July 1998 Pre-release: The grapes used for this wine were minimally affected by the fall rains, and the clay soils had sufficient moisture to overcome the hot spells. Nonetheless, the usual selection of fully ripened fruit has resulted in one of the most dense and concentrated versions of this bottling we have encountered. Because we had more fermentation lots to work with, there were more options to fine-tune the blend. This wine contends to be the ‘best’ expression of these vines yet. Happily, because we used more of the family vineyard for our own wine production, we have twice the amount of this wine than last year.
April 1999 Release: This is a wonderful expression of the clay dominated soils of our family vineyard: Pomegranate, raspberry, black and red cherry, cedar, and fresh pie crust. All the 1997 red wines were left on their initial sediment (‘lees’) from harvest until the following May. This is the longest I have left our wines undisturbed during their early voyage in barrel. The Zins were racked for the second time in December and bottled without filtration in late January. This minimal handling really preserves their delicate perfumes (like Pinot noir), and should increase their ageing potential. That does not say that these wines normally have a short lifespan. All our past vintages, since 1991, have aged and developed much more slowly and gracefully than I had anticipated at the beginning of this project.
I have never been more satisfied with one of our ‘Old & Mature’ Zinfandels at this stage. It has a very dense, but friendly core and should be the longest-lived of these we have bottled (and that is saying a lot), without being heavy or ponderous at any point in the wine’s development.