Despite an early start and favorable spring weather, these old vines set a very small crop. This, in turn, provided full, rich flavors without over-ripeness. We harvested during the last week of August—earliest on record for the vineyard. Within a day and a half of crush, natural fermentations began. Juice was circulated over the skins twice daily to bring out full color, and the structure to balance the intense fruit. The well-tempered american oak barrels used in aging allowed fruit, not oak, to dominate. This delicious carignane is a “bistro,” or “quaffing” wine. Extremely enjoyable now, it will be at its best over the next four or five years.
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 warm. Fog, which tends to hang low in the valley, burns off sooner in the hills. Carignane from Buchignani is complex, its fine structure much like that of a field-blend zinfandel.
Rainfall: Less than 40 inches
Bloom: May (early)
Weather: A dry winter and warm spring pushed the vines toward ripeness more quickly than usual. Harvest was in late August, a full two weeks early.
Harvest Dates: 23 – 30 August
Grapes: Average brix 23.8°
Fermentation: No inoculation. Natural primary and secondary. Ten days of pump-over.
Aging: Air-dried american oak barrels (50% three years old, 50% six years old).
Time in barrel: 11 months
Average Rating: 88.6
No. of Tasting Notes: 37
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