82% Zinfandel, 18% Carignane
Despite an early budbreak and uneventful weather through bloom, the seven acres of old zinfandel on the ranch set a very small crop. Harvest in Sonoma was unusually early this year; with fewer grapes to ripen, Buchignani was earlier still. The grapes’ high skin-to-juice ratio brought greater intensity than usual, but also the possibility of excessive tannin. To achieve balance between structure and the ripe stone fruit, we limited pump-overs to one per day. As in the past, Buchignani carignane contributed additional complexity and a touch of elegance. In contrast to earlier vintages, the wine ‘s concentration permitted use of twenty percent new oak in aging. The 2004 is one of the finest zinfandels this vineyard has produced. It will develop fully over the next five to seven years.
This wine comes from a small planting of old-vine zinfandel on the Buchignani Ranch on Dutcher Creek Road, in the hills on the far western edge of the Alexander Valley appellation. (Carignane planted on the rest of the ranch provides a separate ATP selection.) The zinfandel block, approximately five acres in size, was planted in the 1940s and ’50s on a rocky knoll overlooking the family home, where Stan Buchignani, grandson of the ranch’s founder, Dominico Cerruti, lives today.
Rainfall: Below normal, less than 40 inches, very dry spring.
Weather: Warm/hot summer days, cool night breezes.
Harvest Dates: 17 – 19 August
Grapes: Average Brix 25.0˚
Fermentation: Grapes fermented on the naturally occurring yeasts. In-tank malolactic also carried out without inoculation.
Aging: Air-dried american oak barrels (20% new, 30%
two and three years old, 50% five and six years old).
Time in barrel: Twelve months
Average Rating: 88.9
No. of Tasting Notes: 46
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