TN: 2010 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Old Vine

  • 2010 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Old Vine - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley (12/10/2011)
    my first bedrock. Which, accidentally was opened three evening ago and then vac sealed because I forgot I wouldn’t be able to drink it until today. So this note should take that exposure to air into account. I thought I would go for the old vine zin to get a read on bedrock. The nose is pure zin, sweet brambly fruit, some lurking spices, more sweet exotic spices than black pepper spicy. A nice purple color as well - not too dark and some lightness on edges. The taste is lush, but not over-ripe. It is full, but balanced. not much in tannins/drying on finish, instead a lovely exotic spicy taste lingers on the palate for a long time along with that brambly fruit - I want to say stewed, but it isn’t that, somewhere in between fresh blackberries and cooked blackberries - maybe just very ripe fresh blackberry. I like the qpr here and am happy with my first experience. Put simply, the wine is delicious in a un-complicated way - and I don’t mean that in a negative way - I just mean that it is a pleasure to drink and the characteristics that stand-out are clearly delineated and enjoyable.

Posted from CellarTracker


Thanks for the note. I have been hearing for years from Joel Peterson that Morgan was a much better winemaker than he was. Time will tell, but your note indicates some of the skill that Joel was speaking of. A zin that smells like zin, tastes like zin, is ripe but balanced. That in itself has become rare, as people have been driven to push the envelope.

I think sometimes it’s more difficult to write notes that convey the true pleasure of a very good, straightforward wine like this one, vs. a more complex and more heralded cuvee. I had one of these last month - which was, incidentally, my first Bedrock too - and it was a real treat, as I’ve grown tired of much of what passes for Zinfandel these days. I wish I had a case of this stuff.

Alex- Nice read…I fondled one of them tonite as I was making the call for BBQ Chicken (grilled outside here in LA with Mr. Stubbs…60 degrees at 6PM neener ). Opted to put it back in favor of a lighter PN (wimp that I am), but this report from the trenches is good to read as I have a bunch I have yet to touch.

OK, Andrew…since you are in the Springs and I went to school 22 miles south of you (and spent mucho dinero at D’ Andrea’s over four years, thus picking up the moniker Skidmore Stu), I can ask directly…what in your mind passes for Zin these days? My view is that Carlisle is the benchmark for the heavier style, things like Dover Canyon in Paso as a lighter version.

I’m all up for additional strong recco’s of the lighter, “claret” style (Nalle comes to mind, for sure, and that green-labelled one up in Dry Creek I can’t name at the moment… [cheers.gif] ).

Thanks for posting the review. You put into words almost precisely what I was thinking after our last bottle of this fantastic wine.

I avoid heavy, “jammy” zin like the plague at this point. For me, Scherrer and Ridge are my big go-to producers in a more moderate style. I’ll now add Bedrock to the list. I’ve only had a glass, but based on the experience would say Joseph Swan might belong there, too. Haven’t had a Nalle, so I can’t comment on them. I have the new zin from Dehlinger and am hoping that’s in the same style…we’ll see!

You might have more suggestions for me than vice versa, Stu. Anyone else you’d add?

Andrew, try this for an understated, great zin at a solid price. no jamminess:

First off, it is wonderfully gratifying that people are responding to the 10 Sonoma Valley Old-Vine so well. It, along with the Monte Rosso, might be the wine that I am most proud of from the tough 2010 vintage. We got hit by a serious blast of heat on the 23rd and 24th of August that completely eradicated some vineyard’s crops and seriously reduced others and it made assembling the wine difficult. In the end I made the painful decision to completely declassify Stellwagen Vineyard into the wine as it gave nice center to the perfume and spice elements from Pagani, Monte Rosso, Bedrock Mourvedre, Scatena, and the younger vines from Los Chamizal Vineyard. I nearly had a heart attack at bottling as the 600 cases is, by far, the largest production wine I have ever made, and seeing the small city of pallets was thrombotically disconcerting. I am happy with the wine though-- what I love most about Sonoma Valley is that the wines are more claret-like by nature. They are not necessarily shy on tannin and spice and, if not picked too late (a plague in the realm of modern Zin making in my opinion), can lend themselves to prettiness and ageworthiness-- two descriptors not assigned to Zinfandel enough these days.

But enough about that- I mainly wanted to toss out a few other names of people whose Zinfandels I love.

