TN: Some OldVine Reds...(long/boring)

We tasted tonight (1/9/13) Some New OldVine reds:

  1. WindGap Old-Vine Mourvedre BedrockVnyd/SonomaVlly (1 ConcreteEgg + 1 Barrel/pp cs; 13.2%; #729)
    : Med.color; some roasted/Rhonish/chalky/mineral slight earthy/plummy/Mourv/cherry/pomengranate rather
    interesting/complex nose; very tart earthy/dusty/chalky/mineral some roasted/Rhonish rather plummy/cherry/
    pomengranate somewhat bitter/tannic quite lean/tight flavor; very tart somewhat bitter/tannic rather
    cranerry/cherry/pomengranate slight Rhonish/roasted/smokey finish; a rather austere/lean Mourv w/ some
    Rhonish character that needs more time; not attractive now but should improve (I think). $32.00

  1. Carlisle Mourvedre BedrockVnyd/SonomaVlly (14.8%; Planted in 1888; 130 cs) 2010: Med.dark color; strong
    plummy/Mourv/black cherry classic varietal Mourv some toasty/oak bit dusty/OV lovely nose; softer
    strong plummy/Mourv/black cherry some dusty/OV light toasty/oak bit astringent/hard/tannic flavor; long
    rather tannic/astringent strong plummy/Mourv/black cherry fairly dusty/OV light toasty/oak/butterd
    popcorn finish; needs more age; surprisingly tannic for a Carlisle but should be a good one. $39.60

  1. Carlisle TwoAcres/RRV RW (14.7%; Planted in 1910; Mourvedre/PS/Syrah/Carignane/AlicanteBouschet/Peloursin;
    130 cs) 2010
    : Med.dark color; strong plummy/blackberry/Mourv some dusty/OV bit earthy/Languedoc-like
    quite spicy/perfumed light toasty/oak lovely nose; very strong very plummy/chocolaty/blackberry some
    dusty/OV/truffle bit earthy flavor w/ some tannins; long soft/rich/lush rather dusty/OV quite spicy/
    plummy/blackberry/blueberry light toasty/oak somewhat complex finish w/ some tannins; needs more age;
    seems a bit leaner/tighter than previous young Twackers. $42.50

  1. BedrockWineCo EvangelhoVnydHeritage/ContraCostaCnty RW (15.2%; CenturyOld/OwnRooted; 40% Zin/15%
    Carignane/25% Mourvedre + 10% Mixed Whites) 2011
    : Med.dark color; very strong plummy/blackberry/Zin/
    black cherry/bit licorice some dusty/earthy/OV/mushroomy fairly bright/zippy quite attractive nose; fairly
    tart bright/cherry/plummy/spicy/black cherry some dusty/OV bit ContraCosta/mushroomy flavor w/ modest
    tannins; long slight alcoholic tart quite bright/cherry/plummy/black cherry/almost Pinotish some dusty/OV/
    mushroomy finish w/ light tannins; fairly drinkable now but will benefit from some age; speaks distinctly
    of ContraCosta/mushroomy/earthy but much more bright fruit and acidity than usually get from there;
    quite atypical of most ContraCosta reds. $31.00

  1. BedrockWineCo DolinsekRanchHeritage/RRV RW (14.8%; 101 yr old vines; < 0.5 tons/acre) 2011: Med.dark color;
    strong blackberry/Zin/boysenberry very spicy quite dusty/OV/earthy very perfumey/fragrant/complex nose; fairly
    tart bright/very spicy/blackberry/boysenberry/Zin some dusty/OV rather structured/textured slight licorice/
    pungent very perfumed flavor w/ modest tannins; very long/lingering bright cherry/blackberry/cherry cola/Zin-like
    very spicy/perfumed some dusty/OV finish w/ modest tannins; lots of very spicy/perfumed character and a lovely
    complex OV red that speaks mostly of Zin. $38.00

  1. BedrockWineCo TheBedrockHeritage/SonomaVlly (14.3%; 123 yr old vines; 22 different varieties; 60% Zin +
    Carignane/AlicanteBouschet/PetiteSirah/GrandNoir de Calmette/Syrah/Tempranillo/Trousseay/Mission/Merlot/
    CabSauv + many others) 2011
    : Dark color; strong very spicy/blackberry/boysenberry/Zin/briary/framboise
    fairly dusty/OV slight menthol/eucalyptus rather complex very lovely/very spicy nose; fairly tart big/spicy/
    blackberry/boysenberry/Zin/black cherry cola/briary some dusty/OV bit licorice/pungent rather complex flavor
    w/ ample tannins; very long tart very spicy/blackberry/black cherry cola/Zin/briary/licorice rather dusty/OV
    finish w/ some tannins; lots of spicy/briary character and good complexity; terrific Zin. $37.00

