The raspberry notes, combined with other fresh red fruits, in the aromatics of this offering from the Saitone Vineyard are characteristic of the site. Hints of anise, baking […]Read More
|40% new, 27% 1 yr., 27% 2yr., 6% 3+ yr.
The raspberry notes, combined with other fresh red fruits, in the aromatics of this offering from the Saitone Vineyard are characteristic of the site. Hints of anise, baking spice, tangerine peel, and a subtle note of Goji berry add complexity in this multi-faceted wine. Zesty on the palate, the concentration is due to the low yields in this old vine vineyard, which is aged over 120 years. While sizeable and tannic, the wine has terrific balance with extract and acid, and finishes with a sensation of citrus pith that gives way to minerals and crushed rocks.
The 2020 growing season started out very dry with 60% of average rainfall. Dry winters usually bring early bud break, but the nights were colder than average and bud break was delayed. Early spring rains recharged the soil profile, but periods of extreme cold caused many frost events throughout the Russian River Valley. In some areas, frost was an issue and had the effect of lowering the crop. Bloom weather was overall very good, but was interspersed with a few cool periods with scattered showers which created a “hens and chicks” cluster morphology. Late spring yielded ample sunshine and moderate temperatures, and the plants responded very well with excellent canopy growth. Slightly looser clusters and excellent viticultural timing set the stage for good exposure of fruit for color and tannin development. The consequent wines for 2020 have deep color and very refined tannin owing to the early season sunshine. The season ended up approximately 12% warmer than average, and did not have any heat spikes until August. Shoots and stems were well lignified, and seeds were brown—these are all indicators of maturity. The warmer parts of the Russian River Valley were near harvest already so the decision to start picking was made. Harvest started in haste on August 12, ahead of an extreme heat wave. On the night of August 16, the weather changed and there was a rare dry lightning storm that sparked a fire on a hillside in remote west Sonoma County. This fire would later be named the Walbridge Fire. In the Russian River Valley, it took a number of days for smoke to settle along with that were concerns of smoke taint. Based on test results for smoke taint on the grapes, several vineyards were not picked due to the threat of tainted wine. These vineyards were mostly on the Coast. For the vineyards that were picked, either before the fire or before the smoke settled, the result was concentrated wines with a darker, more brooding complexion. The polish of the tannin, coupled with excellent concentration, should allow for a wide drinking window.
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Wine & Spirits
Everyone on our panel described different facets of this wine’s “zinny energy” and “drive.” It hails from a viticultural treasure, 33 acres on Olivet Road planted in 1895, part of the Williams Selyem estate since 2016. The vineyard sustains zinfandel vines interplanted with a range of other varieties, as well as one block of carignan and another of alicante bouschet that contribute to this wine. It’s a compact Californian with discretion to its power, scents of conifer forest, dark flavors of grape skins and blueberries. The detail in the tannins grows more fragrant and herbal over the course of several days, suggesting the wine has long development ahead in the cellar.