crop. We are delighted with this wine.
2015 Ode to Lucien
In years where all the elements seem to be there, we make Ode to Lucien: our love letter to the wines of Bandol and to the patriarch of Domaine Tempier, Lucien Peyraud, who helped sculpt the appellation. The wine is composed of ancient Mourvedre (or Mataro as it has been known in California since the 1880s) and Grenache. The former comes from vines grown in the sands of Oakley—an area that creates a fine-grained, elegant version of the grape. The Grenache comes from the wild, enormous vines at Gibson Ranch in McDowell Valley—which, despite being light in color and enormously perfumed, is quite structured. The wine was blended early on and aged in a single, neutral, 600-gallon foudre. We hope Lucien would be proud.
2015 Oakville Farmhouse
Each time I set foot in this vineyard it brings me joy. Walking the gnarled, old, dry-farmed and head-trained Negrette, Mondeuse, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Carignane, Chenin Blanc and others, one gets a feel for how vineyards in Napa once were. Planted in the 1930s, this is the oldest vineyard left in Oakville. Surrounded by Futo and Promontory, and catty-corner to To-Kalon, the two-acre vineyard occupies some of the most lusted over soils in the wine world. It is a great honor to farm these vines and make the utterly unique wine that comes from them. Perfumed, taut and age-worthy, the 2015 will reward with some time in the cellar.
2015 North Coast Syrah
When we put together the North Coast Syrah blend, I am always channeling my favorite producers of St. Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage. I want a wine that is perfumed, spicy, peppery and delicious, something long on flavor and low on pretense. The lots that went into this wine saw between 0 and 100% whole-cluster inclusion, and some saw some co-fermented Viognier. Barrels of Hudson Ranch, Weill and Alder Springs that did not go into the vineyard designates, along with a few barrels from two other small vineyards in Sonoma, make up the final wine. Though we take great pride in the QPR of our Old Vine Zinfandel, this wine might be even better in that respect. Back up the truck, get your Syrah on!
2015 Nervo Heritage Wine
The 1896 plantings at Nervo Ranch are among the most extreme I have ever seen for an old vineyard. Planted on 30% slopes of decomposed shale, the mixed vines produce a wine that is aromatic, weighty, and elegant. It is the balance that this area of Geyserville is famous for—be it the wines from Ridge, Turley’s Vineyard 101 or Scherrer’s wonderful wines. The 2015 is no exception. This wine, a field blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Negrette, Carignan, Grenache, Trousseau Noir and many more, is dark and lovely stuff. Definitely give it some time- either in the cellar or the decanter as time and/or air will help it to unfold.
2015 Montecillo Cabernet Sauvignon
Moon Mountain District
OLD SCHOOL! From vines planted at 2000’ on the Sonoma side of Mt. Veeder in the 1960s, this is the type of Cabernet I love. This is dry-farmed, widely-spaced Cab grown on Cali sprawl— what can happen when you take away the silver spoon-feeder of irrigation and the corset of Stepford-wife vertical shoot positioning. This wine should last for a very long time. Unfortunately we only got about 25% of the fruit as we normally get due to rain and subsequent shatter at bloom, so there is not as much of this to go around as we would like.
2015 Monte Rosso Zinfandel
Moon Mountain District
What is there to say about Monte Rosso that has not already been said? Wines of recognition have come from the vineyard for over a century and the vineyard signature can be seen on any variety that is grown on the site. This is mountain Zinfandel at its finest, perfumed and elegant but carries the promise of a long-life due to the line of fine tannin that runs through its core. A perennial favorite and a wine that I know I will be enjoying long into my lifetime.
2015 Lorenzo's Heritage Wine
Dry Creek Valley
From the killer Teldeschi Ranch on the Dry Creek Bench, this is one of the strongest wines we have made from this vineyard. My father started working with Frank Teldeschi back in 1984, and to this day my father and I work off a handshake deal that has lasted for three decades. The ranch, which lies high on the eastern bench of the Dry Creek Valley, is dry-farmed and low-cropping. We are lucky enough to work with three blocks of fruit from the vineyard including the oldest “mother” block of Zinfandel on the ranch planted around 1900, a stellar block of Carignan planted on gravelly soils, and a unique block of very old Petite Sirah that also contains Cinsault, Peloursin, and even a bit of Vaccarese (one of the minor grapes of Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe). The finished wine is a blend of these three blocks. As always, this is a muscular wine, possessing beautiful fruit balanced by good brightness and beautiful structure. I see this as very similar to the 2008 version of this wine, which is drinking beautifully right now.
92 points, Wine Spectator
"Brooding and deeply structured, with distinctive black cherry, bitter chocolate and olive aromas that open to plump and potent blackberry, orange zest and licorice flavors. Zinfandel, Carignane, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet and Cinsault. Drink now through 2027."
2015 Limerick Lane Zinfandel
Russian River Valley
From vines planted in 1910 at Jake Bilbro’s perennial All-Star vineyard. The only problem with this wine is there is so little of it! Jake is nice enough to sell us a little block of dry-farmed fruit located towards the back of his estate’s 1910 block. Though predominately Zinfandel, there are small amounts of interplanted Carignan and Negrette. This vineyard is always one of the first we bring in from Sonoma County, in large part due to its very low cropping. I think what we all love so much about this wine, year in and year out, is how it combines laser-like acidity to balance the wealth of expressive fruit. This wine makes me so happy.
92 points, Wine Spectator
"A dynamic red, with briary wild berry and bouquet garni aromas and flavors of cherry, orange zest and bay leaf that show tension and focus. Drink now through 2027."
2015 Hudson Vineyard Syrah, T’n’S blocks
The two gorgeous blocks of T and S produced a classic Hudson Syrah in 2015. The loaded aromatics of the site—always seeming to feature an array of bacon, pepper, violets and charcuterie—combined with the voluptuous fruit of the 2015 vintage to create a gorgeous wine. Meticulously tended by Lee Hudson and Kelly MacLeod, the wine saw 50% whole-cluster inclusion at fermentation and was reared in 30% new French oak of various sizes. Always one of my favorite wines of the year. Drink 2019-2030
2015 Griffin's Lair Syrah
To say working with Griffin’s Lair since 2009 has been a privilege would be an understatement. Few younger vine vineyards have excited us every year like this wind-swept Petaluma Gap location. Our love and belief in the greatness of California Syrah is heavily owed over the last 8 years of making wine to this vineyard and tasting the great wines from others like Pax and Arnot Roberts. Coming from a co-fermentation of several clones of Syrah and a smidge of Viognier, grown in the ever-windy Petaluma Gap, this is one of the most consistently excellent wines we get to make every year. To double down on the already explosive aromatics of violets, pepper and bacon, we included 50% whole-cluster at the fermenter. The wine was then aged in a combination of large and small format barrels. This is a classic Griffin’s and should age beautifully. Decanting and hearty fare are always recommended here.
2015 Gibson Heritage Wine
From the oldest plantings in McDowell Valley (1880s), this is a unique field blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Peloursin, Trousseau Noir and Grenache that I have seen nowhere else in California. As the wild blend and higher elevation site would indicate, this wine refuses to obey to normative standards. There is an element of light meeting dark here—with the more ethereal perfumed varieties of Grenache and Trousseau meeting the imposing darkness of the Syrah family tree (Syrah and Peloursin crossed to create Petite Sirah). Feral, ferrous anise- and almost Amaro-tinged aromatics lead to a dark core of fruit. This wine changes immensely with a few hours of air, and I suspect it will also age gracefully for a very long time. My favorite wine we have made from this vineyard.
2015 Evangelho Heritage Wine
Contra Costa Vineyard
Our fifth iteration of this wine, and each time I think we get closer to capturing the true essence of this Grand Dame of a vineyard. Coming from own-rooted Zinfandel, Mataro, Carignan, Palomino, Alicante, and Mission planted in the 1890s on 40’ banks of granitic beach sand, this wine is a unique expression of a California field blend. Aromatically lifted by bright Zinfandel and crunchy Carignan but held in earthbound embrace by the terrestrial Mataro, this is a wine of opposition, a veritable Hegelian dialectic in vinous form. One time, when walking through this vineyard, my feet sinking in the sand, I had a David Lean inspired delusion of grandeur: it is 1917 and I am trudging across the Sinai peninsula with the only thing standing between me and the Gulf of Aqaba a Turkish-held garrison (otherwise known as a PG & E power plant) but where is my camel and why am I sampling grapes?
2015 Esola Zinfandel
Though the name is new, the vineyard is what made up the majority of our Sherman’s Gold bottling from 2014. We were not planning on having another vineyard designate wine—I swear. However, this wine was so d*mn good that I would have been incredibly bummed to see it all go into our Old Vine bottling. By far the most explosively perfumed Zinfandel vineyard I have ever worked with (the wine smelled liked grapefruit and angostura the first few days of fermentation!), this is also one of the most complete wines from 2015. Its glory should not be too surprising though, as this was the vineyard that was used by Dave Bennion and Paul Draper at Ridge for their “Shenendoah” bottling in the 70s and 80s. The grapes from the vineyard were split into two lots–one was pressed at dryness, while the other saw 30 days of extended maceration on skins to help round out the classic Amador tannins (a technique we usually reserve for Cabernet). The final wine is 68% extended maceration and 32% what was pressed at dryness, with the majority of the wine aged in 600 gallon foudre. I love this wine, but definitely give it a nice decant if opening on the sooner side.
2015 Drummond's Petite Sirah
Our first Petite Sirah! Having been raised on great, long-lived wines like 1970s Freemark Abbey and Ridge York Creek Petite Sirah, the grape has always been near and dear to my heart. And though I always wanted to make one, the right vineyards never really surfaced to make my dream a reality. However, in 2015 we had the opportunity to work with two of the greatest Petite Sirah vineyards in the state and it seemed silly not to swing for the fences and make on of those “wines for the ages.” The wine is centered around the old vine Petite Sirah at Eaglepoint Ranch in Mendocino which for years was the source for Sean Thackrey’s epic Sirius bottlings. Somehow the site combines power with great perfume and stays away from the sometimes monolithic character than can dominate certain examples of the grape. To tame some of the wildness of the Eaglepoint lots we blended in some wine from the aristocratic site of Palisades Vineyard north of Calistoga—a vineyard that seems to make refined Pets with fine, almost Claret-like (in the old school sense of the word) tannins. We are exceedingly happy with the wine and confident that like Edelweiss, it will bloom and grow forever (well, forever is relative).
2015 Dolinsek Ranch Heritage Wine
Russian River Valley
In most years, Dolinsek Ranch Heritage Wine is one of the most immediately gratifying wines we make. In 2015 this is especially true. A gushing spring of rotund Russian River Valley blue fruits and spice, this is a wine that can, and perhaps should, be drunk young. Yes, you just heard me say that about a Bedrock wine. Sourced from Jim and Kathleen Dolinsek’s 1910 plantings, this scant yielding field blend of Zinfandel, Alicante Bouschet, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Palomino, Black Muscat, and Burger is one of the last old vineyards on the east side of the Laguna del Santa Rosa. Jump on in, the water’s great!
92 points, Wine Spectator
"Luxurious but dynamic in structure, with jammy blueberry and stony mineral aromas and deeply layered boysenberry, licorice and dark Asian spice flavors. Zinfandel and other red varieties. Drink now through 2025."
2015 Cuvee Karatas White Wine
After a few-year hiatus (the last we produced was the 2012), Cuvee Karatas is back! One of my favorite wines we make, when we have the material to make it, the Karatas is based around the oldest Semillon plantings left in the country. Planted in the 1880s at the stunning Monte Rosso Vineyard, the Semillon is one-of-a-kind stuff. Whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented in a combination of new Stockinger barrels and older barrique in a range of sizes, the Semillon is weighty and expressive. Sauvignon Blanc from Judge Vineyard in Bennett Valley and Uboldi Vineyard in Kenwood were blended in to make a classic “Bordeaux Blanc” style wine. This is delicious now but should age gracefully for quite a while. We find that with time more of the Semillon oiliness and tobacco character comes out, while in its youth the raciness of the Sauvignon Blanc is more defining of the aromatic and fruit profile. This is easily my favorite version of this wine since the original 2008 (which is aging beautifully!).
2015 Compagni Portis
One of our most distinct wines year-in and year-out comes from this 1954 planted vineyard. Composed of aromatic Germanic varieties such as Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Trousseau Gris and Roter Veltliner, this wine is defined by spice, lychee and general exoticness. Vinified in neutral and stainless steel barrels, the wine was fermented using native yeasts but was not allowed to go through malolactic in order to retain the acidity necessary to balance the natural weight of the wine. This is the only old vineyard in California that I know of like this.
2015 Carlisle Zinfandel
Russian River Valley
What a couple, what a vineyard, what a wine! Mike and Kendall Officer are two of my favorite people in the world and it is pleasure to work with a small amount of fruit from their revered Russian River Valley vineyard. Tonally blue and luxuriously fruited this is balanced perfectly by lovely cool-climate brightness. The vineyard, though nearly 90% Zinfandel, is also home to a remarkable number of other varieties—at last count there were over 40 non-Zin varieties planted on the ranch. It is a bit hard to speculate what this might add, what we do know is that this is addictively drinkable! This will age nicely but can certainly be enjoyed on the earlier side for its gorgeous fruit and personality.
94 points, Wine Spectator
"Floral blackberry and pepper aromas open to plush and gutsy blueberry and cherry flavors, accented by bitter chocolate, dried sage and smoky licorice hints. Drink now through 2027."
2015 Bedrock Vineyard Heritage Wine
Diane Kenworthy, who has overseen farming at Bedrock Vineyard for the last ten years, has a sage mantra that the best vineyards teach you how to farm them over time. I think the same can be said of making wines from a great vineyard. Over time you see the gentle nuances of ripening and subtle variations in a vineyard. You gain a better understanding of maximizing the potential of a vineyard in a given year rather than attempting to force it into a particular style. Bedrock Vineyard is always going to have orange-scented perfume and rooted tannins, but outside of that I have been amazed by the variations of vintage. The 2015 is a svelte lumberjack but a true lumberjack—not the soft-handed, urbane, hipster type, nor the Monty Python cross-dresser (though if that is what it wants to be when it grows up, that is just fine with me!). A wine that is well-built, a little gruff at first, but full of nuance, soft eyes, and a well-hewn heart. Composed of the 27 different varieties found in the old vines at Bedrock Vineyard, the wine is dominated by the classic California field blend of Zinfandel, Carignane, Mataro, Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Alicante Bouschet. However, it also has Cabernet, Merlot, Castets, Trousseau Noir, Grenache, Bequignol, Mondeuse, Semillon, Tempranillo, Muscadelle, and more. From the heart of Sonoma Valley, this is the wine closest to our hearts.
2015 Alder Springs Vineyard Syrah
From the extreme north of Mendocino County our Alder Springs Syrah comes from the beautiful Emerald Pool and Spirit Rock blocks of Stu Bewley’s magnificent vineyard. The 2015 is a relatively civilized wine by Alder Springs standards – pretty pepper and violet and a trill of Viognier stand out on the expressive nose. Sweet fruit, dry aged steak and pepper dominate the palate. This is quite a bit more forward than typical for the vineyard and will actually reward earlier drinking with a good decant. $42
2015 Abrente Albariño
The 2014 version of this wine is on the richer side of the spectrum by our Abrente Albarino standards. The alcohol is essentially the same as previous releases but there is a greater fruit richness of fruit to be found here. In most years I think of the Abrente as the perfect oyster and light seafood wine while this one will extend to richer seafood concoctions (roast monkfish with black truffles anyone? (the dangers of writing with an appetite)), chicken dishes and any vegetarian fare. The grapes were sourced from two vineyards in the Carneros—one planted on clay, the other on limestone—and was fermented in stainless steel. This one will be great for summer nights on the porch.
2014 Wirz Vineyard Riesling
This is a special vineyard. First off, it is from the Cienega Valley. Yeah, I didn’t know where it was when I first heard about it either. The appellation is south of Gilroy on the eastern side of the Gabilan Range, think Calera (in fact Calera’s first wine, a Zinfandel, came from this vineyard back in the early 1980s). The vines are own-rooted and planted in 1963, which makes it the second oldest Riesling planting after Stony Hill in California; actually, it is tied for second-oldest as our friend Rory Williams’ plot in Napa was also planted in 1963 (check out his Calder wines!). The Riesling also has a little Sylvaner interplanted in it, which the owner Pat Wirz calls by the name indigenous to California “Franken Riesling.” The wine was fermented with native yeast in a neutral oak upright tank and aged for 6 months on lees prior to bottling. Dry, stony, floral and perfumed this is a fun and delicious expression of Riesling. More Heiligenstein than Graacher Himmelriech, more Riquevillean than Sharzhofian. No I didn’t just make those words up.
