JUST BEFORE THE CIVIL WAR, the future Union Generals, Joseph Hooker and William Tecumseh Sherman, planted a vineyard in Sonoma, which was replanted in 1888 by William Randolph Hearst’s father. The vines that Hearst planted are now producing some amazing, and incredibly well-priced, wines under the Bedrock label. This is all due to the passion and skill of Morgan Peterson (the son of Ravenswood’s founder, Joel Peterson), who is methodically restoring to production some of Sonoma’s oldest vineyards.
As you’ve heard from us at Church Street Wine Cellars in years past, Bedrock is one of the most exciting wine projects in America. Please don’t miss these brilliant, and rare, examples of Morgan Peterson’s important work. In a world of “branded” corporate wineries spinning millions of cases of innocuous plonk from souless marketing departments, these wines are stand outs produced by a single individual, by hand, in an old Italian Basket press. Most of Morgan’s releases are in the 300 to 650 cases range (not the 400,000 cases of today’s “medium-sized” California winery).
Click here to see my video interview with Morgan in our temperature & humidity-controlled stone & brick underground wine cellar, Church Street Wine Cellars at 2 Church Street, Burlington, Vermont!
Bedrock “Sherman & Hooker’s Shebang!” Old-Vine Sonoma County White Wine 750 ml Reg. $12.99, CSWC price $11.99 ($11.49 case of 12)
This is a limited-edition, 300 case run of Shebang! white from vines planted between 1896 and 1954 in Sonoma Valley. The lion’s share of the blend is made up of 120 year old, old-vine Monte Rosso Vineyard Semillon that was fermented in stainless tank and then barrel aged in neutral French oak. The remainder is a couple barrels of 2009 Compagni Portis Vineyard (a white field blended vineyard of Gewurtz, Riesling, Trousseau Gris, Beshebang whiterger, Green Hungarian, and other stuff), along with a few barrels of 2010 Pagani Ranch Muscadelle planted in 1920.
Basically you have a delicious, plump, fruit driven white that doubles as a glass of California viticultural history. You can’t get that just anywhere else. Pear, mineral and some almost smoky notes, it has noticeable viscosity and provides a rather intriguing drink for normally a mere $13.
More than a century in the making, we’d suggest grilled fish or herbed chicken as a pairing.
Bedrock “Sherman & Hooker’s Shebang!” Sonoma Red Wine 1.0L Jug Reg. $16,99, CSWC price $15.99 ($15.49 case of 9)
Many of you are already familiar with this gem made from heirloom varietals, a wine is made by Morgan Peterson, son of Ravenswood’s Joel Peterson, from 80 to 100 year old vine Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah from nearby Abbastanza Vineyard, and some wonderful Syrah. The wine, a mix of vintages and was aged in 35% new French oak. This is a unique 1.0 liter Stelvin-closed (screw cap) jug that looks like a maple syrup jug, so it offers 33% more than the usual 750 ml bottle.
Morgan’s wines represent a serious philosophical challenge to agricultural monotony and a look to the past, pre-prohibitionary drinking. Full-bodied, ripe yet serious wine perfect for anything off the GRILL!
Like father, like son. Sherman & Hooker is a project from Morgan Twain-Peterson, the son of Ravenswood founder Joel Peterson. Joel Peterson is one of the most important dignitaries that California wine has seen in the last 50 years! He’s a hall-of-famer, rock star personality who was the key guy for making Zinfandel relevant again in California. He was, and still is the winemaker for Ravenswood Winery in Sonoma, a one-time titan in the world of Zinfandel and a sage of knowledge regarding these heritage vines. His love of old-vine Zinfandel vineyards throughout the north coast put him with a small band of dedicated producers that basically brought Zinfandel back from the dead.
Bedrock itself, is an itsy-bitsy winery making wine in a converted chicken coop. Fruit from only the most excellent vineyard sites is hand pitch-forked into the destemmer, fermented in open top redwood and stainless vats using only native yeasts, and are manually basket pressed by winemaker Morgan Twain-Peterson (Bedrock’s sole employee) into the sexiest oak from the coldest French forests.
The winery’s objectives are:
* To channel the fruit of ancient vines into powerful, elegant, and distinctly Californian wines.
* To spread the gospel of Syrah in California by sourcing fruit from great terroirs throughout the North Coast.
