Our 2013 Wines
2013 The Bedrock Heritage
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 Oakville Farmhouse Heritage Wine
Planted 1930’s:, 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 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 Ode to Lulu Ancient Vine Rosé
In our quest to continually one-up the previous vintage of this wine we stumbled headlong into the rugged terrain of Mendocino. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the 2012, where I feel we finally captured a trace of ethereal lightness and perfume while maintaining the sturdy stock of Mourvedre at the wines base. However, I wonder if perhaps the 2012 was just a trace too delicate. We used more Carignane from the sandy, soft soils of Contra Costa County for that wine so my theory was that we needed to find soils with a bit more edge in them. Though the base of 2013 wine is composed around the ancient plantings of Mourvedre at Bedrock Vineyard and Pagani Ranch, the rest of the blend is composed of dry-farmed Grenache planted in the 1880’s at Gibson Ranch in McDowell Valley and Carignane from the 1950’s planted on soils that remind me of Pauillac in Ukiah. As always, all the lots were picked early and all except the Grenache Gris were whole-cluster pressed. This, I think, though I am sure I will continue to refine, is the best Ode to Lulu to date. Fresh, perfumed, lifted, bright, clean, dense, and delicious. 12.6%.
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 vintageâ€”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 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 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 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. 14.1%
2013 Gibson Ranch Grenache
McDowell Valley, Mendocino CA
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. 13.8%
2013 Compagni Portis Heritage White Wine
Planted 1954. It was a unique year for this already singular vineyard. Planted in 1954 to a field-blend of Gewurtzraminer, 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 Gewurtzraminer 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 Abrente Godello
Godello?! What is Godello? Good question. When Michael (Havens) suggested we plant a little of it I thought he was a bit nuts. Upon tasting a number of lovely examples from the Valdeorras area of Spain where the variety harkens from I was easily convinced. I also had to remind myself that Michael is strangely prescient sometimes—he talked Lee Hudson into planting some of the first cool-climate Syrah in northern California, was the first to make Albarino in the New World, and even made the first Sine Que Non wine. We talked equally addled John Baillie into grafting over some Merlot at his nicely situated Birdland Vineyard at the base of Sonoma Mountain to the variety. Highly textured and aromatic, this is the type of white variety we love. Primary fermentation was done in stainless steel with native yeast, the wine was put down to neutral oak barrels with the majority of its lees and malolactic was prevented to retain the wines spine. The wine is delicious, one of the best of many happy surprises from the great 2013 vintage. Aromatics of grapefruit, blood orange, tarragon and anise and a textured and layered mouthfeel.
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. Rasied 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's Syrah, filled with pepper, smoke and violets this should make for delicious drinking over the next 5-10 years.
2013 Kirschenmann Zinfandel
From the vines that inspired us to buy the vineyard next door, Kirschenmann Vineyard produced a wine of greater density then the pretty 2012. The vines, own-rooted and planted in 1915, yielded just 2.85 tons per acre of lovely fruit in 2013. Planted on Tokay Fine Sandy Loam near the banks of the Mokelumne River in east Lodi, the vineyard is located in one of the cooler sub regions of Lodi which imbues it with a finesse and perfume not normally associated with the appellation. The 2013 is imbued with a bit more broad-shouldered bravado then the slinky 2012 but this wine should still drink as well in its youth as with a few years of age on it. It was fermented with native yeasts and spent 14 months in a combination of smaller barrels, demi muids, and a 600 gallon foudre.
2013 Monte Rosso Zinfandel
Moon Mountain, Sonoma
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 Nervo Ranch Heritage Wine
Geyserville: 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 1960’s. 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 90’s) 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. In Joe’s memory we will be donating $5 per bottle to a couple charities chosen by his family: North Bay Hospice and Vietnam Veterans of America.
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 Vineayrd 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 Pagani Heritage Wine
This venerable and famed vineyard, planted in the 1880’s, 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 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.