2014 Weill-a-Way Vineyard Syrah
Though 2013 was our last year making the Weill "Exposition" wines, we still made a single wine in 2014 using the same methods. Using a large percentage of co-fermented Viognier and a moderate fraction of whole-cluster, we vinified the wine using native yeasts. It then spent three years in 100% new oak barrels of various sizes without racking. Though only an individual wine, this was created in the same mold as the Weill wines of 2011-2013. Thus, it is an outlier stylistically for us, albeit one that many enjoy, particularly the fans of the Exposition Trios. Drink 2020-2030
2014 Weill Mixed Blacks
In 2014 we took over the farming at Weill Vineyard which allowed us to dig a bit more deeply into the viticulture of the site. Tightly spaced on a steep site in Southern Sonoma Valley we did a multiple thinning passes to ensure that fruit ripened more uniformly and also restricted water use a bit more. The result is a wine that possesses the dark color and richness typical of this recreated field blend but also feels a bit more complete than the 2013 and 2012 iterations. This will be delicious with a good decant earlier in its life.
2014 Sherman's Gold Zinfandel
I am not sure I can relate how much I love this wine. From Esola Vineyard, the vines are located at 1600’, grown on granite in the heart of Shenendoah Valley in Amador County. That said, it is higher acid, nervy, downright aromatic (like someone put Frappato or Mammolo or something into it), and best with food. I have no doubt this will be controversial as this is quite opposite to what I think most people believe Zinfandel to be. Like Nebbiolo’s prettiest daughter having an illicit love child with the son of the Zinfandel. Delicious.
2014 Papera Ranch Heritage Wine
Russian River Valley
One of my absolute favorite wines from 2014, Papera Ranch Heritage combines the richness of Russian River Valley with the electric brightness and spice brought by the Carignan and other interplanted varieties. As planted, the vineyard is just about evenly split between Zinfandel and Carignan along with 10% or so of Valdigue, Petite Sirah, Syrah, and others. However, in order to pick everything together the Carignan is thinned to one-cluster per shoot to bring it into the ripening window with the Zinfandel which means the resulting wine is probably only about 30% Carignan or so. This is one of the most consistent vineyards we work with and always ranks towards the top in terms of my personal preference. (Not that we have favorites! ?)
2014 Pagani Ranch Heritage Wine
Pagani is Pagani, deservedly considered one of the greatest old vine vineyards in California. That said, 2010 it got singed by the screaming heat of late August. 2011 was good but a challenging year in the cool site, and the 2012 is a dark beast of wine but perhaps lacking some of the gracefulness we desire in our efforts. However, the 2013 was one of the best wines of one of the best vintages we have had and the 2014, though early, is easily one of the best wines in our cellar from the vintage. In both the ’13 and ’14, the wines are incredibly dense, but there is a lightness in the perfume and weight. Pagani will never be Fred Astaire (that might be Evangelho), but in its best incarnations has a fair amount of Gene Kelly.
2014 Old Vine Zinfandel
We like to think of this as the gateway drug to Bedrock. Beyond this, it is perhaps the most important wine we make. It is widely available, and as such, acts a bit like the winery’s business card—we want it to carry the density, fruit, freshness, and spice that we look for in our single-vineyard wines. It is also an invaluable tool for our work in vineyards and in the winery. Several vineyards we work with are “reclamation” projects of sorts— beautiful old vineyards throughout California that have been disrespected by poor farming and cultural practices. We are now showing them the TLC they deserve, and as they climb the qualitative ladder towards potential vineyard designation, we have a great home in the Old Vine Zinfandel. This year’s cuvee features the first intensely perfumed fruit from Esola Vineyard in Amador County, the vineyard the Ridge “Shenendoah” bottlings were based around for many years. In addition, it is made up of Nervo Ranch in Geyserville, Sodini Ranch on Limerick Lane, Casa Santinamaria Vineyard in Sonoma Valley, Bedrock Vineyards, and a barrel here and there from other favorites (Papera, Teldeschi, Pagani Ranch, etc.). As much as I love the 2012 and 2013, I prefer this slightly more perfumed iteration of the wine. With a healthy decant this should provide good drinking pleasure in the near term, but I am pretty convinced that like the 2011, 2012, and 2013 before it that it will age gracefully for over a decade. It’s a lot of Zinfandel (and mixed black) goodness!
2014 Ode to Lulu Rosé
Like the last few years, this rosé comes from vines planted prior to 1940 (or perhaps we should say prior to FDR’s third term). Picked specifically for rosé, at lower potential alcohol and whole-cluster pressed, this pale and perfumed rosé belies its lighter color and has plenty of density. It bears a strong resemblance to the 2010 and 2011, both of which are still showing nicely now. The backbone of the wine is the ancient Mourvedre—with all of its coniferous perfume and spice—with dashes of Cemetary Vineyard Carignane for salty crunch and Evangelho for red-fruited crackle.
2014 Oakville Farmhouse Heritage Wine
It is hard not to slobber all over myself when I talk about this vineyard and the resulting wine. The little two acre patch of vines, planted in the 1930s, sits at the foot of Futo and Harlan and catty-corner to To Kalon. It is a patchwork quilt of different varieties—Negrette, Mondeuse, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Carignan, Ruby Cabernet, Malvasia Bianca, Chenin Blanc, Colombard, and more. And despite this assortment, it just reeks of old school Oakville wine—fresh currant, underbrush, pencil lead, camphor and more. This one is going to need some time to unwind but should reward aging.
2014 North Coast Syrah
What do you get when you combine barrels of Hudson, Griffin’s Lair and Weill Vineyard? This wine. It certainly is not our highest margin wine but it is one of our most delicious. Roughly 96% Syrah and 4% Viognier this is a gamey, peppery, violet-incensed thing of Syrah beauty. All exotic and sh*t. Like previous incarnations of this wine, this will age as well or better as any Syrah from California at its price but will also satisfy those of you who are itching to crack something with the Bedrock vine on the label with a good decanting.
2014 Nervo Ranch Heritage Wine
Nervo Ranch is located just south of the town of Geyserville on incredibly steep slopes of decomposed shale (technically Josephine Loam). The oldest vines on the ranch, which comprise this bottling, were planted in 1896. The vineyard is a true field blend with two blocks dominated by Zinfandel and another dominated by Negrette, which was once known as Pinot St. George in California. The wine also includes a bevy of other varieties such as Abouriou, Alicante Bouschet, Carignan, Cinsault, Petite Sirah, Valdigue, Trousseau Noir, Trousseau Gris, Cardinal, Burger, Colombard, and Sauvignon Blanc. This is dark, peppery, brooding stuff—perhaps the most “claret” like of our Heritage bottlings and deserves good decanting if opening on the earlier side. What I mean by “Claret” is that texturally it reminds me more of young Bordeaux. That said, it becomes a bit confusing because in California most wines traditionally bottled as "Claret" in the latter-part of the 19th and first half of 20th century did indicate a more elegant style wine. Based on what I have read, "Burgundy" usually meant a darker and more powerful wine. To make matters even more confusing, Nervo Winery bottled a "Burgundy" and the vineyard contains many varieties typically used in "Burgundy" plantings (for instance Negrette was originally known as Pinot St. George in California). So, I guess I am saying that the wine reminds me structurally of more modern Bordeaux but in reality is likely very true to its intended use as "California Burgundy." Hope that makes some sense!
2014 Monte Rosso Zinfandel
Moon Mountain District
Our fifth year of making wine from this staggeringly beautiful vineyard (though the 15th for my father and me combined). Our gorgeous block 32, planted on a steep westward-facing slope, is remarkably pure for a vineyard of this age—probably only 2-3% Alicante Bouschet and Grand Noir is mixed into the Zinfandel. That said, this vineyard produces a Zin that seems to age like one of our Heritage wines, rife with the darkening complexities of field-blended mixed-blacks. This will need 3-4 years to come around (it seems Monte always does) but is a beauty. Get your Dickies on, this is mountain Zin.
2014 Lorenzo's Heritage Wine
Dry Creek Valley
The last of the 2014 vintage heritage wines, the Lorenzo’s as always promises to be one of the longest lived wines of the vintage. From gorgeous, dry land vines planted on the eastern bench of Dry Creek Valley, this wine is a blend of Zinfandel, Carignan and Petite Sirah, along with small amounts of Alicante Bouschet, Cinsault, Peloursin, and Valdigue. This is a dark and powerful wine, full of Dry Creek black cherry, iron filings, violets, and tea. This is a perennial favorite from one of the foundational vineyards for Bedrock, Teldeschi Ranch and its inimitable guardian John Teldeschi.
2014 Limerick Lane Zinfandel
Russian River Valley
Our small block, planted in 1910, at this incredible site produced a wine in 2014 with great elegance, breed and line. Almost always one of the most fragrant Zinfandel sites we work with, this wine possesses aromatics akin to some of the best wines of Abbatucci in Corsica (an esoteric reference but if you know the wines you know what I am talking about). Red fruits, myrh and California garrigue dominate on the distinctive nose. This wine really shines with a few hours in the decanter. One of my favorites of the year, this will appeal to those who prefer finesse over massiveness.
2014 Kirschenmann Zinfandel
From this venerable vineyard, planted in 1915 on its own roots in a cool oxbow of the Mokelumne River, the 2014 Kirschenmann is perhaps the most structured example we have made. Currently it smells like dusty red fruit and beef blood and the bottle I opened this weekend needed a solid 24 hours to start coming around to its pre-bottling form. When it does, there is a lovely amplification of fruit and spice and a bit of sandy-loam soil. This is not your typical Lodi Zinfandel, but then again, Kirschenmann never is.
2014 Judge Sauvignon Blanc
I think this is my favorite Sauvignon Blanc we have made since the original 2009 version from Kick Ranch. The vineyard is so rocky that Joe and Gail Judge were forced to remove 1000 tons of stone before creating adequate soil for vines. This greatly devigorates the overly enterprising Sauvignon Blanc vines and results in fragrant wines of solidly wrought temper. The wine was fermented entirely in the cigare barrels made famous by Didier Dagueneau, coopered to our specifications (aka, tight grain and very light toast) for us by our friends at Tonnellerie Atelier. Exotic and ambrosial this wine captures what I love best about good Sauvignon Blanc—great aromatic complexity paired with nice texturing.
2014 Hudson Vineyard Syrah
Mmmmm, pepper and bacon fat deliciousness from Lee Hudson’s Carneros jewel. One of our most consistent vineyards and wines, our Hudson fruit comes predominately from the oldest block of Syrah on the ranch that was planted in 1993. In 2014 we included 50% whole-cluster to amp up the already rather explosive aromatics. Always one of my favorite wines that we make. This is what Mr. Parker had to say about it:
You would think that Morgan Twain-Peterson would be content with his whites and Heritage wines, but this young professional has an extraordinary touch with Syrah, and it’s there that perhaps some of his greatest winemaking done today is centered. The 2014 Syrah Hudson T ‘n’ S comes from the famous vineyard in Carneros. It was John Kongsgaard who first put me on to some of the great Syrah that Lee Hudson had planted. Fifty percent whole clusters were used in this wine, which was aged in a combination of smaller barriques and larger puncheons. This is Côte Rôtie on steroids, with notes of bacon fat, black olive tapenade, violets, marmalade, lychee and loads of black raspberry and black cherry fruit. It is a heady, fleshy, super-complex wine that is so good now, I can’t believe it is actually going to improve much more. Drink it over the next 5-7 years. 96 Points
2014 Griffin's Lair Syrah
As much as we love working with old vines around the state, there is something utterly magical about Griffin’s Lair Syrah. Starting with its evocative name, one that conjures images of ghouls and goblins, of sweet smoke-scented rooms of alchemy and potions, of swords rising from lakes and profs called Snape, the vineyard seems to capture the many dark mysteries of Syrah. The 2014 is a winery favorite and a classic expression of this wind-ripped site in the Petaluma Gap. Fermented with 50% whole cluster and some Viognier, the wine lies on the border of elegance and enormous density—full of violet pastille, tousled Corsican Myrh, white pepper, copa, and Benton’s southern smoked ham. Like the Great Smoky Mountains during wildflower season. Gotta get me some more Benton’s…
2014 Evangelho Heritage Wine
Contra Costa County
Many of you have heard us wax rhapsodic about Evangelho Vineyard and its ancient vines, own-rooted in beach sand on the banks of the Delta. Having made this vineyard for four years now (and starting to pick the 2015 yesterday), I am amazed by the unflappable consistency of the vineyard. Though it might shade darker or lighter in any given vintage, whenever we taste through the wines blind in the cellar, Evangelho screams out. For me it is the contrast between the bright acid and low pH of well-farmed CoCo fruit along with the fine tannin profile from the sand that separates it from most of our other vineyards that are derived from coarser, more volcanic soil. I love this 2014, a field-blend of Zinfandel, Carignane, Mataro, Palomino, Alicante Bouschet, and Mission. As always, decant well if drinking in the near term!
2014 Dolinsek Ranch Heritage Wine
Russian River Valley
This old vine vineyard, planted in 1910, is one of the only left on the Goldridge loams west of the Laguna del Santa Rosa in Russian River Valley. Planted on north-facing slopes, the vineyard is a patchwork of varieties—Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Alicante Bouschet, Palomino and a trace of Muscat among others. The 2014, like its predecessors, is quintessential RRV—lots of blue fruit, spice, exotic perfume and a certain richness to the mouthfeel despite the brightness. Though this will certainly age nicely, it could be enjoyed on the earlier side with a good decant.
2014 Compagni Portis Heritage Wine
Dry-farmed, this field-blend of Gewürztraminer, Trousseau Gris, Roter Veltliner, Riesling, Chardonnay, and others was planted in 1954. Organically farmed in cahoots with Phil Coturri, it is one of the most interesting old white vineyards I have ever seen. The 2014 is my favorite bottling of this wine since the 2011, with the naturally rich and explosively exotic Gewürztraminer being balanced by the higher acid and later ripening Trousseau Gris, Riesling, and others. In making the wine, 50% of the fruit is destemmed and skin soaked for 4-5 hours to pull more perfume from the grapes, while the other half is whole-cluster pressed to ensure more delicate texture.
2014 Carlisle Zinfandel
Russian River Valley
One of the great joys of our existence is getting to share fruit with mentors and friends such as Mike and Kendall Officer (Carlisle), Tegan and Olivia Passalacqua (Kirschenmann), and Jake and Scot Bilbro (Limerick Lane and Gibson Ranch). The camaraderie and friendly competition makes all of our wines and farming practices better. 2014 is the second year we have had the opportunity to buy some fruit from Mike and Kendall’s amazing vineyard in the Piner/Olivet area of the Russian River Valley. The wine has what I like most in wines from this part of the world: opulent fruit and a beam of clarifying acid that lifts the wine.
2014 Bedrock Vineyard Heritage Wine
The grand poo-bah. With the new discoveries of Mondeuse and Bequignol Blanc (!) this year, there are 25 different varieties represented in this wine. The only major contrast this year, compared to previous iterations of this wine, is that it contains a slightly higher percentage of Mataro/Mourvedre. As with the Carignan, we have two old blocks dominated by Mataro that we pick a little later than the rest of the vineyard and blend back into the wine as we see fit. In years past we have used some of this for rosé, but it tasted so great in 2014 that we let it hang a bit longer for red. We are enormously pleased with the results, the Mourvedre adding just a trace more earthen depth to the usual orange-tinged and spicy perfume so typical of the site.
2014 Alta Vista Gewurztraminer
Our first bit of crop after several years of rehabbing this amazing vineyard which we found abandoned in 2012. Originally planted in the 1940s, this vineyard is dry-farmed at just over 1000’ in the Moon Mountain District AVA overlooking Sonoma Valley. Unfortunately we only got to make about 60 cases of this perfume dragon, so it is wish-list only for everyone.
2014 Abrente Godello
Why do we love Godello? We love it because this variety, from the Valdeorras of Spain (just north of Portugal) has the richness of Chardonnay combined with the raciness of Albarino—a certain grapefruit and tarragon-laced perfume with viscosity. This was fermented using native yeast stainless steel tank and then barreled down to neutral oak barrels. I opened this with a feast of clams and mussels simmered in coconut milk, ginger, lemongrass, garlic and mirin this weekend and it was perfect.
2014 Abrente Albariño
Michael Havens and I both think this is one of the strongest Albarinos to date. In a reverse from the last couple of years the fruit from Stewart Ranch, planted on clay, was the stronger of the two lots—showing beautifully precise aromatics hinting at the tropical, nice density and crackling acidity. The Watson Ranch lot contributes nice structure and a distinct steely citrus character. This will be a major part of my own summer wine consumption!