First. Will Bucklin, at Bucklin Winery, does not get nearly enough love. Not only does he farm and operate Old Hill Ranch (and yes I am filially biased, but I think it is the greatest Zinfandel vineyard in the world), he has, via his impeccable organic farming and thoughtfulness when it comes to all plant matter, made the quality at Old Hill greater than it has ever been. He reaps the reward of his own excellent with his label “Bucklin.” The Bambino, a Zinfandel based field-blend, is a steal at $20. The 55 cases or so he makes in certain years of the 120+ year old Grenache from Old Hill is out of this world. The $34 Old Hill Ranch Old-Vines is structured, ageworthy, stuff and is a lovely counterpoint to the Ravenswood wines from the ranch (Bucklin and Ravenswood alternate rows when picking). The current 2008 is gorgeous and forthcoming 2009 might be even better. Yes, I am happy to count Will as a friend, but he is one of those friends where you go “why are these not wines immediately sold out!?” everytime you taste them. Plus, he is just a lovely human being which helps.

Second. I think the appellation Dry Creek Zinfandels from Dashe and Quivira are about as good as it gets for the money (unless you are on Carlisle’s list and cannot get the Sonoma County Zinfandel). They have lovely fruit, spice, are thoughtfully oaked, and sum up the character of the appellation. Also, though they are a step up in volume and the label needs some serious work, the Pezzi King Dry Creek Old-Vine is worth seeking out.

Third. Eric Sussman at Radio Coteau is back at Von Weidlich Vineyard. The 2007 he made, along with the 2007 Carlisle Montafi Ranch, are the two greatest Zinfandels I have tasted in the last ten years. The vineyard is just outside of Occidental (aka, way the fuck out on the coast), planted in 1937, and is an absolute jewel if you like perfumed, high-toned, low-pH, Zinfandel (it was the 1974 from this vineyard labeled as Ridge Occidental that was a legend in its time).

Fourth. Bump Wines is a new label from Geordie Carr. Though his SB and Syrah are nice, the jewel- both historically and qualitatively-- is his HB Family Zinfandel. The vineyard has the unique distinction of being the only old-vine, mixed-black, Zinfandel vineyard still existing on what was previously the ground of Harazthy’s Buena Vista-- one of the great vine importers and one of the first to popularize Zinfandel in the state. It also is a cool region for Zin (actually less than 1/2 mile from my Compagni Portis Mixed White Vineyard) and as such the wine is remarkably high-tone and pretty. For those of you who like Ridge Wines (and thus do not mind the 20% American oak as much as I do) this is a really great wine to pick up. At $24 a bottle this is well worth it.

There are several others (some like Scherrer, Nalle, and Ridge have already been mentioned), but these are the ones that jump to mind.

OK, Andrew…So I sent one of my peeps over to set you straight. I trust you took notes (I did!)… [cheers.gif]

Ain’t it nice when a winemaker you admire gives a list of wines he enjoys (with explanations, no less)? Thanks, Morgan.


Count me in as a Ridge junkie! Funny, but I had craving for Zin last night and had pulled out the 09 Lytton, your 09 Stellwegen and your dad’s Teldesche (which I have never tried), and ended up going with the Lytton just because my mixed case of 09 Ridge had just come in and I was dying to try the LS. Intend to pop the other two over the holidays.

So curious, what’s your thought on the American oak? I love it in Ridge, but cannot say I love it in riojas.

Cheers, and thanks for the list of other “under the radar” producers.

Thanks for weighing in Morgan.
Good to hear about the Radio-Coteau - Von Weidlich. As I recall, the 07 was the last vintage for Radio-Coteau for its Zinfandel. That was a delicious wine - packed and concentrated without being over the top or jammy.
The problem is cost - something about Zinfandel topping the $40 mark; it is tough threshold to cross.
$22.50 sounds better.

What a great and generous post Morgan. Thanks for the info on those wineries. I’ll keep them in mind when I need to supplement Bedrock, Ridge and Carlisle - with the zins from those 3 wineries I think I have plenty, but as a wine junkie, I always seem to be adding wine and looking to try others.

I agree about the Zins breaking the $40 barrier and one of the appeals of zin (at least for me) is finding delicious ones under $30 let alone closer to $20.

