Spring in the hills just north of Dry Creek Valley was warm and dry—ideal conditions, which led to a good crop. The well-established root systems and broad leaf-canopy of these old head-pruned carignane vines matured the grapes evenly, eliminating potential danger from water stress or sunburn. Picking began in late September; during the natural-yeast fermentation, deep color and balanced structure developed quickly, and we pressed at ten days. After a natural (uninoculated) malolactic, the wine was racked to two- and three-year-old air-dried american oak for a year of barrel aging. This lovely, full-flavored carignane is highly quaffable, and will be at its best over the next three to five years. PD (11/03)
Stan Buchignani’s ranch is located on Dutcher Creek Road, in the hills on the far western edge of the Alexander Valley appellation. The majority of the vineyard’s carignane was planted in the 1940s. Stan’s grandfather, Dominico Cerruti, planted the first block in 1927; his father, Dino, planted the last in the early 1950s. The vineyard’s climate bears a strong resemblance to that of upper Dry Creek Valley three miles to the south, where days are warmer. Fog, which tends to hang low in the valley, burns off sooner in the hills. Carignanes from Buchignani are complex, their fine structure much like that of a field-blend zinfandel.
Rainfall: Approximately 40 inches
Bloom: Early May
Weather: Warm days; cool, breezy nights.
Harvest Dates: 28 September – 15 October
Grapes: Average brix 24.4°, average pH at crush 3.36.
Fermentation: No inoculation—natural primary and secondary. Ten days of pump-over.
Aging: Air-dried american oak barrels (half two and three years old, half four to six years old).
Time in Barrel: Twelve months
Average Rating: 88.9
No. of Tasting Notes: 14
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