2013 Weill a Way Mixed Blacks
Weill a Way is always an outlier for us, as it comes from a young, “modern” vineyard with tight spacing and devigorating rootstock. The upside is that we can take the vines back to one cluster per shoot to ensure ripening in a site that would normally be considered too cool to ripen Zinfandel and the assorted Grenache, Tempranillo, Mataro, Alicante Bouschet, Petite Sirah, and others that make up the wine. The result is a wine that is pretty darn rich, full of black fruits and spice. This is one of the more straightforward wines in the release, but it will offer a lot of near-term enjoyment for those looking for a nice mouthful of layered dark fruit.
2013 Weill Vineyard Syrah: Exposition 3
Exposition Three saw scant whole-cluster inclusion, 16% Viognier, and is the most rounded and headily scented of the wines.
2013 Weill Vineyard Syrah: Exposition 2
Exposition Two comes from clone 877 and was 50% destemmed and cofermented with 8% Viognier.
2013 Weill Vineyard Syrah: Exposition 1
Our third and final year of this experiment, as Syrah decline is unfortunately starting to ravage this wonderful vineyard. All sourced from the various aspects, clones, and blocks of Weill a Way Vineyard located at the mouth of Sonoma Valley, these wines are a love-letter to the LaLa wines (La Landonne, La Turque and La Mouline) of Guigal in Cote Rotie. Exposition One comes from clone 470 on a steep west facing hill, saw 100% whole-cluster, and is free of the perfumed shadings of Viognier. Only 125 cases were made of each of these wines, and if last year was any indication, these will certainly be among the highest-demand wines we have released.
2013 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc
First, it should be noted that despite not being a “vineyard designated” wine, the Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc is stronger than it has ever been. The reason for this was the addition of Judge Family Vineyard to the wine—a site so rocky that Joe Judge removed 200 tons of rock merely to make the site plantable for grapes. Like Kick Ranch, which is 22% of the blend, the rocky site limits the vigor of the naturally robust Sauvignon Blanc grape and makes for more concentrated fruit. Roughly 15% of the wine was done in the celebrated “cigare” barrels created by Dider Dageneau and coopered by Tonnellerie Ateleir from tight-grain and lightly toasted oak. The remainder of the wine split its fermentation between neutral oak barrels and stainless steel. The resulting wine is the type of Sauvignon Blanc I like to drink, interestingly textured, layered, racy and exotically perfumed.
2013 Papera Heritage Wine
Russian River Valley
This venerable vineyard planted in 1934 produced a beautiful wine in 2013. The field blend, based around Zinfandel and Carignane and planted in the very cool Piner-Olivet area of the Russian River Valley, is always one of our favorites for its deep color, smoked blue fruit with a trace of stone fruit and cherry skin. It has considerable girth in 2013 but is held proudly erect by penetrating acidity. Trying this alongside the 2013 Limerick Lane and the 2013 Dolinsek (from the Fall 2014 release) one can really see three unique expressions from the sprawling Russian River Valley AVA.
2013 Pagani Ranch Heritage Wine
This venerable and famed vineyard, planted in the 1880s, produced perhaps the finest wine we have made yet from the site. As is typical with the vineyard, its ash-rich grey soils and its rostrum of particularly dark mixed blacks varieties the wine is on the burly side of elegance. More Waylon Jennings than Willie Nelson, more Wagner than Mozart. This wine separates itself from the '10, '11, or '12, as in 2013 the stentorian tone found the higher angels of perfume and the flavors run the gamut from an earthen core to celestial heights.
2013 Old Vine Zinfandel
The 2013 Old Vine Zinfandel comes from vines averaging over 80 years of age. Like its predecessor, the lovely 2012, it benefited enormously from the second year in a row of exceptional quality with higher than average yields. Though its core still revolves around the Sonoma Valley appellation (Bedrock Vineyard, Monte Rosso, and Casa Santinamaria Vineyard), we have become geographically more adventurous due to the addition of a few pretty amazing vineyards. The first of these is Nervo Ranch in Alexander Valley with its steep, decomposed shale soils. The second is Sodini Ranch on Limerick Lane in the Russian River Valley that Bedrock Wine Co. happily farms. The last is the amazing Stampede Vineyard in the Clements Hills AVA of Lodi: own-rooted on granitic sands and planted in 1919, it is a star in the making under the new ownership of the Perlegos family. There are also bits of Papera Ranch, Pagani Ranch, and Lorenzo’s in the blend. Though it is legally a Zinfandel, and labeled as such, it is also a Bedrock wine so you can be sure it has its full quotient of the wacky, weird and wonderful in it as well—nearly 23% Carignane, Mourvedre, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Abouriou, Aubun, and assorted mixed white varieties. We are thrilled with this wine–I think it is every bit as good as the 2012 though perhaps reflective of the age-worthy 2013 vintage.
2013 Ode to Lulu Rosé
"Clearly one of the greatest rosés I have tasted over the last few years, Bedrock’s 2013 Ode to Lulu ranks alongside some of the fabulous dry rosés made by Domaine de la Mordoree in Châteauneuf du Pâpe. With this offering, Bedrock’s owner/winemaker Morgan Twain-Peterson has paid homage to Lulu Peyraud of Domaine Tempier, an estate that fashions great Bandol roses. This blend of 50% old vine Mourvedre, 30% old vine Carignan and 20% Grenache from vines planted between 1888 and 1922 is a killer rose. Whole cluster pressed and aged in stainless steel with no malolactic, 600 cases of this full-bodied, strikingly Provencal-styled rose were produced. It possesses a light pink color, crisp acids, medium to full-bodied flavors, and tremendous intensity as well as character. Superb winemaking, great vineyard sources and old Mediterranean grape varieties planted in California are the keys to producing this sensational rosé. Don’t miss it! It should drink well for several years." –Robert Parker
2013 Ode to Lucien
Well, is this wine really a surprise? It actually was to us. I had long been thinking about making a Bandol-rouge style wine but never felt like I had found the right vineyards. I did know that one component fell into place when we found Evangelho Vineyard in Contra Costa County back in 2011. The second element came with Gibson Ranch and its incredibly old Grenache and mixed Syrah (the 2013 of which will be released in the Spring). While futzing around with blending this Spring I, rather jokingly, put together a blend that resembled Tempier’s La Miguoa (Mourvedre with a nice dollop of Grenache and Cinsault) but replacing the Cinsault with the old mixed Syrah plantings. I brought a glass over to Chris who was mumbling sweet nothings to his computer (typical) to get his thoughts. We are releasing the wine so you can imagine what he said (there may have been chest bumping and awkward pats on the ass involved). The wine comes completely from dry-farmed vines planted prior to 1900. It was aged completely in neutral oak prior to being transferred to a small older foudre.
2013 Oakville Farmhouse Heritage Wine
Planted 1930s, we think. This is a special one. Mark and Mollie Gamble’s vineyard is the oldest vineyard left in Oakville and one of the last remaining museum pieces from a nearly extinct time in Napa Valley’s history. Lying at the foot of Harlan and catty-corner from the southern edge of To Kalon Vineyard, this 2.5 acre piece occupies some expensive real estate. A fascinating field blend of Negrette, Zinfandel, Mondeuse, Petite Sirah, Carignane, Ruby Cabernet, and more this vineyard actually has the last known vines of old Mondeuse in Napa Valley. This is surprising as the original owner of To Kalon Vineyard, H.W. Crabb was so enamored with the variety upon planting it in the 1880’s that he called it Crabb’s Black Burgundy. The vine is incredibly unique, with aromatics of violets and anise and dark fruit supported by a deep spine of acid and tannin. This should age beautifully and could use extended decanting if opened young.
2013 North Coast Syrah
As in 2012 the 2013 North Coast Syrah benefited from the benevolent 2013 harvest and I think it easily rivals last year's iteration in terms of complexity. A blend of Hudson, Weill, and Kick Rach, the wine saw roughly 60% whole-cluster along with a nice 4% dollop of cofermented Viogner. Raised in a combination of larger format and traditional barrel sizes the wine ultimately saw 17% new French oak along with a 14 month elevage with no racking until bottling. A Syrah lover's Syrah, filled with pepper, smoke and violets this should make for delicious drinking over the next 5-10 years.
2013 Nervo Heritage Wine
Original Release Notes, Winter 2014: This is a wine of bittersweet memories and grand personalities, of characters that have helped define my existence but whose contact has been fleeting and ineffable. My grandfather, who passed while my father was a young man, started buying the wines from Nervo Winery in the 1960s. In July of 2013, David Gates from Ridge Vineyards let my father know that the winery taking the fruit from Nervo (Ridge took it for a long time in the '90s) had backed out of the contract with harvest fast approaching. A few short days later I was driving north to Geyserville to meet one Joe Mengali. It took only a few short moments of walking the vineyard with Joe to both see the remarkable potential of the vineyard as well as the good-humored and roughhewn love with which Joe farmed it. The vineyard’s oldest vines were planted in 1896 and cling to steep slopes of decomposed shale and are a classic mix of Zinfandel, Negrette (Pinot St. George to the old-timers), Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Grand Noir, Grenache, Carignane, Trousseau Noir, Cardinal, Burger, Semillon, and even a little delicious Sauv. Blanc. It was a no-brainer for Bedrock, and the 2013 is one of our very favorite wines of the vintage—dense, peppery with a cool old-school claret character. Unfortunately, Joe Mengali, with his soft eyes, worn hands and huge laugh left us a few weeks ago after a long battle with cancer. The affliction, which the VA attributes to exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam, took him at the age of 67. Both Chris and I cherish the couple of years we got with Joe and look forward to a continued close relationship with Joe’s family.
2013 Montecillo Cabernet Sauvignon
Moon Mountain District
50-year-old Cabernet, planted at 2200’ in Nuns Canyon, dry-farmed— are you f’ing kidding me?! If you had told me a few years ago that a vineyard like this still existed, I would have said you were crazy. The vineyard, which was the backbone of the Kenwood Artist Series wines for a long time, lies a mere 848 yards from the Napa County border. I don’t say this to boast of its provenance but more to highlight one of the vexations of the current California industry. If a vineyard of this quality was planted 900 yards away, the owner would likely be getting paid upwards of $10k a ton, rather than getting less than 25% of that (prior to Turley, Arnot Roberts, and us becoming clients) because it is in the Sonoma Valley appellation. Most importantly, I feel like we found the grail when it comes to old-school, mountain Cabernet. This wine is elegant, intense, tannic, and will be long-lived. I never really thought Bedrock would have the chance to make a wine that would even be able to come to the same dance with the wines from Mayacamas, Kenwood, Togni, Corison, and Laurel Glen that defined my expectations for old-school, age-worthy wines of class, but this vineyard has us doing the shim-sham and scuba diver in the halls.
2013 Monte Rosso Zinfandel
Moon Mountain District
This vineyard really does not need much of an introduction. For those of you who might wonder why we are so perpetually excited about it the vineyard though, this is why: Imagine a dude named Emmanuel Goldstein, slogging up a long dirt singletrack in the mid 1880’s, clambering up switchbacks and seemingly impossible elevation gain and arriving at an elevated bench overlooking the wooded and relatively undeveloped Sonoma Valley. Looking around at the fertile wilderness of Madrone, Manzanita, laurel bay, poison oak and sage brush he says “alright, this is where I am going to plant a 350-acre vineyard.” Then imagine that statement of lunacy becoming a physical reality. On top of that, this wine comes from those original vines, planted in 1886 at over 1000’ above Sonoma Valley. It is one of the most beautiful vineyards in the world and the wines are equally exciting. The 2013 is very typical of the vintage—perhaps not as flamboyant as the 2012 but dense, perfumed, focused and ageworthy.
2013 Lorenzo's Heritage Wine
Dry Creek Valley
Lorenzo’s Heritage Wine comes from John and Caterina Teldeschi’s amazing dry-farmed vines on the Dry Creek Bench, a vineyard my family has worked with for almost three decades. The wine is named for Lorenzo Teldeschi, John’s grandfather who planted many of the vines at the turn of the last century. Composed of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Carignane, Valdigue, and Cinsault (called Black Malvoisie in Dry Creek), this is almost always one of the most age-worthy heritage wines we make (the 2008 is drinking beautiful now and the 2009 is just coming into its drinking window). The 2013 is no exception and I expect it to be one of the monuments of this amazing vintage. Give this one a few years and a decant and it is going to be pretty amazing.
2013 Limerick Lane Zinfandel
Russian River Valley
Our first release from this wonderful vineyard owned by Jake and Scot Bilbro and farmed by Steve Matthiason. This vineyard has especially important meaning to me, as my father made the Limerick Lane Winery wines from 1994 to 1996 at Ravenswood. He has long thought the vineyard to be one of the best in the state for Zinfandel and it is wonderful to see it getting the meticulous farming it deserves. Planted in 1910, this is a singular expression of Russian River Valley fruit. The soil is remarkably rocky compared even to other vineyards like Sodini Ranch that are on the same small stretch of road. The resulting wine is structured and highly perfumed, potently fresh with aromatics of blood orange, pomegranate and dust.
2013 Kamen Cabernet Sauvignon
Moon Mountain District
When we make Cabernet we are looking for inspiration from the old school--Mayacamas, Dunn, Mt. Eden, Corison, Togni, Laurel Glen, Ravenswood Pickberry, Chappellet, and Kenwood Artist Series. At Kamen, where the farming is as perfectly modern as it gets under the careful watch of Phil Coturri, we have found a wonderful intersection of modern farming with traditional winemaking and picking levels. Picked at relatively low sugar by Cabernet standards, this wine was fermented in concrete tank where it stayed on skins for almost two months. After pressing it was put down to 50% new oak from Taransaud, Sylvain, Darnajou and Boutes where it remained, unracked, until bottling. This is aromatically driven, mountain Cabernet. It should bring pleasure for several decades.
2013 Hudson Vineyard Syrah
In contrast to the extremity of Alder Springs and its vintage-to-vintage shape-shifting, Hudson is one of our most consistently awesome vineyards. This is, without a doubt, due to the meticulous vineyard practice of Lee Hudson and vineyard manager Kelly Mcleod. The 2013 Hudson continues the string of excellence. Vinified with 50% whole-cluster in 2013 the wine was raised in a mixture of barriques and puncheons without racking. This is classic Hudson-- smoke and bacon fat, brined green olives and violets.
2013 Griffin's Lair Syrah
Every year I struggle to write about Griffin’s Lair. Maybe it is because it is too close to the heart (a wine from the vineyard made by Pax Mahle in 2002 made me want to come home from the East coast to make wine), maybe it is because Joan and Jim Griffin farm it so thoughtfully and perfectly, maybe it is because it has a bad-ass name, who knows. Maybe it is just when a vineyard resonates so perfectly you don’t want to market it for fear of it going away—like not telling anyone the perfect girl who was out of your league gave your upper thigh a warm squeeze during study period in the library (we were all so lame in high school, I should have squeezed back!). I adore the 2013 in all of its exotically feral, Syrah wonderfulness—I think it might be the most complete wine we have made from the vineyard.
2013 Gibson Ranch Grenache Gris
When life gives you ancient Grenache, make ancient Grenache! After picking out our bit of Grenache for rosé at Gibson Ranch I got a call from the ranch’s new owner Jake Bilbro. It was their first year working the vineyard and it turns out they had a few extra tons of the Grenache left. Would I be interested? The stuff we got for rosé had been phenomenal and I wondered what it would look like for red. It should also be noted that none of us are too sure what type of Grenache is up there. It has very light pigmentation and the clusters take on a grayish caste, leading many to suspect it is actually Grenache Gris. Another friend thinks it is too dark for Gris but might be Grenache Rouge, but not Grenache Noir. I frankly don’t know what it is, but I know it is delicious. I have long wanted to make a light, summer, red—a California version of Beaujolais or Pinot D’Aunis or Frappato (yes, I know, those are not just summer wines) but perhaps kissed with just a trace more sunshine. Something fresh, juicy, spicy, and delicious. This fits that description. It was fermented with 50% whole-cluster with no foot-trodding to maximize carbonic fermentation with the rest destemmed. It fermented to dryness with native yeasts and underwent ML in a combination of neutral barrels and concrete tank.
