96% Zinfandel, 4% Carignane
Late spring rains and cool weather delayed budbreak, but set was exceptionally good, and the extra moisture helped these old, non-irrigated vines develop a healthy canopy of leaves. Like the carignane planted alongside it, the zinfandel maintained unusually firm acidity even into late August; we postponed picking for a week, and on September 9 a large crew was able to harvest the vineyard in one day. After a natural primary fermentation, the wine was racked directly to barrel, where it completed a long, slow, natural malolactic. Because the zinfandel crop was large and the interplanted carignane vines bore less than is customary, zinfandel completely dominates the blend. A rich, fruit-forward palate carries the ripe tannins beautifully, and a higher than-usual percentage of new and one-year-old american oak adds definition. This intense, balanced vintage will benefit from a year or two in bottle and develop fully over the next six or seven years.
This wine comes from a small planting of old-vine zinfandel on the Buchignani Ranch on Dutcher Creek Road in the hills north of Dry Creek Valley. (Carignane planted on the rest of the ranch provides a separate ATP selection.) The zinfandel block, approximately five acres in size, was planted sixty to seventy years ago. The vines are on a rocky knoll overlooking the family home where Stan Buchignani, grandson of the ranch’s founder, Domenico Cerruti, lives today.
Rainfall: Above average, over sixty inches, with late spring/early summer rains.
Bloom: Early May
Weather: Wet spring; warm, dry summer and fall.
Harvest Date: 9 September
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 (5% new, 30% one year old, 20% two and three years old, 45% five years old).
Time in barrel: Twelve months
Average Rating: 88.4
No. of Tasting Notes: 42
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