  1. BedrockWineCo Zin OldVine/SonomaVlly (14.8%; StellwagenVnyd + CasaSantinamaria + LosChamizal + RossiRanch +
    MonteRosso vnyds + Carignane/Mourvedre from BedrockVnyd) 2011
    : Med.dark color; rather dusty/OV somewhat
    low-key spicy/blackberry/raspberry quite attractive nose; tart rather dusty/OV bright/raspberry/blackberry/Zin
    quite spicy bit lightweight flavor w/ modest tannins; long bright/spicy/raspberry/blackberry/Zin some dusty/OV
    finish w/ light tannins; a lighter Zin but lots of OV character and lots of pretty bright fruit; almost
    DryCreekVlly in character; a great wine for the $. $23.00

  1. Carlisle Zin OldVines/RRV (15.9%; 50% CarlisleVnyd planted in 1927/50% MontafiRanch planted in 1926 + interplanted/
    mixed varieties; 270 cs) 2010
    : Very dark color; very strong very spicy intense blackberry/boysenberry/Zin light
    toasty/oak some herbal/pungent/ozone/WWII beacon rather dusty/OV very/very spicy complex nose; soft intense
    blackberry/boysenberry/framboise some dusty/OV bit herbal/pungent/rosemary quite complex flavor w/ fair tannins;
    very long/lingering slight alcoholic intense blackberry/boysenberry/framboise slight herbal/rosemary/pungent
    light toasty/oak some complex finish w/ ample tannins; a terrific Zin and a bit unusual for a Carlisle; my easy
    favorite of the Carlisles. $39.60

  1. BedrockWineCo PaganiRanch Heritage/SonomaVlly RW (15.0%; Planted: 1880’s) 2011: Med.dark color; strong blackberry/
    Zin/spicy some dusty/OV bit sauvage/meaty/gamey slight alcoholic rather complex nose; fairly tart rather dusty/OV
    very strong blackberry/Zin/spicy/boysenberry/plummy bit gamey/sauvage very light toasty/oak flavor w/ fair tannins;
    very long very strong blackberry/Zin/boysenberry/spicy slight earthy/gamey some dusty/OV slight alcoholic finish
    w/ fair tannins; needs more age; a beautiful expression of Pagani. $38.00

  1. Carlisle Zin PaganiRanch/SonomaVlly (16.3%; Planted in 1900; + AlicanteBouschet/Carignane/PS; 100 cs; U/U) 2010:
    Very dark/black color; very intense blackberry/boysenberry/Zin some licorice/pungent some toasty/oak slight herbal/
    gamey classic Carlisle Zin nose; rich/lush intense blackberry/boysenberry/Zin/some spicy some licorice/pungent/
    DrPepper bit hot/alcoholic flavor w/ fair tannins; very long/lingering intense blackberry/Zin/boysenberry/spicy
    light toasty/oak slight earthy/licorice/DrPepper/pungent some dusty/OV complex finish w/ fair tannins; needs
    more age; speaks strongly of Carlisle and not so strongly of Pagani; not as spicy as the OldVines; a beautiful
    Carlisle Zin. $44.00

  1. Carlisle Zin BedrockVnyd/SonomaVlly (15.8%; Planted in 1888; 225 cs) 2010: Very dark color; very intense
    blackberry/boysenberry/Zin slight vanilla/oak rather dusty/OV some licorice/pungent/DrPepper slight earthy/
    truffley complex nose; very strong blackberry/Zin/boysenberry/spicy some dusty/OV bit pungent/DrPepper/RCCola
    light toasty/oak complex flavor w/ modest tannins; very long/lingering spicy/blackberry/Zin/boysenberry light
    toasty/oak somewhat dusty/OV slight pungent/DrPepper/licorice finish w/ fair tannins; not quite the sauvage/
    bass notes of the Pagani and a bit more spicy character than Pagani; a terrific Zin in the Carlisle style.