2013 Gibson Heritage Wine
This is one of the most unique field blends we have had the pleasure of making. Rather than a constellation of varieties creating a crucible around Zinfandel, this vineyard contains no Zinfandel, nor mixed-black stalwarts Carignane or Alicante Bouschet. Instead, these physically imposing 1880s plantings are a mix of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Peloursin, Trousseau Noir and Grenache. To me, there is fascinating logic behind this blend. A bit of East meets West, or yin and yang, like Lynn Swann, a football player who practiced ballet. Peloursin is a savage, all color and tannin. Syrah is color but perfume, pepper and a bit of grace. Petite Sirah, which is a cross of the two, shares a bit of each of its parents’ attributes. The raw power of this family of grapes is balanced against two of the lightest colored and most perfumed grapes out there, Grenache and Trousseau Noir. The result is a wine of great backbone but with aromatic finesse and perfume (particularly with time in the decanter)
2013 Evangelho Heritage Wine
Contra Costa County
Planted in the 1890s. If the success of the 2011 was blind
luck (show up with a truck in the wee hours of morning in a place I had never
been based on the tip of a friend), and 2012 was the first effort of following
an entire year’s worth of farming and coming to understand the unique
conditions of Antioch and Oakley, then 2013 is a wine that reflects a better
understanding of the site. Evangelho lies just inland from the Sacramento River
Delta on banks of sand that can reach 40 feet in depth. Though a warm area
there is rarely a day that passes without a serious wind—very much like a
Californian Mistral and the antecedent to the fog coming through the Golden
Gate—racing through the vineyard. This causes the vines to shut down for much
of the hot afternoons, and the result is a wine that seemingly defies
conventional wisdom when it comes warm weather sites. Evangelho is the
earliest-picked vineyard by weeks in the winery, but it is tends to be the
lowest in pH and alcohol of the Heritage Wines. This means that the crackling
red fruit of Carignane, unctuousness of Zinfandel, and terrestrial perfume of
Mourvedre is held aloft by an underlying brightness. Yet another unique terroir
only found in this great State.
2013 Dolinsek Ranch Heritage Wine
Russian River Valley
Planted 1910. This is my favorite vintage of this wine so far. Perhaps a little less forward than the gregarious 2012, this still has the dramatic perfume and opulence that Dolinsek typically has. From vines planted in 1910 on a north-facing slope of Sandy Goldridge Loam, this comes from one of the cooler parts of the Russian River Valley. The vineyard is composed of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Grand Noir de la Calmette, Teroldego, Syrah, Golden Chasselas and even a little delicious Black Muscat.
2013 Compagni Portis
Planted 1954. It was a unique year for this already singular vineyard. Planted in 1954 to a field-blend of Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Trousseau Gris, Roter Veltliner, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris, along with others, and organically farmed by Phil Coturri in concord with Bedrock Wine Co., the vineyard is a jewel. In 2013 the Gewurztraminer ripened at a more accelerated pace while the Trousseau Gris and Riesling lagged behind. The result is a wine that is both unctuous and highly aromatic but with higher acidity than is typical for this vineyard. Fermented with native yeasts in a combination of old oak and stainless steel barrels this wine did not go through malolactic but did sit on lees for close to 10 months.
2013 Carlisle Vineyard Zinfandel
Russian River Valley
Planted 1934. If you are excited about seeing this vineyard on a Bedrock label you can only imagine my sheer joy. I count Mike and Kendall Officer as some of my closest friends and the wines from Carlisle occupy a large portion of my own cellar. Beyond this, Mike and I have spent many hours in vineyards together and he is one of the best ampelographers (the science of vine variety identification) I have ever met. So, when he called during harvest last year and said that he had a few extra tons that he simply did not have space for, I was thrilled to take them. Carlisle Vineyard is perhaps the most diverse vineyard I have seen (almost 40 varieties) and this wine comes from a section that is particularly heavy with Petite Sirah. It is one of many favorites from the vintage—opulent, dark, spicy and reflecting its proud Russian River Valley heritage. The only downside is that this could be the only vintage we make the wine (unless my Faustian bargain with Mephistopheles comes to fruition and Mike gets a little extra crop every year!).
2013 Belle Du Jour Zinfandel
Russian River Valley
Planted in 1927 off of Piner Road in the Russian River Valley, this wine comes from a very well-known vineyard farmed under the supervision of our friend Mike Officer at Carlisle. In fact, I could argue that the 2007 from this vineyard is the best Zinfandel I have had from this decade of the 2000's. For that reason, despite only being made under the Bedrock label in 2013 we could not help but release it. A pure mouthful of dark blue-spiced goodness this wine should be delicious over the next couple of years and should hopefully age nicely as well.
2013 Bedrock Vineyard Heritage Wine
Planted 1888: Always the wine closest to my heart, the Bedrock Vineyard Heritage Wine comes my family’s old vineyard in the heart of Sonoma Valley. Planted between 1888 and 1895 and composed of over 22 interplanted varieties, the Bedrock Vineyard Heritage Wine is the wine that I started the winery to make. The piece of rock strewn red clay soils produced a wine of citrus-tinged red fruits and spice. I hope this wine speaks as much to the vineyard as to the varieties from which it is composed- which of course is the point. Composed of roughly 55% Zinfandel, 30% Carignane, with the balance being the many other varieties scattered throughout the vineyard.
2013 Alder Springs Syrah
Alder Springs Vineyard is a modern miracle of vineyard farming and a testament to the passion and genius of its owner, Stu Bewley. The vineyard possesses a mind-numbing combination of varieties, clones and rootstocks all planted in blocks that climb the sandstone slopes like an undulating step ladder. Our Syrah comes from a combination of Manzanita, Emerald Pool and Spirit Rock. The three sites and multiple clones and rootstock combinations are picked and co-fermented together along with a dollop of Viognier. In 2013 we chose to include 50% whole-clusters in the fermentation for added spice and aromatic levity. This is, if I say so myself, gorgeous Syrah—spicy, animal, peppery with the trademark kiss of spearmint of Alder Springs. This will last a long long time and deserves some time in the cellar.
2012 Weill Vineyard Syrah: Exposition 3
The Wine Advocate, 99 points
My favorite, as it would be if we were tasting Guigal’s La Mouline, is the 2012 Proprietary Red Weill Vineyard Exposition 3, which is 84% Syrah and 16% Viognier with 10% whole-clusters. From a south-facing block, this is definitely a wine of great intensity and incredible complexity, with notes of lychee nut, honeysuckle, black raspberries, crème de cassis and blackberry pie. Full-bodied, opulent, voluptuously textured and massively fruity and rich, this is a stunner and a profound wine, as are its two siblings. This is a great experiment, and the good news, I suppose, is that there are 125 cases of each of these incredible expressions of Syrah. –Robert Parker
2012 Weill Vineyard Syrah: Exposition 2
The Wine Advocate, 96 points
The 2012 Proprietary Red Weill Vineyard Exposition 2 is 92% Syrah and 8% Viognier, 50% whole-cluster and from a southeast-facing block of the same vineyard. The Viognier was co-fermented, and this might well be Twain-Peterson’s La Turque. Notes of charcoal, burning embers, blackberry, cassis and wonderful, sweet honeysuckle are all present in this full-bodied, concentrated, impressively done wine. –Robert Parker
2012 Weill Vineyard Syrah: Exposition 1
The Wine Advocate, 97 points
The "2012 Proprietary Red Weill Vineyard Exposition Project Trio" is three incredible wines from Sonoma County. This is Twain-Peterson’s take on the three LaLa wines from the Guigal family in Côte-Rôtie. He is emphasizing distinct clonal terroir and exposition differences as well as vinifying the wines separately. All three of the following wines were aged 36 months in 100% new French oak. The 2012 Proprietary Red Weill Vineyard Exposition 1, from an east-facing steep slope, is 100% Syrah and 100% whole-clusters. The wine flirts with perfection, with beautiful notes of roasted meats, new saddle leather, black olive tapenade, cassis and blackberry soaring from the glass of this dense purple blockbuster. It’s full-bodied, massive and just incredible. I suppose this would be the La Landonne version of what Peterson is trying to produce. Look for it to drink well for 10-15 or more years. –Robert Parker
2012 Weill A Way Mixed Blacks
A bit of new and a bit of old. Weill Vineyard is the vineyard formerly known as Shanel, from which David Ramey crafted some lovely Syrah’s. The vineyard was developed by Daniel Roberts, also known as Dr. Dirt, who aided in the planting of many vineyards including a couple used by the Turley-Wetlaufer duo on the coast. As such it carries all the hallmarks of a modern vineyard- tightly spaced, modern rootstocks, cane-pruned, etc. Though the vineyard is still mainly planted to Syrah (and is the backbone of the North Coast Syrah), we converted a small section of the vineyard to a recreated field blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Grenache, Tempranillo, and Mourvedre. The vineyard is in a cold site that would normally not get many of these varieties ripe but taking advantage of the tight-spacing we limited the vines to one cluster per shoot and dewinged. All of the fruit was harvest at once and cofermented. The resulting wine has great depth and richness, some of the perfume of a cool site but the density one can get with modern farming.
2012 Sodini Vineyard Zinfandel
Russian River Valley
Another vineyard first for Bedrock Wine Co. in 2012 and one of which I am incredibly proud, not merely for the wine but also because it is an amazing vineyard that was on the verge of being ripped out. In early 2012 I received an email from a guy named Steve Sodini who had a read a piece in the local newspaper that mentioned our deep love of old-vine material and California viticultural history. He mentioned that he had been hit hard in the heat of 2010 and lost nearly all of the crop, and had an equally hard 2011. He was at wits-end, tired of taking a loss on the vineyard, and was thinking that the only option might be to pull out the vines are replant to something higher yielding. It is not an uncommon tale as to how many old vines find their roots dismembered from the ground and their crowns unceremoniously dumped into a mass burn pile. After talking with Steve, it came out that the vineyard was on Limerick Lane next to such great vineyards as Forchini, Bacchi, and Collins (score!), was planted in 1905 (score!), was dry-farmed and nicely head-trained (score!). On top of this the fruit had been going to Marrietta since 1978 and also Rochioli, who vineyard-designated the vineyard in the 90’s. After calling Jake Bilbro at Marrietta to get his blessing (and happily forging a new friendship in the process), and asking friend Mike Officer if he would be willing to share the vineyard, we took oversight of farming and the grapes. The 2012 is wonderful juice, and a happy sign that if the quality is this good after years of essentially no soil amendments and rudimentary farming, that a few years of good cover crops, spading, compost, should turn this vineyard into an absolute jewel. What I love about the vineyard is that it truly lies at the intersection of Russian River Valley and Dry Creek Valley: It lies on the far eastern boarder of RRV, just south of the town of Healdsburg. Not only this, but the flat section of the vineyard lies on sandy-clay loams like much of the Russian River while the hill section lies on an outcropping of iron-laced red soil almost identical to what is at Lorenzo’s/Teldeschi on the Dry Creek Bench. The wine echoes this provenance as it possesses the bright acids and blue fruits of Russian River with some of the structure and opulence of Dry Creek Valley.
2012 Papera Ranch Heritage
Russian River Valley
2012 is the first vintage in the three years that I have worked with this amazing vineyard in the Piner-Olivet area of the Russian River Valley that we have been able to coferment the 40+% interplanted Carignane with the Zinfandel to create the Heritage wine: in 2010 the whole vineyard was lost to the extreme heat of August 24th, in 2011 the Carignane just never made it through the soup of October. And thank goodness we got to, as the resulting wine is a truly singular expression of old-vine goodness from the Russian River Valley. It is a bright and beautiful, youthfully rambunctious wine. This will certainly reward a year or two of time-out in the cellar though extended decanting will allow this wine to show well in the short-term.
2012 Pagani Ranch Heritage Wine
A vineyard that needs little introduction! This old planting of a patchwork of varieties did beautifully in the luxurious year of 2012. In fact, the sheer density and broadness of the wine, which enjoyed a particularly hefty level of mixed blacks due to the fruitfulness of the Alicante, Lenoir, Petite Sirah, and Grand Noir, made us hold it in barrel for several more months. The resulting wine is an age-worthy beauty, though those who like more muscular efforts will be fine opening this in a couple years. At early glance, this looks to be the finest Pagani Ranch to date.
2012 Old Vine Zinfandel
No wines in 2012 benefited more from the combination of quality and quantity then the Sonoma Valley Old-Vine Zinfandel and the North Coast Syrah (to be released with the Winter Release). For instance, the ancient vines at Bedrock, despite the same farming practices as normal yielded almost 3 tons per acre rather than the average 2.3 and that extra fruit needed to go somewhere. As such, the 2012 Sonoma Valley Old-Vine is nearly 40% Bedrock Vineyard Zinfandel, with the remainder coming from Casa Santinamaria Vineyard, Monte Rosso Vineyard, Stellwagen Vineyard, Los Chamizal and Scatena. Best yet, I think the 2012 might be the best version yet of the wine- carrying the hallmark spice and perfume of the Sonoma Valley appellation along with deep fruit and good framing acid structure. All native yeast fermented and raised in 12% new French oak. Back up the proverbial truck! Axe that, back up the literal truck!
2012 Ode to Lulu Rosé
As I have stated before, I probably work harder on my rosé than any other wine I make. Last year I loved the aromatic contribution and freshness created by picking even earlier than normal and by adding a touch of whole-cluster pressed Grenache. However, the Grenache was not old-vine, and I feel strongly about keeping the wine a whole-cluster pressed rosé strictly from older vines. So, in lieu of the Grenache I have substituted even brighter and fresh ancient-vine, own-rooted Carignane from Contra Costa. The usual base of the wine is centered around the Mourvedre planted at Bedrock Vineyard in 1888, along with an additional 10% from Mourvedre planted in 1922 at Pagani Ranch. All lots were picked between 19 and 21.2 brix, whole-cluster pressed, and fermented with native yeasts. The finished rosé is, in my estimation, the best I have made. Vibrant, delicate, and perfumed, the wine should be a great pairing for a food but also have some serious guzzleability.
2012 North Coast Syrah
As with the 2012 Old Vine this wine hopefully punches way above its price tag. The 2012 is composed of Weill Vineyard, Hudson Vineyard, a couple barrels of Griffin’s Lair, Rossi Ranch, and even a barrel of the gorgeous 2012 Alder Springs Syrah. All of the vineyards were fermented with 40-80% whole-cluster and the wine saw roughly 15% new French oak. This is like a hybrid of the dense 2009 and the intensely perfumed 2011 with all the beautifully savage aromatics of game, pepper, olive, violets and hart blood and with dense, smoky fruit and structure. Hopefully a great domestic alternative to Gonon or Graillot- the two G’s of greatness.
2012 Monte Rosso Zinfandel
Moon Mountain District
This is one of the all-stars of the great 2012 vintage. It is easily the best Monte Rosso I have made and carries all the hallmarks of the grand cru site. Powerful, with soaring aromatics and the signature citrus blossom and orange oil imparted by the deep red soils draped slinkily over the western shoulder of Mt. Veeder. This wine can be drunk now with serious decanting but should age easily for a decade or more.
2012 Lorenzo's Heritage
Dry Creek Valley
The soaring return of Lorenzo’s Heritage Wine! This vineyard is actually Teldeschi Vineyard, which my family has worked with since 1984 (and before that Dad work with it at Joe Swan). The wine is named for Lorenzo Teldeschi, the grandfather of the current generation who planted many of the vines. The wine comes from dry-farmed vines planted between 1900 and 1940 on the Dry Creek bench. Composed of roughly 60% Zinfandel, 25% Carignane, and the remainder Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Cinsualt, Valdigue and a few other odds and ends the wine is my favorite since the 2008 vintage. Dense, beautifully fruited black raspberry and pomegranate, spice, and a framework of dusty tannins, this wine is one of my favorites of the vintage. Sure to be a mainstay of the Bedrock and Peterson family portfolio for many more years to come.
2012 Kick Ranch Sauvignon Blanc
This is the best year for this bottling since the inaugural 2009 (in my opinion). The highly aromatic and low-vigor site on the side of rocky hillside in Rincon Valley has created an exotic and aromatically beautiful wine. As in past years the wine was fermented entirely in barrel, with roughly 5% being new Acacia wood. The wine fermented with native yeasts into January and then was sulfured to prevent malolactic. The hope is to create richness from the increased oxidation of the barrel but also to preserve freshness from the reductiveness of the lees and the total lack of malolactic.
2012 Kamen Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
Moon Mountain District
I am so pleased that the vineyard and appellation has piqued peoples’ interest!
First off, the Moon Mountain AVA was just recognized a few years ago, the year of this wine's original release. As a Sonoma Valley boy I have long been aghast that the Sonoma side of Mount Veeder and all of its unique soils, California chaparral, elevation, etc. have been simply lumped into Sonoma Valley, particularly when Sonoma Mountain has long enjoyed its own official viticultural area. Anyone that drives over Oakville Grade and Trinity Road can see the remarkable change in native flora when one passes into the Sonoma-side watershed.
Second, there are roughly three major soil types on the Moon Mountain AVA. The first is the Red Hills Clay Loam that defines Monte Rosso, parts of Repris (formerly known as Moon Mountain Vineyard), Amapola Creek, Rancho Salina, and the several vineyards in the north of the appellation on Nelligan Road in Nun's Canyon (including Bedrock’s rows of 50 year old dry-farmed Cab at Montecillo Vineyard). The second is whiter soils defined by tufa. There is a little of this at Kamen, but more up at Bismark Vineyard and others along Cavedale Road. The third is basically pure basalt, which really differentiates Kamen Vineyard from most other vineyards in that it is intensely, stupidly, tire-poppingly, rocky.