* To proclaim the greatness of Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon by sparing no expense on wines of uniqueness and personality.
* To reclaim rosé from the excesses of saignée and focus on precision, delicacy, aromatics, and food friendliness.
* To make fascinating and quixotic white wines from unique sites and interesting varietals.
* To make California Pinot Noir that ages as well as ’74 Swan.
*To dream big but keep production low!
These are a great way to introduce yourself to the wines of Bedrock Wine Co. as Morgan has a CLOSED MAILING LIST with a LONG WAITING PERIOD. CSWC stocks other Bedrock wines, and have pre-ordered from the winery some of Morgan’s top bottlings due to arrive at the store by mid-October (pre-offer below).
Background: Winemaker, Morgan Twain-Peterson
Morgan Twain-Peterson was born at home in Sonoma, Ca. On January 6th, 1981 to Joel Peterson and Kate Twain.
Raised at his father’s Ravenswood Winery, Morgan was exposed to wine and wine tasting at an early age. In David Darlington’s book “Angel’s Visits,” it is noted that “Morgan, at the age of five, could distinguish between Merlot and Zinfandel.” Morgan began making small lots of Pinot Noir at age 5 from fruit given to him by the Sangiacomo family. Motivated by the best wines of Domaine Dujac, he began experimenting with whole cluster fermentation, different types of French oak, and various ripeness points. Vino Bambino Pinot Noir, as the wine was known, was made from 1986 to 2001 and has been featured on the wine lists of Craft, Gramercy Tavern, Blue Hill, Delmonico’s, Aureole, and Mesa Grill.
While doing undergraduate work at Vassar (whose founder was a brewer of all things), and graduate work at Columbia University, Morgan worked as a wine buyer and salesperson for Arlington Wines and Liquors in Poughkeepsie, and Chelsea Wine Vault and Pet Wines in Manhattan. After receiving his MBA from Columbia, Morgan returned home to Sonoma in 2005 to work harvest at Ravenswood. From there he spent time as a visiting winemakers at Hardy’s in McLaren Vale (where he also spent a few highly educational days with Drew and Rae Noon at Noon Winery), and in the fall of 2006 was a visiting winemaker at Chateau Lynch-Bages in Pauillac.
Morgan is a manager of his family’s Bedrock Vineyards in Sonoma Valley, and is a member of Sunbreak Vineyard Services L.L.C, a vineyard management company. He has also passed the prestigious Master of Wine exam and upon successful completion of the dissertation will become one of the less than thirty American M.W.’s.
Bedrock Wine Co. firmly believes in the philosophy that “diversity is the spice of life. The wines I make are not limited to a single caste or single style. Rather, they reflect my own eclectic tastes and general feeling that a broad palate makes for more interesting gustatory experiences. As such, you will find a range of wines emanating from our humble cellar- from rich and spicy Zinfandel based field blends, to aromatic and sensual Syrah, to dry and lithe Rosé and Graves Blanc blends.” – Morgan Twain-Peterson
To order, just drop us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Extremely Limited Bedrock Wine Co. Pre-Offer (arrival is mid-October, Morgan’s wines are released on September 3rd)
When Morgan Twain-Peterson of Bedrock Wine Company sent out his Fall offering to his closed mailing list last week, it inevitably sold out within the first twenty minutes. Our first thought? Uh oh…we were going to be passed over here in Vermont. Luckily for us, Morgan loves to ski, and thought fondly of us and his small distributor network and had generously reserved an allocation for them. One that would easily be eaten up in a blink in a larger market, and one that won’t go terribly far here in Vermont as a result of his stunning reviews and dedicated following. If you value Morgan’s work, please don’t wait…these are quite allocated.
2010 Bedrock Heirloom Wine, Bedrock Vineyard, Sonoma Valley
“The viticultural gods smiled on Bedrock Vineyard in 2010. While the fierce heat did cause damage to some of the younger vines, the 1888 plantings withstood the withering meteorological assault like the champs they are. I sourced the Zinfandel and mixed-blacks from three separate blocks- each coming into the winery in the 24.5 brix range. I picked the Carignane and Mourvedre separately, and for this year, all of the old-vine Syrah– though picked out vinified separately– has been added to the final blend. The final wine is roughly 55% Zinfandel, 25% Carignane, 11% Mourvedre, and 9% Syrah and the numerous other “mixed-blacks” found in the vineyard. As usual, the wine is dominated by the orange-oil, spice, and perfume of the vineyard. In the range of power, this wine occupies a middle ground between the elegant 2009 and powerful 2008. Though delicious now I think this wine will drink best a few years down the road.”