  1. BedrockWineCo CabSauv BedrockVnyd/SonomaVlly (14.5%; 26 mo. in 80% new Fr.oak) 2010: Black color; very strong
    toasty/Fr.oak/charred/smokey/pungent intense blackcurranty/Cab/kirsch slight minty/menthol very fragrant/
    perfumed nose; rather toasty/Fr.oak/charred/pungent intense blackcurranty/Cab slight earthy some minty/menthol
    flavor w/ ample tannins; very long/lingering strong toasty/charred/Fr.oak intense blackcurranty/kirsch/Cab
    slight earthy finish w/ ample tannins; a rather old-timey Cab like they used to make; very structured and made
    for the long haul; seems a bit monolithic compared to the other Bedrocks but should develop into something
    vey interesting; a steal at $40 (are you listening NapaVlly??). $40.00

And the usual stuff from TheBloodyPulpit:

  1. Carlisle: These wines are all from the the '10 vintage. It was a “vintage from hell” and Mike & crew had to
    really bust their a$$ to make these wines (hmmmm…if he would make “natural” wines…then he wouldn’t have
    had to and the wines would have made themselves!!). Early frosts and then some horrendous heat spikes at the
    end of ripening cut yields way down and created a lot of other problems…particularly for Zin. Some vnyds had
    almost no crop…hence the Carlisle & Montafi were blended to a single OldVines Zin. Not an easy crush…for
    a lot of folks.
    (Presumably) because of this tough vintage, these wines were a bit of a departure for the Carlisles. I
    thought they showed more diversity in style and were a bit more expressive of the individual vnyds than before.
    Mike’s Zins generally carry a hefty alcohol (according to the label), but I find they usually carry those
    alcohols well and almost never show any hot/fumey character. On these, the alcohols showed a bit more than
    usual…though none of them were really over-the-top to my palate. And the tannins, which are usually covered
    by the ample fruit Mike is able to get, stuck out a bit more. But, on the balance, another terrific set of
    Zins for Carlisle.

  1. Bedrock: This is, of course, the effort of Morgan Twain-Peterson. Followed him from the very start. He & his
    Dad (Joel Peterson…another guy I followed from…before…the very start…when I met him on a visit to
    JoeSwan’s) bought the BedrockVnyd and started making wines from there. It’s been exciting to watch the growth
    and maturation of the Bedrock effort as he’s taken on other vnyds. The wines do resemble a bit his Dad’s early
    Ravenswood Zins…though w/ less of an oak presence. One of my no-brainer purchases every year.

  1. OldVines: SonomaCnty (and a few others) are blessed with a fair number of old-vines vnyds, mostly Zin but other
    mixed stuff planted as well. Mike/Morgan/Tegan/DaveGates/MikeDildine have all been passionate and ardent
    supporters of the preservation of these old-vine vnyds. They can yield very interesting wines, as this group
    here testifies to. Is it because the vine’s roots go so deep that they are able to tap into the terroir better
    than younger vnyds?? Beats the heck out of me…I haven’t a clue. I find that wines, particularly Zins or
    mixed blacks/blends, have a certain signature that characterizes these very old vnyds. But it not a signature
    that is writ large in big JohnHancock for the King (no…not a snide reference to Monktown) to see. It’s a subtle
    and quiet signature you have to look for. I doubt I could pick it up blind. But these wines mostly all had
    that dusty/earthy/mushrooomy/truffley character that I look for in old-vine reds and it was a bit more obvious
    in this group than I’ve observed in other tastings.

  1. BedrockCab: Back in my formative/youthful days, I tried nearly every Calif Cab that came down the pike. But
    been there/done that and Cabernet is pretty much off my radar anymore. I only buy the Ridges, the ChesterAnvil,
    occasionally the DryCreeks…but that’s pretty much it. RedBordeaux?? Hah, twenty yrs ago was my last purchase.
    So…when the last Bedrock offer came out, I saw Morgan’s first Cabernet (I assume this is a newer planting in
    the Bedrock vnyd). Well…I’l order a token btl just to try it. Whatta doofus I was. I was mightly impressed by
    this Cabernet. It reminded me a lot of some of the monumental Pickberrys that his Dad made at Ravenswood in yrs
    goneby. Pretty terrific Cab it is. I won’t make that mistake again.