Kamen Vineyard is like no other vineyard I have seen. I have been to most of the Napa "cult" vineyards and I have yet to see one that moves me the way that Kamen does. It is the viticultural opus of Phil Coturri's career that has been funded by the lovely and loveable madness of owner Robert Kamen. There are parts of the vineyard where Phil, via the use of cover crops and compost and rock crushers, has literally created soil on slopes of tennis to soccer ball sized rock. It is as modern and perfect a vineyard as one will find anywhere in California and I would argue it is the best, modern, organically farmed vineyard I have ever seen.
I have long argued (and those who read the newsletter in 2009 when I released the 2007 Bedrock Vineyard Cabernet can attest) that Sonoma Valley is as excellent a site for Cabernet varieties as Napa. However, years of second-rate status has meant that Sonoma wineries get a fraction of what Napa wineries get for their Cabs (even for equally meh wines), which means that they pay less for their grapes, that farmers get paid less, that farmers limit inputs and focus on cropping, that wineries get lower quality grapes, which makes the wines worse, and so on and so on. Yes, I know there are some exceptions but they are the serious minority.
Kamen is one of the only vineyards I have seen in Sonoma that breaks this mold so when Robert offered to sell fruit for the first time in the vineyard's history in 2012 I was immediately in. Yes, it was crazy expensive by my standards, but I have always loved mountain fruit from Mt. Veeder and longed to make it myself. Also, though it was expensive, the fruit farmed the same way in Napa would be 3-4x the amount.
Most importantly, the wine itself is something I am really proud of. It is mountain fruit, made in a relatively old-school way, picked much earlier than the remainder of the vineyard. Hopefully it does justice to the three decades of love and work put into the vineyard by Robert and Phil.
2012 Hudson Vineyard Syrah
One of my favorite vintages of this wine so far. This comes from the T and S blocks of the famed Hudson Ranch. Vinified with 40% whole-cluster and cofermented with a smidge of Viognier, this is classic Hudson-savage, bacon-rind, peppery goodness. Dark and dense this wine will age gracefully but will reward earlier-term drinking with a good decant perhaps a bit better than its 2010 and 2011 counterparts.
2012 Griffin's Lair Syrah
The 2012 Griffin’s Lair is the best wine we have made from the vineyard. When the fruit came in the berries and clusters were so small I thought the wrong variety had been delivered. 80% of the clusters were foot-trod and put into the destemmer with 20% of the fruit destemmed over the top. Roughly 12% Viognier was combined for cofermentation. Following native yeast fermentation, the wine was barreled down to French oak, roughly 20% new. There, it remained unracked until bottling after 15 months in barrel. Wildly Syrah, like violet and peppercorn tinctured raw pintail duck breast. One of my favorite Syrah’s ever to come from the Bedrock cellars. 14.6%
2012 Evangelho Heritage Wine
Contra Costa County
After falling in love with the fragrant and forward 2011 wine, and with the quirky and strangely alluring sands of Contra Costa County, we decided that Evangelho Vineyard deserved a place in the permanent stable of Bedrock Wine Co. The 2012 is a worthy successor to the 2011. Composed of roughly 40% Carignane, 38% Mourvedre, with the remainder Zinfandel, Palomino, Alicante, and Mission, the wine is a great expression of the fresh fruits and zippy acid (natural pH here of 3.4!) found from the well-tended, own-rooted vines planted in the 1890’s in Frankie’s field’o’goodness. Raised in a combination of smaller French oak barrels and a 600 gallon foudre the wine possesses crunchy red fruits of the Carignane, the sappiness of fresh Zinfandel, and the feral and exotic spice and earth of the terrestrial Mourvedre. Drink 2014-2020
2012 Dolinsek Ranch Heritage
Russian River Valley
As usual, Dolinsek Ranch and its 101-year-old vines have created an opulent and beautifully fruited wine. The most forward and open wine of the release this will be a lovely wine for earlier drinking while waiting for its Russian River valley stablemate, Papera Ranch Heritage Wine, to come into its own a bit. This is a delicious mouthful of immediately alluring charm. A veritable Brigitte Bardot in "Et Dieu Cree la femme." Well, if Brigitte Bardot was a spiced huckleberry.
2012 Cuvee Karatas White Wine
We have been sitting on this one for a year and a half. Though it is often hard to read the tea leaves that are cellartracker notes it did seem that many people opened earlier incarnations of this wine expecting it to be more like New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, or something of the type, and then were surprised to find a baby beast of a wine in need of some age to tame the rough age. As a result we decided to hold onto this one a bit before release. Although to be perfectly honest, we love this so much we don’t even really want to sell it. Based around the oldest Semillon left in the New World at Monte Rosso Vineyard, the wine also includes some perfumed Sauvignon Blanc. Barrel fermented and aged for 18 months. This is a rich white wine full of fig, honey, stone fruits and a trace of tobacco leaf, balanced by nice acidity and freshness thanks to the SB.
2012 Compagni Portis Heritage White
The 2012 from this lovely vineyard is a beauty. A field blend of Gewurtzraminer, Trousseau Gris, Riesling, Roter Veltliner, Chardonnay and a few others, the vineyard and wine are truly singular. Planted in 1954, the vineyard is dry-farmed, organically farmed by myself in concord with guru Phil Coturri, and typically crops somewhere between 1 to 1.5 tons per acre. In 2012, we were blessed with a little more fruit to work with which, naturally for us at Bedrock, meant a great opportunity to experiment a little! With this in mind, rather than whole-cluster pressing, as has been the standard practice in years past, we chose to de-stem half of the fruit and soak it overnight. The results were very interesting and will bear repeating in the future. Though the whole-cluster pressed lot was more texturally satisfying and retained a little better acid, the de-stemmed lot had ridiculous aromatics, the juice coming out of the press smelled like roses and red hots (which would also make a great name for a teenage romantic comedy). The two lots fermented with native yeasts and then were combined pre-MLF. In contrast to previous years where I have bottled the wine in five months I gave the wine an extended elevage in stainless steel and neutral barrels for a slightly more evolved aromatic profile (aka, getting rid of a slight hefeweizen aromatic character that as bugged me in past renditions of this wine upon early bottling). I am thrilled with the finished wine.
2012 Bedrock Vineyard Carignane
Carignane from Bedrock has long been one of the “secret ingredients” in the Bedrock Heritage Wine. In 2012 we had enough of it that we could keep four barrels of it separate (something we hope to do every year but the final Heritage wine ends up demanding it). Personally, I adore Carignane in its spicy, bright, beauty. My favorite description of the wine comes from the wine writer Elaine Chukan Brown (whose website is well worth regular reading!), who said of a glass pulled from cask, “it’s all women from another planet wrestling tigers in here.”
2012 Bedrock Heritage Wine
The 2012 Bedrock Vineyard Heritage Wine is a doozy- big and beautiful, it is a theoretical cross of the 2008 and 2009. Composed of the 22 interplanted varieties at Bedrock Vineyard the wine is roughly 55% Zinfandel, 20% Carignane, with the remainder being all the other cofermented things (Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Mourvedre, Grand Noir, Trousseau Noir, Merlot, Cabernet, Syrah, Tempranillo, Castets, etc. etc.). The fruit richness and power of the Zinfandel is framed by the acid, structure, and color brought by the other varieties. As always, I make this wine with an eye towards the past, when variety was secondary to wine-style, when it was endeavored to make "California Claret." This is a singular effort and one that brings me great joy.
2012 Alder Springs Syrah
Much has been said about this remarkable site in the far northern reaches of Mendocino County. Located one ridge in from the Pacific Ocean the vineyard is planted on steep slopes of decomposed sandstone. It is a remarkable terroir farmed by the lovingly maniacal Stu Bewley. Though we started working with the vineyard in 2011, the fruit that year came in on November 1st and finished at under 11% alcohol due to the incredibly cool year (and an indicator of the sites extremity). The 2012 is one of my favorite, and certainly one of the most age-worthy, Syrahs we have made. Vinified with 80% whole-cluster and 3% cofermented Viognier.
2011 Weill Vineyard Syrah: Exposition 3
The third in this series of wines from Weill Vineyard comes from a due south block of both 877 and 470 and was made with 10% whole-cluster and cofermented with 16% Viognier. All of the lots spent three years, unracked, in a combination of large and standard format barrels.
2011 Weill Vineyard Syrah: Exposition 2
The second in this trio of wines from Weill Vineyard, from a south-east facing block of clone 877, was vinified with 50% whole cluster and 8% Viognier.
2011 Weill Vineyard Syrah: Exposition 1
I have been impatient to release this one for a while but the very definition of the project requires temporal restraint. Ever since doing the Hudson Vineyard “Three Ways” experiment in 2008 I have been wanting to do an experiment in a similar vein but roughly following the examples of the interesting “LaLa” wines of Cote Rotie. When we found Weill Vineyard I realized I had found the spot. Planted at the mouth of Sonoma Valley (technically in the sprawling Sonoma Coast AVA) the vineyard, planted by vineyard guru Daniel Roberts (think Marcassin, Blue Side Ridge, most Ramey Vineyards, etc.), is a jumble of Syrah clones, exposures, and soils along with a good chunk of Viognier. For the project we took three distinct clonal and exposure expressions and vinified them quite differently. The first, done entirely with clone 470 from a steep east facing block, was vinified with 100% whole-cluster. It was pretty remarkable seeing the transformation of these three wines and how their individuality grew with extended time untouched in barrel. I am extremely pleased with the results and have repeated the exercise every subsequent year. Between three and four barrels were made of each wine so quantities are very limited.
2011 Sonoma Valley Old-Vine Zinfandel
If there is any wine of the 2011 releases that accurately demonstrates the poised, claret-like, character of the 2011 vintage it is the 2011 Sonoma Valley Old-Vine. The late ripening Stellwagen Vineyard once again was included into this cuvee to lend its dark fruit, and Casa Santinamaria, another vineyard originally slated for vineyard designation, was included for its beautiful spice. The remainder of the wine is composed of Zinfandel from the terraced Los Chamizal Vineyard, some younger vine fruit from Rossi Ranch in Kenwood, a few barrels of Monte Rosso Zinfandel, and a dollop of old-vine Carignane and Mourvedre from my Bedrock Vineyard. This is old-school Zin- bright, focused, and energetic. Like previous releases of this wine, I would expect it will reward a year or so of short-term aging.
2011 Saitone Ranch Zinfandel
Russian River Valley
Saitone Ranch, which lies next to Papera Ranch in the Piner-Olivet area of the Russian River Valley, was planted in 1896. As one would expect it has a smidge of Petite Sirah, Alicante, and other mixed-blacks in it. Perhaps due to vine age and perhaps due to farming the Saitone is a step up in breadth and intensity from neighboring Papera. The wine was raised in a combination of smaller French barrels and a 600 gallon foudre. Typical of the Russian River Valley this wine has a low pH of 3.4 which balances the density of fruit with a laser beam of brightness.
2011 Papera Ranch Zinfandel
Russian River Valley
The 2011 Zinfandel Papera Ranch emerges from the glass with sweet dried cherries, mint, tobacco and spices. It is fascinating to taste the Papera next to the Saitone as the parcels are adjacent. The Papera has a slightly more dried out profile in its fruit and tons of spiciness, while the Saitone is more overtly floral, silky and vibrant. In 2011, the Papera is all about textural elegance, silkiness and finesse. This site was planted in 1934 almost exclusively to Zinfandel.
2011 Pagani Ranch Heritage Wine
As Sonoma Valley doglegs gently towards the west above Glen Ellen a number of geological and climatic shifts occur. Rather than the ferrous, volcanic soils that have tumbled down the steep aspects of Mount Veeder and the Mayacamas Mountains to the East, the soils in some parts see an interloping of ash and clay from Sonoma Mountain to the West. Also, the fog comes in later and leaves earlier, resulting in colder night and warmer days. As a result, the fruit tone of Pagani Ranch is always dramatically different from its Sonoma Valley brethren in the Bedrock Wine Co. quiver. Whereas Bedrock and Monte Rosso tend to be dominated by high-pitched red fruit and bright spice, Pagani is dark and brooding. If the former two are Dmitri and Alexie, Pagani is Ivan Karamazov. Like the Monte Rosso this will need a few years to flesh out but might be the most promising Heritage wine in the 2011 canon.
2011 Ode To Lulu Rosé
In the ongoing quest to craft the perfect rosé there are some revisions to the 2011 Ode to Lulu. Rather than being completely composed of whole-cluster pressed Mourvedre from Bedrock planted in 1888, this vintage the wine also contains 31% whole-cluster pressed Mourvedre from Pagani Ranch planted in 1921 and 9% younger-vine Grenache treated the same way from Annadel Vineyard. All the lots were picked between 19.6 and 21.2 brix. They were vinified separately using native yeasts and then blended back together. This is easily the most delicate version of this wine yet. It is a beautiful light copper-pink and weighs in at 12.3% alcohol. This will pair nicely with a wide range of Spring and Summer fare or simply on its own. God, I love rosé!
2011 North Coast Syrah
In 2011 I decided to take the painful step of declassifying both Alder Springs and Hudson T Syrah into a North Coast Syrah bottling along with Shanel Vineyard, a trace of Griffin’ss Lair, and a dollop of Viognier from Steiner Ranch on Sonoma Mountain. The end result is a more complete wine, dare I say the best QPR Syrah bottling I have released, but it certainly makes for a slim margin! Alder Springs, which was harvested on Oct. 31st at 21.6 brix, adds lovely high tone perfume, while the Hudson fills out the mid palate and contributes its usual savage, animal character. Shanel was all pepper and anise. Add the mountain flowers of Steiner Vio and you have got yourself a killer wine. Though I liked the 2009, loved the aromatics on the 2010, this is the most complete introductory bottling Bedrock has released.
2011 Monte Rosso Zinfandel
As one might expect, the 2011 Zinfandel from this venerable vineyard planted in 1886 high on the western flank of Mt. Veeder is full of mountain fruit character. By this I mean it is high-tone, taut, full of spice and lifted red fruits, and definitely in need of some time to chill out. My father thinks this wine reminds him of his 1993 (his first year working with the same block of fruit from the vineyard), and it is indeed similar in both alcohol (14.3%) and acid. That wine, which was also taught and a bit curmudgeonly in its youth, blossomed after five years in bottle, and a recently cracked bottle was still fresh and lovely. As with all Bedrock Wine Co. wines this was fermented with native yeasts in a small open-top fermenter. It was raised in 35% new French oak from four Burgundian coopers.
2011 Lachryma Montis Late Harvest Semillon
Moon Mountain District
Honestly, I don’t even want to release this wine as I would much rather slowly drink it myself over the next forty years. 2011 being the botrytis rich year that it was, this wine came into the winery rife with edelfaule (yes, that’s German for botrytis). In fact, it was an astronomical 42 brix out of the press. It took nearly 10 months for it to finish fermenting to 10.6% alcohol and 212 grams per liter of residual sugar. We got 1.5 barrels of this unctuous marzipan and tupelo honey laced stuff. It is going to last a long time and I doubt whether I will see another vintage in the next twenty that will be this good for dessert wine.
2011 Kick Ranch Syrah
As usual this is the most forward and immediately approachable of the Bedrock Syrah offerings. It is a combination of three different clones grown on the cool and rocky along with a dollop of Viognier, all cofermented using native yeasts. For the first time I included a small amount of whole-cluster (roughly 15%), a practice that turn to more heavily in the other Syrah’s. As a result of both the cool year, but also the stems and Viognier inclusion, this is rich and forward but a little more feminine than previous offerings. Frankly, it is a little more towards my evolving tastes in Syrah and I am excited to see what people think.
2011 Kick Ranch Sauvignon Blanc
As usual the steep and rocky hillsides of Kick Ranch yielded a small crop of flavorful Sauvignon Blanc. I picked about a week before anyone else knowing the barrel fermentation and lees stirring was going to add plenty of richness to the final wine. Always fiddling/attempting to perfect I changed up the vinification a little bit. Much of the Sauvignon Musque went down to used barrels along with 12% new Acacia wood. The remainder was fermented in a 600 gallon oak foudre to enhance lees contact without as much stirring. I am very pleased with the resulting wine-- perfumey and high-tone but possessing a lifted but broad center. 450 cases made.