And lastly, the wine berserker community is a great source for finding wines that are passion projects. Having been on the site for less than a year, I have been turned on to several wineries that I just wouldn’t hear about on the East Coast. Bedrock was one among a few I decided to join up and haven’t been disappointed by one bottle yet from these wineries, which includes Cabot, Rivers Marie, Samsara and Clos Saron.

This kind of perception is a real problem for Zin, especially if you like the wine produced from old vines. These century-old vineyards often produce less than 1-2 tons per acre on land that could be replanted to a “luxury” variety like Pinot or Cab, young vines producing 6-10 tons/acre fetching north of $40 per bottle. Because of this, most of the great old vineyards are long gone.

This raises the question, do you like Zin, or do you only like Zin for $22.50? There’s plenty of plonk out there that might lower the perception of the variety, but considering the best-of-the-best can be had for between $30-$45, I’d still consider old-vine, single vineyard Zin, one of the great bargains in fine wine.

Larry raises a great point. I just spent $100 per for old vine S. Rhone (Janasse Chaupin - 100% Grenache, 60-80 year old vines). If this CdP gives me half the pleasure of a dozen or more old vine Zins and California field blends I could name, I’ll consider it a sound purchase.

Mike -

I get your drift! I’ve got lots of Chaupin and VV in my storage, but as I sit here on night 2 of an 09 Lytton Springs, I just say “dang”!

Tough to beat old vine Zin for value plays.

This kind of perception is a real problem for Zin, especially if you like the wine produced from old vines. These century-old vineyards often produce less than 1-2 tons per acre on land that could be replanted to a “luxury” variety like Pinot or Cab, young vines producing 6-10 tons/acre fetching north of $40 per bottle. Because of this, most of the great old vineyards are long gone.

This raises the question, do you like Zin, or do you only like Zin for $22.50? There’s plenty of plonk out there that might lower the perception of the variety, but considering the best-of-the-best can be had for between $30-$45, I’d still consider old-vine, single vineyard Zin, one of the great bargains in fine wine.[/quote]

Could not have said it better myself. I cannot count the number of times that I have attended a tasting with other winemakers where we taste through a range of expensive Cabernets or Chardonnays and I cannot wait to come home and have my soul satisfied by a good bottle of Zinfandel. For me, the perceived price-ceiling when it comes to Zinfandel is a shame because it means the best and the brightest are too busy earning their paychecks making Cabernet than focusing on the wine that is truly unique and distinct to California.

Also, when it comes to price, I would suggest that the main reason why Carlisle, Turley, myself, and a few others, can offer great wines for the price is because we are blessed to have good direct sales. Speaking for myself, this is why I can afford to use the best barrels (new French oak from Rousseau, Ermitage, Taransaud, etc. run $1100 a barrel or so compared to $350-400 for the more aggressive American Oak), and lavish vineyards with special attention that manifests in high quality (impeccable pruning, cover crops, compost, multiple passes to drop fruit, drop second crop, de-wing, etc) or at least be able to pay people enough for so they are willing to farm to my standards. The reason why Mike Officer’s wines kick so much ass- particuarly Martinelli Road, Papera, Carlisle, Montafi, and Two Acre-- is because he has mastered farming in the difficult Russian River Valley and is willing to absorb the rather terrifying costs that go into each ton or ton-and-a-quarter per acre that results. If we were getting paid FOB (the price to a distributor which is roughly 50% of retail), there is absolutely no way we could afford the fruit that we have the privilege of working with. It is the reason why I could drop all of the 2010 Stellwagen, which cost me well over $3k a ton in farming costs into the Old-Vine and sell it for $22.50 to you guys.

I was extremely lucky coming from a background where I had the support of my father-- someone who understands what it takes to make truly wonderful Zinfandel. However, excellent old-vine Zinfandel is a scarce commodity because only in a few cases do the wines make enough for the winery to rationalize making them great.

This thread, while now somewhat off topic, might be the thread of the year for me so far. I will go ahead and nominate this one for a berserker award. In all seriousness, i too in my mind have that price ceiling bugaboo, but then when I get my hands on one of these really good zins, I get down on myself for thinking that way. While I drink many of the Zins above mentioned at home, zinfandel has become one of my go to restaurant wines in part because most restaurant lists ("im not talking about wine geek lists) have young vintages represented and Zinfandel, for me, typically shows itself well young. The other reason is because apart from people on boards like these, the general public is not Zin savvy meaning the markups are generally less and you can get a really good deal.