  1. Pagani: I have followed PaganiVnyd from the very start (well…not THAT very start…but when it first started
    being a vnyd designate) and have almost always been impressed by the wines that come out of there. Morgan has
    a good article on his WebSite about Pagani written by DavidDarlington:
    Of the Ridge OV wines, the Pagani has consistently been my favorite (though not in 2010…thus far, anyway) over
    the Lytton and Geyserville. They have also made some AlicanteBouchet from Pagani that I really liked…maybe
    the best Alicantes ever made. Pagani is a very special vnyd and I’m delighted that both Mike and Morgan have
    the opportunity to work w/ those grapes.

  1. Carlisle/Bedrock: This is the first time I’ve tasted so many Carlisles beside so many Bedrocks, and from the
    same vnyd source. It was one of the best tastings I’ve held in a number of yrs. Even though the two principals
    are close friends and colleagues, their styles are definitely different. Mike’s Zins seem to be a bit richer/
    riper/lusher than the Bedrock. Though Mike’s Zins are all pretty unique expressions of their respective vnyds;
    they seem to have a stronger impression of Carlisle than the Bedrocks have of Bedrock winemaking. That is,
    the Bedrocks seem to be a bit purer expression of their vnyd sources. That “terroir” thing, I guess. The
    Bedrocks seem a bit more restrained and controlled than the rambunctuous Carlisles. If I’d have to characterize
    them, I’d say Morgan is Brahms to Mike’s Wagner. Probably not an analogy Morgan could relate to. And this is a
    bit of comparing apples to oranges because they’re different vintages.
    At the end of the tasting, I was asked, if I had to choose, would it be Bedrock or Carlisle?? What a
    Hobson’s choice (or probably more a Morton’s fork). Don’t think I can make that decision. They are both
    different and unique expressions of the same thing.
1 Like

Great tasting and great post Tom. I wasn’t bored for a second.

I agree.

What a wonderful set of notes Tom! Just a couple of things that I would add:

  1. 2010 was a dramatically different year than 2011. I have had a number of Mike’s 2010’s, including both the Russian River Old Vine Zinfandel and the Mourvedre from my vineyard, and they, to be honest, are a reflection of a really good winemaker making great wine out of the scraps that mother nature left. It was a tannic year, and getting the fruit and structure to match them was a bit like putting on your wedding dress on your twentieth anniversary (an odd metaphor for which I really have no reference point I admit). I am in awe of how good Mike’s 2010’s are given the difficult vintage- a good reminder to always surround yourself with people that are smarter than you.

  2. Amazingly enough, I actually use more oak than my Dad did back in the day. I think the main difference is that the science of barrel-making has developed dramatically, along with cooper/forest/toast selection so that it is much easier, if you make the effort, to tailor oak to your desires. I want wood to make a contributory effect when it comes to mouthfeel, burnishing of tannins, and aromatic support, and have stumbled upon several coopers that work towards this aesthetic. The main quadrifecta for Zin and Heirloom Wines are Taransaud, Ermitage, Rousseau, and Atelier, with a spattering of Damy, Cadus, Nadalie, Vallaurine, and Gillet, depending on the wine. Pop, who took after Joe Swan, tended to use almost exclusively Nadalie, as that, along with the even higher impact Demptos and Radoux, seemed to dominate that game back in the 80’s and 90’s.

  3. As for your reference regarding Brahms and Wagner, I believe you are parroting the end of the great piece by Gerald Asher on Zinfandel in Vineyard Tales when he compared Ridge, Ravenswood, and Rosenblum. And thank goodness you said Brahms- if you said Verdi I would have quit show biz. I am going for Rachmaninov, piano concerto #2 with a couple of the 2012’s- what a great vintage.

  4. Next time you are up let me know. I just tracked down a few bottles of 1974 Swan Zinfandel, which was my Dad’s first year of making a contribution, and they are still showing remarkably well. Mainly Mike Teldeschi (now Ray) fruit, which is, of course, the backbone of Carlisle’s excellent Dry Creek Zin bottlings.

Great read, Tom, and one of the more interesting posts I’ve read around here in a long time.

In another thread sometime back, someone noted that the very old vines were planted on St. George or other rootstocks that aren’t used much now. And Roy Piper is always saying that the rootstocks used in the last couple of decades to avoid phylloxera require higher sugar levels to get physiological ripeness. I’m not sure I’m convinced of his contention, but perhaps the old rootstocks are a factor.


An amazing thread with the writings and thoughts of Tom Hill, MTP, and friends…

I am awaiting the rewrite of “The 2,000 Year Old Man” by Tom and Col. Huckleberry! :wink: