This small block of vineyard planted in the early 1970’s has been a real eye-opener for me. I recall helping plant this, barely a teenager, with early tractor driving experiences hauling a water trailer with a spring-loaded valve and rope attached so if I was reasonably accurate in placing the water trailer, the newly planted vine could have a few gallons of water placed in the hole above its recently covered roots on the day of planting. After the water soaked in and settled ‘the fines’ around the baby roots, the rest of the hole was filled up with soil with more mounded up over the top of the plant to keep temperatures and humidity appropriate for the little plant to gain a foothold in its new environment.
The eye-opener though, was the character of the wine once I began working with it nearly 25 years later. This is the Zin that wants to be Pinot Noir. I had no clue then. It took making wine from it to understand how different it was from the rest of the vineyard property. Now it is something we understand better and celebrate.
There is the stone-fruit thing (plum, nectarine), red cherry and a slightly savory sage undertone. It sets lightly on the palate with a very gentle progression across the mouth and very good length and continuity. Smooth and seamless, graceful and delicately layered, again, this is really the Zin that thinks it’s a Pinot Noir. It is an authentic snapshot of this small, unique site this year.
The prune trees my dad and grandfather tended for decades on this soil and other parts of the property had their own ‘terroir’ that I barely understood at the time. I recall that they bloomed in all their spectacular glory at different times than the rest of the orchard and were ripe at a different time as well. We used to gently shake the branches throughout the orchard so only the ripest fruit fell during each pass through the orchard. After 3 or 4 passes every few days the vast majority of them were harvested, leaving a few of the laggards to simply fall off the tree a week or two later when dead ripe. Those were the ones we did not take to the co-op dehydrator. We simply picked them up and dried them on redwood trays out in the field like in the earliest days before dehydrators. Later, old family friends would come from miles around to get some of these precious gems of the past that money couldn’t buy anymore.