ONLY 400 cases made. $36.99, CSWC price $34.49
2010 Sonoma Valley Old-Vine Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley
“Despite the difficulty of the harvest for Zinfandel, I feel that the 2010 version of this wine is actually better than the 2009. Why? Because though Stellwagen and Puccini Vineyard, which were slated to be vineyard designates were quite good (to be honest even my father is wondering why I am not vineyard designating Stellwagen), I am just not 100% pleased with the wines. As a result, I am turning the Sonoma Valley Old-Vine bottling into a “super-cuvee” of sorts. The backbone of the wine comes from the 1890’s planting of Zinfandel at Stellwagen, with nearly equal parts of fruit from the 1930’s plantings at Scatena Vineyard (actually a crazy field blend of Zinfandel and the obscure Aubun and Abouriou) and younger vines from steep and rocky terraces of Los Chamizal Vineyard. Add to this a couple dollops of fruit from Kenwood’s Rossi Ranch and a barrel and a half of wine from the 1905 plantings at Puccini Vineyard along with 13% old-vine Mourvedre from Bedrock Vineyard and you have the blend. The wine saw about 18% new French oak from Rousseau, Ermitage, and Orion.
As many of you already know, I prefer Zinfandels that are classically structured—that are not shy on tannin and leavening acidity. Though it was impossible to avoid 15% alcohol given the heat-wave in 2010, the fruit got there from being picked sub-24.5 brix and soaking up, rather than being picked at 29 and watered back (a FAR too common practice these days) which makes a major difference in fruit tone (fresh rather than jammy, bright rather than mute). In short, I hope my Zinfandel’s are close to my fathers from the early and mid-90’s. I love Sonoma Valley Zinfandel for its spice, its ageworthiness, and its lyricism—if Russian River Valley is Miles Davis’s Blue period, Dry Creek his Bebop, Sonoma Valley is his Sketches of Spain. This should provide much drinking pleasure over the next 5-7 years.”
ONLY 650 cases made. $26.99, CSWC price $25.49
2010 Monte Rosso Vineyard Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley
“I have been going to Monte Rosso Vineyard since I was a twelve years old kid. It was 1993 when my father started receiving fruit from the storied Martini vineyard and I still remember his excitement and awe. The soils are crimson red, the slopes are steep, and the vines twist upwards from the earth like Medusa’s serpentine follicles.
For nine years Ravenswood made one of the best examples of Zinfandel from the vineyard—a testament both to my father’s skill as a winemaker (mountain Zinfandel comes with its own set of challenges), and to the block from which he received fruit. Alas, in 2002, following the sale of Ravenswood to Constellation and the sale of Martini to the Gallo family, Ravenswood stopped receiving fruit from the vineyard. In 2007, when I started Bedrock, one of my first calls was to inquire about fruit. Though the Gallo family generously was able to provide me with the ancient Semillon that makes up the backbone of Cuvee Caritas starting in 2008, it was not until last year that I was told they might have some old-vine Zinfandel available.
Now, Monte Rosso is a mammoth vineyard—truly a jaw-dropping Gargantua when you consider it was put in on the rocky side of a mountain in the 1880’s with only dynamite and hand-labor—so I had no idea what fruit I would be receiving. As fine fortune would have it, I was taken to my father’s old block—its beautiful, steep, westerly, aspect and knarled skyward vines looking virtually the same to my 29-year-old eyes as they had 16 years earlier. The 2010 is the best Zinfandel I have ever made. Yes, it is rich and ripe, bearing 15%+ alcohol, but it also carries those things that I love most about Monte Rosso—the mountain spice, the almost claret-like texture, the vibrant red fruits. If you are a tannin maven like me you will like this wine young, but as the many wines I have had from Martini from the 60’s and 70’s show, Monte Rosso Zinfandel has an uncanny knack for aging elegantly for many decades.”
ONLY 300 cases made. $39.99, CSWC price $37.49
To pre-order for mid-October delivery, just drop us an e-mail at email@example.com