2011 Hudson Vineyard Syrah
Last fall I made the painful decision to only make a single Hudson Vineyard Cuvee and declassified all of 5 block (pleine de chene bottling), and most of t-block into the North Coast Syrah. In putting together the barrel-by-barrel blend for this wine I feel that I definitely made the right decision. S-block is the rockstar Syrah of the vintage- carrying the usual Hudson hallmarks of bacon, black olive tapenade, and smoke. The limited amount of T-block in the blend comes from the more meager T-West block and adds serious game to the equation. Like all the 2011 wines, this is not as powerful as its 2010 and 2009 predecessors, but it might be better served for it.
2011 Griffin's Lair Syrah
This is a distinct departure from the Griffin’s Lairs of 2009 and 2010- two wines that are in need of several more years of unwinding to show the prettiness of their inner stuffing. Going into the 2011 vintage I was lucky enough to be offered the little bit of Viognier at Griffin’s Lair, so I knew that I would be able to swirl in a white line of finesse. This was compounded by the cool 2011 harvest. The final wine, which was fermented with 60% whole-cluster and 11% Viognier is probably the most graceful Syrah I have made- aromatically enthralling with edges like Audrey Hepburn’s slender hips. As with all young Syrah, this will benefit from early decanting, but should be at its peak in 5-6 years rather than the normal 9-12 for this vineyard. 10 barrels made
2011 Evangelho Heritage Wine
Contra Costa County
I might be more excited about this wine than any wine in the cellar this year. The 100+-year-old mixed vines of Evangelho Vineyard stretch upwards on their own roots out of 40 foot banks of sand. This wine was made on a lark and a percentage of its profits should probably be given back to my friend who called me September 9th of 2011 saying that Frankie Evangelho still had some fruit. I arrived at the vineyard having never been to Contra Costa County before. Upon arriving I rubbed my bleary eyes, trying to clarify the image of vines from California's viticultural antiquity standing starkly against the backdrop of softly blinking lights atop the tours of the PG & E power plant behind it. I was greeted by Frank Evangelho, forever to be known as Frankie from here forward, and as my bins were loaded on the picking trailers I was asked what I wanted to pick. I asked about Zinfandel, but after tasting delicious unpicked Mourvedre and Carignane I asked about that too. We started picking: first the Zinfandel, mixed with Carignane and Mourvedre, then the Mourvedre mixed with Carignane and some whites, and then the Carignane mixed with Mourvedre and whites. He asked if I wanted the whites. Sure! Back at the winery the fruit was all destemmed together into the same fermenter. I am not quite sure what is actually what but my guess is that it is about 40% Zinfandel, 25% Mourvedre, 15% Carignane, and 10% mixed whites. The wine, if I may say so, is fucking delicious. As with Rhone wines that grow on sand, the wine is marked by high-tone perfume and lift, broad rich fruit, and a pirouette of bright acid that leaves the mouthwatering for more. What is perhaps most exciting is that in the three years of 2009, 2010, and 2011, where I generally have to tell people to wait! Don't drink that yet! I can say, Drink this! Drink it with this year's turkey!
2011 Dolinsek Ranch Heritage Wine
Russian River Valley
In 2011 the Dolinsek's got a whopping .5 tons to the acre off of their mixed vines planted in 1910. In contrast to the Papera and Saitone, which are grown on heavier soils on the east side of the Laguna del Santa Rosa, Dolinsek lies on a north-facing hillside of Sandy Goldridge Loams on the west side of the water. The vines, even carrying 1-2 clusters per vine, struggle to ripen in the water and sun-starved environment. The result is that Dolinsek is always one of the latest picks of the year and that the wine is one of the most uncannily dense wines that I make. People don't normally associate the term minerality with old-vine field blends but this one has it. A rockstar wine from one of my favorite vineyards.
2011 Compagni Portis Heritage White
As I have written in the past I am just smitten with this vineyard. The eclectic field blend of Gewurtzraminer, Riesling, Chardonnay, Roter Veltliner, and others was planted in 1954. Starting in 2010 I began overseeing the farming of the vineyard with organic guru Phil Coturri. Though we (with your help!) have invested a lot in the vineyard (new posts, wires, spading, cover crops, compost) there is still much to be done. The dry-farmed vines yielded a scant 1 ton to the acre in 2011. The wine was whole-cluster pressed and native yeast fermented in a combination of stainless steel and older French barrels. As one would expect from a cooler year this is a more delicate version of Compagni; it is beguilingly fragrant and expressive and will likely reward earlier drinking than the 2009 or 2010.
2011 Casa Santinamaria White
The first vintage from these venerable vines planted in 1905. Like the Compagni Portis, this is a old-field blended white vineyard, but the varieties present are completely different. This is composed of Muscadelle, Chasselas, Zinfandel, Semillon, and even a little bit of Chardonnay. I picked everything together (including the red Zinfandel) and whole-cluster pressed it into a mix of old French oak barrels and stainless steel barrels. The wine fermented with native yeasts and ML was inhibited. The resulting wine is certainly unique! Though not as effusively aromatic as the Compagni Portis it possesses uncanny density and lift for a wine that did not see either malolactic or new oak. To be honest it reminds me most of a Marsanne/Roussanne blend. Eight barrels made.
2011 Bedrock Vineyard Heritage Wine
The grand poobah! The 2011 Bedrock Heritage Wine comes from vines planted 123 years ago at my family's vineyard in Sonoma Valley. It is a field-blend of 22 different varieties. Dominated by Zinfandel the remaining 40% of the wine is Carignane, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Grand Noir de la Calmette, Syrah, Tempranillo, Trousseau, Mission, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and many others. Bedrock lies in the alluvial wash of the famed Monte Rosso Vineyard and is the only vineyard on the valley floor to share the same Red Hill Clay Loam soils that pour downward from the west slopes of Mount Veeder. The 2011 is dominated by fragrant red fruits, spices, and a dollop of orange oil. Like all the Sonoma Valley offerings from 2011 the wine is nervy and young and will need a few years to loosen its sinewy limbs and limber up.
2010 Sonoma Valley Old-Vine Zin
Despite the difficulty of the harvest for Zinfandel, I feel that the 2010 version of this wine is
actually better than the 2009. Why? Because though Stellwagen and Puccini Vineyard, which were slated to be vineyard designates were quite good (to be honest even my father is wondering why I am not vineyard designating Stellwagen), I am just not 100% pleased with the wines. As a result, I am turning the Sonoma Valley Old-Vine bottling into a super-cuvee of sorts. The backbone of the wine comes from the 1890s planting of Zinfandel at Stellwagen, with nearly equal parts of fruit from the 1930s plantings at Scatena Vineyard (actually a crazy field blend of Zinfandel and the obscure Aubun and Abouriou) and younger vines from steep and rocky terraces of Los Chamizal Vineyard. Add to this a couple dollops of fruit from Kenwood's Rossi Ranch and a barrel and a half of wine from the 1905 plantings at Puccini Vineyard along with 13% old-vine Mourvedre from Bedrock Vineyard and you have the blend. The wine saw about 18% new French oak from Rousseau, Ermitage, and Orion.
As many of you already know, I prefer Zinfandels that are classically structured that are not shy on tannin and leavening acidity. Though it was impossible to avoid 15% alcohol given the heat-wave in 2010, the fruit got there from being picked sub-24.5 brix and soaking up, rather than being picked at 29 and watered back (a FAR too common practice these days) which makes a major difference in fruit tone (fresh rather than jammy, bright rather than mute). In short, I hope my Zinfandels are close to my fathers from the early and mid-90s. I love Sonoma Valley Zinfandel for its spice, its age worthiness, and its lyricism. If Russian River Valley is Miles Davis's Blue period, Dry Creek his Bebop, Sonoma Valley is his Sketches of Spain. This should provide much drinking pleasure over the next 5-7 years. 650 cases made.
2010 Sonoma Coast Syrah
The cool 2010 vintage has led to the most aromatically enticing and delicate Sonoma Coast Syrah to date. The wine's backbone is from Wildcat Mountain Vineyard, which came into the winery late in October at 23.4 brix. The remainder of the wine is composed of Griffins Lair Syrah, a trace of Old Lakeville, and a smidge of Hudson for depth. All of the lots saw some percentage of whole-cluster, and I would merit a guess that the wine is roughly 33% whole-cluster with 20% new oak. Aromatically effusive, the wine smells of violets and cracked pepper. Currently, the wine is still tight and demands a good decanting prior to consumption.
2010 Papa's All Blacks
It is very exciting to feature the first blend put together by my father and me. The idea is to make a wine that will last for decades from those varieties first grown in California. The wine is composed of Zinfandel from the ancient Stellwagen and Monte Rosso Vineyards, along with Petite Sirah and Alicante Bouschet from my family's Bedrock Vineyard. After native-yeast fermentation the wine was put down to 50% new French oak. This is a massively endowed wine, full of fruit and tannin with still prominent oak. I, personally, would stash this one in the back of the cellar and check it out in 4-5 years when the intricacies of its personality can be better seen.
2010 Pagani Heirloom Wine
The first vintage for Bedrock working with this great, highly-diverse, vineyard planted in the 1880s. Though also in Sonoma Valley, Pagani Ranch is in the northern section of the AVA where the nights are colder and the days are warmer. The result is a shift downward in fruit tone. Rather than the bright, spicy, red fruits that tend to dominate Bedrock and Monte Rosso, Pagani features dark berries, and darker, almost exotic, spicing. Given its coolness Pagani was also the most effected by the August 23-25th heat. Amazingly, Dino Amantite and his family did a remarkably selective pick that yielded less than .5 tons per acre. The field-blend of Zinfandel, Alicante Bouschet, Grand Noir de la Calmette, Petite Sirah, and Lenoir was native yeasts fermented and put down to 40% new French oak from Ermitage and Rousseau. I love this wine, though it is the bruiser of the 2010 Heirloom Wines. Dark, black, and aromatically effusive, this is not a shrinking-violet at 15+ percent alcohol. However, it has remarkable depth, spice, and vibrant acid that balances the fruit. 7 barrels made.
2010 Ode to Lulu Rosé
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, Jun 11
(made from century-old vines and harvested at a very low 20.9 degrees Brix): Pale orange. Nervy and precise on the nose and in the mouth, offering pure red berry and blood orange flavors and notes of bitter cherry and herbs. A very dry, grown-up style of pink wine with impressive depth and energy. Finishes with firm grip and spicy cut, leaving gentle floral and anise notes behind. This wine was fermented with all whole clusters.
2010 Monte Rosso Zinfandel
I have been going to Monte Rosso Vineyard since I was a twelve years old kid. It was 1993 when my father started receiving fruit from the storied Martini vineyard and I still remember his excitement and awe. The soils are crimson red, the slopes are steep, and the vines twist upwards from the earth like Medusa's serpentine follicles. For nine years Ravenswood made one of the best examples of Zinfandel from the vineyard's testament both to my father's skill as a winemaker (mountain Zinfandel comes with its own set of challenges), and to the block from which he received fruit. Alas, in 2002, following the sale of Ravenswood to Constellation and the sale of Martini to the Gallo family, Ravenswood stopped receiving fruit from the vineyard. In 2007, when I started Bedrock, one of my first calls was to inquire about fruit. Though the Gallo family generously was able to provide me with the ancient Semillon that makes up the backbone of Cuvee Caritas starting in 2008, it was not until last year that I was told they might have some old-vine Zinfandel available. Now, Monte Rosso is a mammoth vineyard truly a jaw-dropping Gargantua when you consider it was put in on the rocky side of a mountain in the 1880s with only dynamite and hand-labor so I had no idea what fruit I would be receiving. As fine fortune would have it, I was taken to my father's old block, its beautiful, steep, westerly, aspect and gnarled skyward vines looking virtually the same to my 29-year-old eyes as they had 16 years earlier. The 2010 is the best Zinfandel I have ever made. Yes, it is rich and ripe, bearing 15%+ alcohol, but it also carries those things that I love most about Monte Rosso the mountain spice, the almost claret-like texture, the vibrant red fruits. If you are a tannin maven like me you will like this wine young, but as the many wines I have had from Martini from the 60s and 70s show, Monte Rosso Zinfandel has an uncanny knack for aging elegantly for many decades. 300 cases made.
2010 Kick Ranch Syrah
As usual this is the most forward and immediately alluring of the Syrahs. Vinified with 5% Viognier and no stems, it is a forward, anise and violet, laced Syrah that is as aromatically compelling as it is delicious. Composed of two clones (470 and 383) from Dick Keenan’s superbly farmed ranch, this Syrah I find to be one of the more soul-satisfying I make, even if it is not the most ageworthy or dense. 6 barrels made.
2010 Kick Ranch Sauvignon Blanc
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, May/June '11
Greenish yellow. Bright, pure aromas of apple, lime pith, quince and herbs. Supple and suave, with lovely inner-mouth perfume and depth to its ripe flavors of lime, fig and peach. Acts like a cross between a Loire sauvignon blanc and a white Bordeaux, with the former's energy and the latter's power. The long finish shows subtle sweetness and excellent clarity. This was fermented in acacia wood barrels, according to Morgan. 91 points
2010 Hudson T'n'S Syrah
Starting in 2010 I will be splitting the Hudson Syrahs into two bottlings based on the two distinctly different parts of Hudson Ranch. The Hudson TnS is composed of two beautiful blocks of Syrah (and a dash of Viognier) from the south ranch. T, planted in 1993 for my good friend and partner in Abrente, Michael Havens, is composed primarily of Syrah Noir clone. S, planted more recently, is Alban-selection. In 2010 I cofermented the two blocks together after picking at 24.1 brix (as usual I was the first to pick out of the vineyard which seems to be becoming a theme). For structure and spice I included 40% whole-clusters, which were foot trod and added to the bottom of the open-top fermenter. Fermentation, as always, was done with native yeasts. The wine was transferred to a variety of new demi-muids (600 liter barrels) and older French. The wine stayed on lees until racking for bottling in December of 2011. As with most of my Syrahs this is an ageworthy wine, that is going to need some time to unwind and come into itself.
2010 Hudson 'Pleine de Chene' Syrah
The last year for pleine de chene as this will just become Hudson Vineyard North moving forward. The reason? To be honest I just do not enjoy the 2008 and 2009 Pleines all that much- and though they were great as an academic experiment I want to love the wines I make. As such, even though this is called Pleine de Chene it only received 60% new French oak rather than the normal 100% new. The north part of Hudson Ranch is off of Henry Road and is shielded from some of the bay influence by the last ridge of the Mayacamas range. As such, the nights here are colder and the days a little warmer. The result is a wine that is more primary, savage, meaty, and rich than the more floral and violet-laced TnS.
2010 Griffin's Lair Syrah
The Wine Advocate
The 2010 Syrah Griffins Lair is the most introspective and shut down of the 2010 Syrahs. This is a decidedly cool, mineral-drenched wine that needs time in the glass to blossom. Black olives, savory herbs, sage, graphite and bacon fat are all found in this pointed, intense Syrah. I love the sheer character and personality here. Griffins Lair is 100% Syrah, made with 55% whole clusters. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2025. 92+
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Saturated ruby. A complex bouquet offers blackberry, cherry pit, violet and spicecake, complemented by smoky minerality. On the palate, intense dark fruits are joined by suggestions of allspice and licorice. Fine-grained tannins add shape and grip to the very long, sappy, spice-dominated finish. (JR) 92 points
2010 Cuvee Karatas
This is the third iteration of this, the “flagship” white wine at Bedrock. As usual it is a blend of the 120-year-old Semillon growing high above Sonoma Valley at Monte Rosso Vineyard and Sauvignon Blanc from Kick Ranch. Both lots are barrel-fermented in mildly-toasted Bordeaux barrels, of which 85% were new. The rich, fig and tobacco-laced Semillon is put through malolactic, while the aromatic, stone-fruit rich, Sauvignon Blanc from the rocky hillside of Kick Ranch is not to lend brightness and cut. The 2010 is a hypothetical crossing of the very rich 2008 and the bright 2009. I anticipate that this wine will improve over the next decade.
