This year, cool spring weather and late rains delayed budbreak on Buchignani’s seventy year-old head-trained vines. The late start, coupled with mild summer temperatures, ripened the grapes more slowly than usual; we harvested in late September. The five carignane blocks were picked and vinified separately. After natural-yeast fermentations, we tasted the wines to determine which best exemplified the flavors and character typical of this distinctive site. The two blocks we chose surround the family homestead from which three generations of Buchignanis have tended their sixteen-acre vineyard. The wine aged for twelve months in air-dried american oak barrels, of which twenty percent were new. The resulting spice complements the cherry flavors of this delightful old-vine carignane. Enjoyable now, it will develop fully over the next four to 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: 55 inches (above average)
Bloom: Early May
Weather: Wet spring, warm, dry summer, with rain
at the end of harvest.
Harvest Date: 20 September
Grapes: Average brix 24.5˚
Fermentation: No inoculation. Natural primary and
secondary. Total maceration time was 7 days, with a single
pumpover each day.
Aging: Air-dried american oak barrels (20% new, 20% one
year old, 25% two years old, 35% three years old).
Time in barrel: 12 months
Average Rating: 87.7
No. of Tasting Notes: 56
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