The old head-trained carignane vines on Buchignani Ranch set a very small crop in 2007. Hot summer weather is typical of this part of northern Sonoma County; the grapes ripened quickly, leading to an early-September harvest. As usual, we picked and fermented the five vineyard parcels separately. After a natural-yeast fermentation, we tasted the individual lots, selecting two blocks—House and Top—for this year’s Advance Tasting Program wine. Because of 2007’s low yields, this is an unusually rich and concentrated carignane. It aged for twelve months in air-dried american oak (10% new, 20% one and two years old, 70% three and four years old). Delightful now, this exceptional carignane will continue to develop 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: 35 inches (below average)
Weather: Dry spring; warm, dry summer, sustained heat spells.
Harvest Date: 3 September
Grapes: Average brix 26.6˚
Fermentation: No inoculation. Natural primary and secondary. Total
maceration time 10 days, a single pump-over daily.
Aging: Air-dried american oak barrels
(10% new, 20% one and two years old, 70% three and four years old).
Time in barrel: 12 months
Average Rating: 88.7
No. of Tasting Notes: 70
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