2010 Compagni Portis Heirloom White
In 2009 I took this vineyard not really knowing what to expect. Yes, I had tried the excellent wines made by my friend Will Bucklin, and yes, I was besmirched (as I often am by plants from California's viticultural antiquity) by the nearly 60-year-old, dry-farmed, vines of varieties of many different hues and shades: However, I was not expecting to fall in love. For me, the odd combination of field-blended whites yields a wine that offers a glimpse at the white wines of yore in California. Rose, lychee, and spice come from the Gewurtzraminer, while brightness and enough backbone are given by the Trousseau Gris, Riesling, Berger, Green Hungarian, and whatever else is out there. For me it has exactly what I am looking for when it comes to an heirloom wine: it is a sporadic, seemingly random assemblage of varieties that can only be found together here in California's oldest vineyards and makes a wine more indicative of place than variety, spacing, farming, or anything else. That said, farming is important, and this winter I decided, as many men do when their emotions get in the way of their better senses, to lavish the vineyard with some viticultural bling. Decades of minimal farming (and who can farm when getting $1200 a ton!) had rendered a vineyard full of blackberries and poison oak, dead vine limbs fraught with eutypa and bot canker, missing vine positions, and limited vigor. This winter vineyard manager Phil Coturri, the Compagni Portis family, and I, started a rejuvenation project. Gone are the blackberries and poison oak stealing the vines water and causing pricks and rashes. A pyre of the fungus ridden vine arms slowly killing the plants was set ablaze. In their stead are a set of new wires, a full conversion to cane pruning to increase the number of spur positions and potential clusters (I love concentrated fruit but .9 tons per acre is simply economically unsustainable), and in the fall the first set of cover crops will be put down to add nutrients back to soil and increase friability and tilth. What does this mean? It means that Bedrock dropped some serious coin, but that we have taken the first step in making sure the vineyard will be around for another sixty years. I say this as preamble to the raise in price from $20 to $24 dollars per bottle for the wine so you will know that I am not simply trying to line my pockets. In reality, selling all six barrels of the wine at this new price will only pay for half of the improvements. Rather, I am hoping you will be willing to join me in preserving this one-of-a-kind vineyard from a bygone age. As for the winemaking, this is a vineyard where I believe simplicity is key. The wine was whole-cluster pressed and then fermented in stainless-steel and neutral oak barrels with native yeasts. The richness of fruit and spice in 2010 prompted me to halt malolactic conversion to retain brightness to leaven the opulence of the fruit. I am unquestionably pleased with the results. Six barrels produced.
2010 Brosseau Chardonnay
When it comes to vineyard stats Brosseau Vineyard has the equivalent of centerfold numbers. The 30-year-old, original Wente-clone, Chardonnay is both own-rooted and dry-farmed. As if this is not enough, the vineyard is located at 1600 feet on the limestone and decomposed granite soils of Chalone. The result of all of these factors is that the fruit is expressive and delicious at almost freakishly low sugar levels. In 2010 the fruit came into the winery at 20.6 brix! The fruit was gently whole-cluster pressed and then fermented using native yeasts in 25% new French oak. In order to retain focus and purity malolactic conversion was partially blocked. This is mineral-laced Chardonnay that will do well at the table.
2010 Bedrock Heirloom Wine
The viticultural gods smiled on Bedrock Vineyard in 2010. While the fierce heat did cause damage to some of the younger vines, the 1888 plantings withstood the withering meteorological assault like the champs they are. I sourced the Zinfandel and mixed-blacks from three separate blocks- each coming into the winery in the 24.5 brix range. I picked the Carignane and Mourvedre separately, and for this year, all of the old-vine Syrah-- though picked out vinified separately-- has been added to the final blend. The final wine is roughly 55% Zinfandel, 25% Carignane, 11% Mourvedre, and 9% Syrah and the numerous other “mixed-blacks” found in the vineyard. As usual, the wine is dominated by the orange-oil, spice, and perfume of the vineyard. In the range of power, this wine occupies a middle ground between the elegant 2009 and powerful 2008. Though delicious now I think this wine will drink best a few years down the road. 400 cases made.
2010 Bedrock Cabernet Sauvignon
As most of you already know I only make a few barrels of Cabernet a year, and until 2012, it has always been sourced from my family’s Bedrock Vineyard. The reason for this is that I have very particular tastes when it comes to Cabernet- I like it old-school, picked on the early side, unafraid of tannins. I want it farmed impeccably. I want to make Cab that is going to be better in ten or twenty years. The 2010 in many ways encapsulates this. Perfumed, structured, and taut, the wine saw 26 months in 80% new French oak from Taransaud, Darnajou. Sylvain, and Bordelaise. Definitely one to lay down.
2009 Stellwagen Vineyard Zinfandel
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, May/June '11
Glass-staining ruby. Powerful cherry and blueberry aromas are complicated by dried flowers, allspice and minerals. Fleshy, gently sweet black and blue fruit compote flavors are firmed by silky tannins and pick up a candied lavender note with air. Rich but in no way heavy, finishing with excellent clarity and lingering sappiness. This looks like it will drink well young but also has the depth for aging. 91 points
The Wine Advocate
Morgan Peterson reveals his DNA with the 2009 Zinfandel Stellwagon. A brilliant, irresistibly sexy, full-throttle Zinfandel, it displays abundant pepper, herb, bouquet garni and meaty notes as well as fruit, glycerin and high octane. This classic California Zinfandel can be drunk over the next 5-6 years. 91 points
2009 Sonoma Coast Syrah
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, May/June '11
Deep ruby. Textbook syrah aromas and flavors of dark berries, violet and smoked meat, along with olive and mineral nuances that become more emphatic with air. Juicy and precise in the mouth, offering sweet blackberry and blueberry flavors and a note of gingerbread. Finishes on an intensely spicy note, with lingering mineral and floral qualities. I like this wine's clarity and vivacity. 91 points
The Wine Advocate
The 2009 Syrah Sonoma Coast possesses refined, sweet tannins as well as lots of black fruits intermixed with notions of camphor, lard and forest floor, purity, a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel and a long finish. 91-93+
2009 Rebecca's Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley
Yeah, so I forgot to order enough labels when we originally bottled this back in 2010 and more cases than I care to admit have been sitting in our temperature-controlled warehouse for more years than I would like to think about. The good news is that this wine, the last Pinot Noir we made, is absolutely singing right now. The grapes came from a vineyard located right across the street from Joe Swan Winery in the Laguna-Trenton part of Russian River Valley planted on the signature Sandy Goldridge Loam soils. This is satisfying stuff, full of signature black cherry and bergamot. Original Release Notes:
From the scant-yielding slopes of the Hermsmeyer family vineyard in the Golden Triangle of the Russian River Valley comes the expressive 2009 Rebecca’s Vineyard. I love this wine, and think it could be the best Pinot I have made. It is downright Oregonian in tone compared to the more blockbuster 2008 (what one might expect in vintages of wildly different ripening!), and I think is better off for it. The nose expresses fresh black cherry, dark, exotic spices, and traces of vanilla. The final wine is a combination of a suitcase clone and Pommard-4 and was aged in 60% new French oak from Tonnelleries Gauthier, Rousseau, and Mercurey. Due to the backwardness of the vintage I gave this wine 16 months in barrel rather than its normal 11-12 as I feel it was taken a little longer for it to become expressive. 10 barrels made.
2009 Old Vine Zinfandel
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, May/June '11
Deep ruby. Ripe cassis, blackberry, singed plum and subtle spice scents convey good power and clarity. Deep dark fruit flavors coat the palate, picking up notes of licorice and white pepper with air. Fleshy and packed with dark berry fruit but rather brooding now, showing good depth, concentration and finishing punch. I'd let this rest a bit. 89+
2009 Old Lakeville Syrah
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, May/June '11
(vinified with 40% whole clusters): Bright violet. Intense scents of blackberry, cherry-cola and candied violet, with strong mineral and spicecake accents. Shows energetic, peppery, very pure flavors of dark berries and candied flowers. Picks up a wild herb note on the back, finishing sweet and impressively long, with lingering suggestions of tangy minerals and allspice. 92 points
2009 Ode to Lulu Rosé
The second iteration of this wine follows on the great success of the first. Last year Lulu received the highest score for rosé given (90 points) from both Spectator and Tanzer. I am absolutely convinced that this year’s is even better. The 120-year-old vine Mourvedre was picked at 22.5 brix in the last week of September. It was destemmed and immediately put in the press, where it was squeezed off to tank. Fermented cold with native yeasts, the wine stayed on its lees through ML (and yes, this is common practice in Bandol, and it means that I do not have to sterile filter it before bottling). The Mourvedre, as in 2008, shows why it is such a brilliant vehicle for rosé. The aromatics are of bright red fruits, but are complexed by the underbrush, forest floor, funkiness of the Mourvedre grape. The palate is clean and vibrant and shows the length and density expected by such low-yielding vines (2.5 tons per acre) of such age. This will be perfect with the holy trinity of summer food whether it be cured meats, cheese, and great bread, or, cold chicken, fresh tomatoes, and basil. There is nothing like good rosé!
2009 Lorenzo's Vineyard Heirloom Wine
Dry Creek Valley
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, May/June '11
(a blend based on 50% zinfandel and 25% carignane): Opaque purple. Powerful, ripe cherry and blackcurrant aromas are deepened by strong mineral and violet tones. A rich, rather brooding style, with chewy texture and deep, liqueur-like dark fruit flavors. Finishes ripe and very long, with powerful tannins; this could use some time to loosen up. 90(+?) points
2009 Lachryma Montis Late-Harvest Semillon
Lachryma Montis means “tears of the mountain” in Latin, which somehow seems fitting for this unctuous wine made from the ancient-vine Semillon growing high up on Mount Veeder on brick-red soils. First off, this wine will not be a yearly thing, rather will only be made when conditions for botrytis are right (none will be made in 2010). The grapes were picked at the end of the first week of November in 2009 at 40.6 brix. After pressing, the juice was put into 100% new French Oak and allowed to barrel ferment slowly over the course of ten months, followed by an additional two months of lees contact and stirring. The final wine is just under 13% alcohol with a little over 200 grams-per-liter of residual sugar. As one might expect it tastes like apricot preserves swirled with tupelo honey, exotic vanilla, wafer, and spice. Five barrels produced.
2009 Kick Ranch Syrah
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, May/June '11
Inky purple. Rich, pungent aromas of singed plum, blackberry, cherry compote and espresso, plus a hint of licorice. Full and weighty but lively as well, with strong cherry and plum flavors accented by dark chocolate, espresso and candied violet. Finishes with pliant, harmonious tannins and excellent persistence. This decidedly rich, powerful wine would work well with grilled meats or strong cheeses. There's 5% viognier in here and all of the grapes were destemmed; it's carrying 15.1% alcohol but I get no heat. 92 points
2009 Kick Ranch Sauvignon Blanc
After playing with a couple tons of fruit from this phenomenal site in 2008 as part of the Cuvee Caritas Bordeaux Blanc blend, I decided to ask owner Dick Keenan for as much fruit as he was willing to give me. If the great muse for the Caritas is Haut-Brion Blanc, the archetypes for this wine are the stony efforts of the late, great, Didier Dagueneau (if you are going to aim for something you might as well aim high!) The rocky, steep, site on the backside of Spring Mountain dramatically reduces the natural vigor of Sauvignon Blanc, and the yields are measly. The resulting fruit is concentrated, perfumed, and singular. In contrast to the 100% new oak employed on the Cuvee Caritas, this wine saw barrel fermentation and lees contact in one, two, and three-year-old French oak and stainless steel barrels for 6 months to limit the interplay of oak flavor. However, I am a firm believer that a small amount of oxygen and some lees work can bring forth the natural complexity from such a wonderful site. In order to preserve the wines verve and perfume, ML was inhibited.
2009 Hudson Vineyard T-Block Syrah
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, May/June '11
Bright purple. Displays heady textbook syrah scents of black raspberry, boysenberry, incense and violet, along with subtle notes of black pepper and olive. Lush, spicy and expansive, offering powerful red and dark berry compote flavors and an exotic candied floral quality. Clings impressively on the endless, mineral-laced finish, repeating the raspberry and floral notes. You could scent a room with this stuff. Morgan said that there's 4% viognier in here and that the wine was fermented with one-third whole clusters. 94 points
The Wine Advocate
The 2009 Hudson T-West is a Syrah-dominated beauty exhibiting notes of acacia flowers, blackberries, charcoal, burning embers and meat juices. Full-bodied, unctuously textured and thick, it should provide riveting drinking for 7-10 years. 92-94 points
A supple, graceful and layered wine, with finesse to match its range of flavors and balance. Exhibits roasted herb, dried berry, espresso, coriander seed and sage notes, with a complex finish. Drink now through 2018. 172 cases made. 92 points
2009 Hudson Syrah
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, May/June '11
Opaque ruby. Powerfully aromatic bouquet of blackberry, blueberry, smoked meat, incense and potpourri, along with a hint of vanilla. Lush and creamy, offering sweet black and blue fruit compote and cherry-vanilla flavors and a musky herbal quality that gains strength with air. Quite rich but surprisingly lively, finishing with excellent grip and thrust. This exotic, seductive wine is delicious right now; it was raised in 100% new oak but I don't sense it. 93 points
2009 Griffin's Lair Syrah
Though bottled back in the Spring I have been reticent to release this wine too soon as it is very tightly coiled and not as aromatically expressive as the other 2009 wines. Though only 13.9% finished alcohol the wine has remarkable density and depth, testament to the excellent farming of Joan and Jim Griffin. The wine is composed of three clones of Syrah, two of which saw 50% whole-cluster while the Noir was entirely destemmed. Following fermentation with native yeast the wine was put down to 1-year-old, 600 liter demi-muids, and a couple new barrels from Ermitage and Rousseau. Though I think this wine is eventually going to come out of its shell it is certainly the most “2009” of all the 2009’s in that it is pulled-back, somewhat austere in its youth, and is going to demand cellar time to come into itself. For those who like to pop corks early wait for the 2010 Syrahs.
2009 Dolinsek Heirloom Wine
Russian River Valley
2009 was the first year I had the opportunity to work with the amazing, 99-year-old vines farmed by Jim and Kathleen Dolinsek. The vineyard, planted by Angelo Frati in 1910, is a California jewel. The dry-farmed vines (a field blend of Zinfandel, Alicante, Petite Sirah, Teredelgo, Chasselas, and others), growing on a north-facing hillside of Sandy Goldridge Loam, yield up tiny amounts of concentrated fruit. How tiny? In 2009 we are talking .4 ton per acre! The fruit is an amazing display of mulberries, blue fruits, and spice, and despite the wine’s low, 3.4 pH, it is downright decadent. Though I am reticent to name a wine with such high alcohol (16%) as my favorite of the vintage it is certainly my favorite to taste out of barrel right now. If I had my way, this wine would be completely consumed in the next four years for its gorgeous primary fruit before the alcohol starts to show too much. 7 barrels made.
2009 Cuvee Caritas White Wine
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, May/June '11
(a 55/45 blend of semillon and sauvignon blanc): Bright yellow-gold. High-pitched aromas of grapefruit rind, green apple and white flowers, with musky lees and smoky nuances adding complexity. Concentrated and tactile, with very good cut to its intense citrus and floral flavors. Has a firm backbone and closes with very good, chewy persistence. 90 points
The Wine Advocate
The 2009 Cuvee Caritas Proprietary White is a blend dominated by Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Interestingly, the Semillon comes from the famed Monte Rosso Vineyard and is put through malolactic fermentation. The Sauvignon Blanc had its malo blocked. It offers up wonderful honeyed melon, orange rind, tropical fruit and lanolin notes. The oak is hiding in the background, and the wine possesses good acidity, beautiful purity and zesty acids that provide a laser-like precision. Drink this beauty over the next few years although I suspect it may last a decade or more. 92 points
Pear, yellow apple and yellow raisin flavors are rich, with toasty, smoky details filling in on the full body. Appealing for its aromatic nose and smooth texture, with just enough acidity to keep this fresh. Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Drink now. 200 cases made. 90 points
2009 Compagni Portis Heirloom White
This is an utterly singular vineyard. When you look at the basics: 60 years old, organic, dry-farmed, yields of less than 1 ton per acre, you just start to drool. That the vineyard lies on some of the original property as Harazthy’s old Buena Vista property, and is planted to one of the most singular field blends of white varietals, makes it totally fascinating. Though the exact percentages are still a mystery to me, the vineyard is planted to Gewurtz, Riesling, Trousseau Gris, Berger, Green Hungarian, and probably a few other things. I vinified it in a manner to best express the purity of place: whole-cluster pressing, native yeast fermentation to complete dryness in neutral and stainless barrels, minimal lees stirring, and zero ML. As one would expect with these varietals the wine is highly perfumed and spicy, but it is the density and mid-palate weight that I also love here. This is a real taste of California history, from the last vineyard of its kind in Napa or Sonoma counties.
2009 Bedrock Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
I only made four barrels of this wine in 2009 and really wish I had made more. The wine is 92% Cabernet with 8% co-fermented Petit Verdot. The fruit, which I select from my favorite couple of blocks at the time of harvest, was destemmed and fermented with native yeasts in a small open-top redwood tank. After manual basket pressing the wine was then put down to four new barrels from Taransaud and Darnajou (M and M+ toast) and rested on primary less for 28 months prior to bottling this last November. I love Bedrock as a site because of its perfume-laden fruit and this is no exception. The aromatics are soaring and fresh (I picked at 24 brix) and the wine has plenty of structure. I fully expect this to go twenty years and gain complexity over that time. Four barrels made.
2009 Bedrock Heirloom Wine
Like the Rebecca’s, the 2009 Heirloom is a more poised and elegant expression of the red soils found at my family’s Bedrock Vineyard. Though perhaps not as brooding as the 2008, I find the aromatics of black fruits, pungent orange oil, and exotic spices quite compelling. On the palate the wine is dense and vibrant and surprisingly open given the normally tannic structure imbued into Zinfandel based wines from Bedrock. As always, the wine is a blend of the 26 varieties interplanted from the 121-year-old vines at the ranch. This year’s blend is approximately 50% Zinfandel, 30% Carignane, with the balance being the other 24 or so varieties. 10 barrels and one puncheon made. 60% new, tight-grain, French oak from Ermitage, Rousseau, and Cadus.
2008 Sonoma County Syrah
I have two big reasons for making this wine but they both stem from the same basic fact: things have never been worse in the sales realm for Syrah. The reasons for it are long and much-debated, and I certainly have my own opinions, but that does not really matter here. What matters is that I was probably overly optimistic in purchasing Syrah fruit in 2008, and now I have a lot of great wine that I do not think I can sell for $30-$40 dollars a bottle. I mean, great juice from great sites, but it is hard to sell Syrah when retailers and sommeliers alike will not even taste the stuff because they do not think they can sell it. So, instead of putting a bunch of vineyard designated Syrah out on the market that will be a pain to sell (and then be discounted to $18 a bottle), I have decided to make an absolutely killer bottle of $18 Syrah to start with. I also feel that some of the Syrah malaise is due to the very few quality, under $20 Syrahs out there.
So, what’s in the bottle? The backbone of the wine comes from Bald Mountain Vineyard. Located at 2000 feet on Sonoma side of Mount Veeder, the vines are dry-farmed and yield puny amounts of super-concentrated fruit. To this I added a puncheon of highly perfumed juice from Lauterbach Hill Vineyard in the Russian River Valley, a couple barrels of Glenlyon Vineyard on the backside of Sonoma Mountain, a barrel each of clone 877 from Kick Ranch and Old Lakeville Vineyards, along with a splash from Wildcat Mountain Vineyard. All the lots were fermented with whole-clusters (25-80%), native yeasts, and were manually punched-down and basket pressed. The final wine saw about 20% new French oak, but the exact amount is hard to calculate (what does a puncheon count as?). The final wine is elegant, food-friendly, spicy, and perfumed. It is the St. Joseph of the Bedrock line-up: delicious, nutritious, and affordable!
2008 Old Lakeville Syrah
This is an admirable follow-up to the 2007, but perhaps even a bit more Rhone-ish in style. This cool site, which lies across the street from Griffin’s Lair Vineyard (the 2009’s of which are tasting unbelievable) in the coolest part of the Petaluma Gap, withstood the blast of August heat admirably. In fact, the vineyard was harvested on the exact same date as in 2007. The 877 and Noir clones were fermented with 50% whole clusters, while the Estrella was completely destemmed. The elegant (about a percent less alcohol than the 2007) wine was pressed directly to barrel where it stayed in 50% new French oak, on gross lees, for 18 months prior to bottling. Though I know everyone swooned over the ‘07, I like this wines elegance and poise a bit more, and particularly its receptiveness to food.
2008 Ode to Lulu Rosé
Most rosé created in our state is a derivative of red winemaking, utilizing a technique called saignée—some juice is bled from the fermenter after a night or so, yielding a rosé wine. This has many drawbacks, though, the biggest being that grapes picked for red wine are typically much richer in sugar and have flavors best saved for red wine. In making Ode to Lulu I looked to the land of the greatest rosé made in the world: Bandol. There, Mourvedre grapes are picked at lower potential alcohol specifically for the purpose of making a wine gently tinctured by the red skins. Being blessed with a small amount of 120-year-old Mourvedre at Bedrock, it seemed insane not to give it a try.
As such, the grapes were picked at lower sugar levels where the brightness of acidity and crackly freshness still remained. We crushed the grapes directly into the press where we let the juice steep for a bit to extract a faint bit of color. We then pressed and fermented the wine quite cold on lees in stainless steel to preserve its delicate aromas. After a few months the wine was bottled.
The result is a rosé very different from most others encountered from the New World. Herbal, snappy, and delicate, the wine has considerable elegance and complexity. In an homage to my favorite rosé in the world I have named the wine Ode to Lulu in honor of the Lulu Peyraud, the owner of Domaine Tempier in Bandol.
2008 Lorenzo's Heirloom Wine
Dry Creek Valley
The 2008 Lorenzo’s Heirloom Wine comes from a hundred-plus year old vineyard located in a privileged position on the Dry Creek Bench. The varietal percentage in the Lorenzo’s Heirloom Wine has stayed the same (roughly 50% Zinfandel, 25% Carignane, and 25% Petite Sirah, with trace amounts of Alicante Bouschet, Valdigue, and Cinsault). As with 2007, all the varietals were cofermented using native yeasts. After fermentation to dryness the wines were barreled down to 40% new French Oak barrels for eleven months, and racked only once prior to bottling. The final wine is textbook Dry Creek - full of brooding black fruits, irony mineral elements, and broad, sweeping but soft, tannins. Perhaps a bit more elegant than the somewhat outsized 2007, I think this is a more complete wine and will reward patience (though I have certainly enjoyed a couple bottles recently!).
2008 Lauterbach Syrah
Russian River Valley
As many of you already know, the 2008 Lauterbach Hill saw 40 months in a once-used French puncheon. The site, located behind Martinelli Winery in the Russian River Valley, is known for both perfume and structure and I wanted to see what would happen if those two things were allowed to marry for a long time. The resulting wine is utterly unique. It is closer to the color of Pinot Noir but is imbued with exotic florals and spice. This is absolutely not a blockbuster nor typical of most of my other wines but will surely generate discussion! 40 cases made.
2008 Kick Ranch Syrah
As those who know me would attest, I am a perfume maven when it comes to all wine, and particularly Syrah. Syrah should, at its best, bridge the gap between its inherent power and grace. It should be a dancing Machiavellian; a genuflecting Napoleon. It should be Hulk Hogan dressed in leopard-print bra and matching panties. Actually, that is just scary and I take it back. You get my point though: Syrah should ebulliate aromatics. To this end, winemakers have a couple potent tools. One is the use of whole clusters, and the other is the use of Viognier. The Old Lakeville, due to its very cold site, is a perfect candidate for the former and the inclusion of whole clusters amps up the exotic spice notes and pop. At the warmer Kick Ranch, I prefer Viognier to be the top note; its floral bump ratcheting skyward the bestial primacy of the Syrah. For the 2008 I cofermented 6% Viognier with clones 383, 470, and 877 from the rocky hillsides of the rancho. The resulting wine is the biggest of the offering in all things: in fruit, aromatics, ripeness, and alcohol. It is a hedonistic boom-BAH of a wine, and is going to provide a lot of drinking pleasure.
2008 Hudson Vineyard Whole Cluster Syrah
The first of a series of three wines showing the interplay between a great terroir and winemaking technique. Fruit from the famous Hudson Vineyard was fermented using 80% whole clusters. The wine was then pressed straight to a neutral 600 Liter Demi-Muid made from French oak where it remained for 20 months. This wine was inspired by the old-school efforts of Clape, Allemand, and Verset.
2008 Hudson Vineyard Syrah 'Pleine de Chene'
The third in a series of three wines showing the interplay between a great terroir and winemaking techniques. This wine was fermented in new puncheons and barrels. Following completion of fermentation, the wine was barreled down to 100% new French oak from particularly high-impact coopers. This is, by far, the most “new world” of the three wines, inspired by new-wave wines of Australia and the Rhone. More oak, more alcohol, more fruit, more everything!
2008 Hudson Vineyard Cofermented Syrah
The second in a series of three wines showing the interplay between a great terroir and winemaking technique. This wine was co-fermented with 5% Viognier and then aged on lees in 100% new oak from particularly finessed and tight-grained barrels for 20 months. Made like new-wave Cote-Rotie, this wine is inspired by the brilliant efforts of Gaillard, Gerin, and the La-La.
2008 Cuvee Caritas White
This is the white wine I make to stand on par with the best barrel-fermented wines made in the state. It just happens to have not been made from Chardonnay; rather, it is made from things richer and rarer.
The first is a small parcel of 110-year-old vine Semillon that clings to the red soils of Monte Rosso vineyard 1800 feet above Sonoma Valley. That this small parcel of vines has not been ripped out is amazing; that Bedrock Wine Co. is the recipient of the fruit is even crazier. Crazy, I say. In 2008 the vines yielded a shy crop of richly flavored fruit.
The second element of the wine comes from Musque clone Sauvignon Blanc grown at Kick Ranch. The hillside, made more of stone than soil, limits the natural vigor of Sauvignon Blanc—yielding a wine of uncanny richness and perfume.
The muse for this wine are the great white wines of Graves in Bordeaux. There, barrel-aged wines from Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc attain heights of complexity, depth, density, and richness that place them on par with the greatest white wines of the world. As such, this wine was barrel fermented in 40% new French oak coopered by the former cooper for Smith Haut Lafitte.
However, this is NOT like Chardonnay. The Sauvignon Musque was not allowed to go through malo to retain its brightness and perfume, while the Semillon was in order to give breadth and depth to the wine. The wine also saw only 6 months in barrel to restrain the oak flavor.
2008 Bedrock Red Wine #2
One would think that after letting this wine stay in barrel for thirty months that I could have come up with a better name than Red #2 - certainly a failure of imagination on my part. Happily, I think the wine itself is anything but. After a heat-wave at the end of August and beginning of September in 2008 was I concerned about relying too heavily on the Bedrock Cabernet, which seemed to possess some jutting tannins. Since I strongly believe in picking Cabernet at sane sugar levels, and feel that some greenness is part of the varieties natural character, I was not about to hang the fruit to 28 brix to find those "melted" tannins so loved by many Napa counterparts. Rather, I decided to beef up the amount of Merlot and Petit Verdot in the final wine. The 9% Petit Verdot was cofermented with the Cabernet, while the Merlot was vinified on its own. The wine aged in 100% new French oak from Darnajou, Boutes, Bordelaise, and Seguin Moreau for thirty months and was only racked at bottling. Though still possessing plenty of structure I am pleasantly surprised by this wine - it is remarkably close to the old-school claret-style blend I was hoping for. Six barrels made.
2008 Bedrock Heirloom Wine
The 2008 Bedrock Heirloom Wine comes from the 120-year-old vines at my vineyard in Sonoma Valley. It is composed of 18 different interplanted, field-blended varietals of which Zinfandel and Carignan dominant (Roughly 40% Zinfandel, 30% Carignane, and the last 40% the mixed blacks). It represents the absolutely unique blend of varietals found in the oldest vineyards in the state (of which Bedrock is one of the oldest). The wine was fermented using native yeasts in open-top redwood vats where it was manually punched-down. Following fermentation the wine was manually basket-pressed into 100% French oak barrels, of which 35% were new from the finest cooperages of Rousseau, Cadus, and Boutes. The Zinfandel element was aged in a once used, 500-liter puncheon. It was not racked until bottling after 12 months in barrel.
The 2008 is a bright effort, with plenty of high-tone spice and exuberant red-fruits. It probably needs a little more time than the Lorenzo’s to calm down (as is typical with old-vines from Sonoma Valley). Again, you will find more structure and depth in this wine as it is made to age.
2007 Rebecca's Vineyard Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, May/Jun 09
($45) Light, hazy red. Strikingly complex scents of strawberry, blood orange, rose and incense. Light-bodied, very precise red fruit flavors are accented by an exotic five-spice quality. Finishes with zesty mineral grip and cut, repeating the blood orange note. I really like this wine's incisive character. 92 points
2007 Old Lakeville Syrah
The Wine Advocate
The 2007 Syrah Old Lakeville (99% Syrah and 1% Viognier) is a layered, dense, rich, solidly made effort. Although it does not possess the complexity of the Kick Ranch, it is an attractive Syrah to consume over the next 4-5 years. 91+
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, May/Jun 09
($35) Glass-staining ruby. A sexy, room-filling bouquet of black raspberry, boysenberry, potpourri and incense. Broad, palate-staining dark fruit flavors are impressively deep and pure, picking up violet and rose pastille character with air. A tangy graphite note builds on the finish and adds energy to the deep, seductively sweet fruit. More approachable than the Kick Ranch syrah, and much more flamboyant. (JR) 93 points
2007 Lorenzo's Heirloom Wine
The Wine Advocate
The 2007 Lorenzo’s Heirloom (50% Zinfandel, 25% Petite Sirah, 22% Carignan, and few other grapes) comes from 107-year old Dry Creek Valley vines. Its dense ruby/purple hue is followed by notes of black raspberries, cherries, spice box, pepper, charcuterie, and earth. Full-bodied, dense, and supple-textured, it is a terrific, hedonistic red to enjoy over the next 3-4 years. 92 points.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, May/Jun 09
($40) Deep ruby. Highly perfumed, sexy aromas of dark berry and cherry preserves, licorice, smoky Indian spices and incense. Fleshy, gently sweet blackberry and mulberry flavors coat the palate, complicated by candied rose and violet qualities. The licorice and mulberry notes return on the expansive, sweet finish, which is strikingly focused and extremely persistent. You could drink this now for its sexy fruit, but I'd hold off on it for another few years, at least. This was made from a co-fermentation of zinfandel, carignane and petite sirah, all from vines that are over a century old. 93 points
2007 Kick Ranch Syrah
The Wine Advocate
The two single vineyard Syrahs include the inky/purple-tinged 2007 Syrah Kick Ranch. Spring flower, lychee nut, honeysuckle (5% Viognier was included in the blend), black currant, and blackberry characteristics, a thick, juicy texture, and beautiful succulence, purity, and length are found in this impressive, but limited production Syrah. It should drink well for 8-10 years. 92+
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, May/Jun 09
($35) Inky ruby. Pungent dark berries, cherry skin and Indian spices on the nose, with a strong undercurrent of smoke and minerals. Youthfully taut blackberry and cherry flavors flesh out with air and gain a sexy candied floral quality. Manages to be structured without coming across as hard, finishing with alluring sweetness and lingering floral notes. 92 points
2007 Glenlyon Syrah
Glenlyon Vineyard drapes over the shoulder of Sonoma Mountain on soils of ashy, rocky, loam. One of the earliest vineyards planted to Syrah in the valley, it is ably tended by the colorful Squire and Suzy Fridell.
How colorful you may ask?
He was the original Ronald McDonald.
In 2007 I fermented one ton of fruit, adding 1% Viognier and 25% whole clusters into the brew for some additional spice and aromatic lift. Following fermentation with natural yeasts, I barreled the wine down to two barrels—one new Meyrieux barrel and one neutral barrel. Now typically I love the inflection of Meyrieux in my Syrah—it is a smoky, bacon-fat barrel that matches nicely with the savory flavors of the grape. For some reason, though, it was different this time. After 14 months I decided that the neutral barrel was far more “Syrah” to me—spicy, smoky, with a taut center of tactile dark fruit. As such, I only bottled the one barrel for a whopping total of 19 cases.
To me, this is an honest, perfumed version of Syrah—the closest to the Pinot realm of the spectrum. Though lacking the sheer mass of the other vineyards, this is a supple, food-friendly Syrah—my St. Joseph of the year. While the Old Lakeville and Kick Ranch will be held back a few months for release and even then will need some time to soften their considerable girth, this is forward and ready to go in the near term. It is going to be an admirable pair with spring lamb!
2007 Bedrock Heirloom Wine
The Wine Advocate
The 2007 Heirloom Proprietary Red is a blend of 50% Zinfandel and the rest equal parts Carignan, Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Barbera from a vineyard planted in 1888. An outstanding effort, it reveals abundant amounts of peppery, berry fruit intertwined with hints of incense, roasted herbs, and forest floor in a round, full-bodied, fleshy personality. 90 Points.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, May/Jun 09
($40; 50% zinfandel, 25% carignane and the rest "other stuff") Bright red. Pungent aromas of red berries, Asian spices, smoky herbs and flowers. Sweet raspberry and cherry flavors stain the palate, picking up an exotic candied rose quality with air. The long, focused finish leaves sappy, sweet red fruit notes behind. This reminded me a lot of a southern Rhone wine, and Peterson commented that "zinfandel and grenache have a lot in common, both good and bad." 92 points
2007 Bedrock Cabernet Sauvignon
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, May/Jun 10
($40) Opaque ruby. Complex, pungent scents of dried cherry, botanical herbs, licorice and Indian spices, with a touch of singed plum. Rich, palate-coating dark fruit flavors show a touch of meatiness and pick up dusty tannins with air. Pretty wild stuff and not for everyone; the finish repeats the musky herbal quality and clings with good sweetness and an echo of bitter cherry skin. This is almost too feral for me so I can only imagine how the average wine drinker will react to it. 88? points