2006 Bedrock Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon •Bedrock Vineyard
California: Sonoma County: Sonoma Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: A Cab in the land of Zin
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Investigate Ravenswood, well known for exceptional Zinfandel, and acquire an exclusive allocation of a delicious single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Ravenswood Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 Bedrock Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Joel Peterson
Backgrounder: The historic Bedrock Vineyard located in the Sonoma Valley dates back to 1855 when the first grapes were planted here by Generals William “Tecumseh” Sherman and General “Fightin’ Joe” Hooker. Just over 150 acres, the vineyard has some of the best soil and climates for exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Sonoma Valley AVA is one of the oldest wine growing regions in California with the first vines being planted in the early 1800s. The AVA is located along California Route 12 and its eastern boundary are the southern end of the Mayacamas mountains. The unique micro-climate with less rainfall and fog than other parts of the region along with its unique soil provides ideal growing conditions for Zinfandel and especially Cabernet Sauvignon.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dense and dark garnet in color with a barely clear and intensely dark garnet heart. Along the edges the color remains thick with subtle violet hues and when swirled, clusters of slow thin colored legs descend to the wine below.
Smell – Rich and classic Cabernet aromas including blackberry, red currant and plum are layered with smoky oak and healthy spice component. A touch of black licorice, complex dark minerals and subtle herbs also emerges.
Feel – This full bodied and dry, wine is smooth and rich, with expansive but very well developed tannins, balanced acidity and a touch of dark minerality creates an almost chewy quality.
Taste – Bold but not overpowering, with rich fruit forward flavors of blackberry, plum and red currant that are broad on the palate with great complex spice, notes of smoky oak, a touch of black licorice and a subtle balsamic and mocha character.
Finish – Long and pleasant fruit fades gently as the well developed fine structure holds on for several minutes.
Conclusion – The 2006 Ravenswood Winery Bedrock Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is a delicious, bold and expansive Cab that is also quite approachable with great finesse and elegance too. Great dark fruit and spice aromas, exceptional mouth feel, generous complex fruit on the palate and a rich complete finish. What else would you want in a great Cab? We kept it simple and paired this delicious wine with grilled burgers with all the fixings.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: JOEL PETERSON
DATE OF BIRTH: APRIL 1947
PLACE OF BIRTH: Born in Oakland, California. Fifth generation Californian.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: ZINFANDEL
WINEMAKER QUOTE: ”Style, history, quality, character – California wine has it all.”
AGENT RED: Greetings, Joel. We are thrilled to be showing your exceptional Bedrock Cabernet Sauvignon today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
JOEL: Happy to answer questions, particularly when they are about my favorite subject, wine. I am also thrilled that you are showing my wine today. Direct experience is one of the best ways that we have of developing fans for Ravenswood wines.
RED: I’m sure that our Operatives will respond well to today’s offer. Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
JOEL: My father taught me to taste when I was fairly young. Many young men play baseball or hunt with their fathers (we did those things as well), but what was unusual was that I learned to taste wine and as a result got an olfactory training that is fairly rare. The single wine that change my vision of wine was a 1957 Chateau Fortia. I was about 20 years old and had developed incredibly interesting and complex perfume and flavors making is one of the most memorable wines that I had tasted up to that date.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
JOEL: I spent the years from 1973 until 1977 with Joseph Swan learning the nuts and bolts of winemaking. Joe was good friends with Andre Tchelistcheff and used him as a consultant, so I was able to learn in a very hands on way from the best in the business.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
JOEL: Wines should reflect the flavors of the places that they were grown. Wine should taste like fruit, not oak. Wine should be balanced, rich and complex and interesting. The best wines are the ones that develop well with age. To that end we attempt to let each vineyard express it’s optimal character by using winemaking techniques and careful attention to detail that dwells on each vineyards particular strengths. Our mantra is “no wimpy wines”, meaning that we want each wine we have to exhibit strength of character, not merely power.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
JOEL: There are a whole series of wines that have influenced my winemaking style. Most of them have been European form places like Bordeaux, the Rhone and northern Italy. These memorable wines have a certain balance of fruit, density, acid and tannin that I find desirable in a wine.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
JOEL: 35 years
RED: Who do you make wine for?
JOEL: I make the wine that best expresses the vineyard, the vintage is balanced and tastes good. As a result ,it is fair to say that, Ravenswood makes wine for me, wine reviewers and wine lovers everywhere.
RED: Tell me, what makes the Sonoma Valley so special?
JOEL: The Sonoma Valley is, from a historical perspective, one of the first important grape growing regions in California. It was chosen because it has all the elements that create excellent wines. The soils, for the most part, are volcanic. In the case of Old Hill, they are called Tuscan Red Hill soils. These soils are ideal for dry farming vineyards. The other primary characteristic is that it has a maritime influence which creates a significant diurnal variation; that is warm days and cool nights. This allows for longer maturation resulting in more intense and fresher fruit flavors in the wine.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
JOEL: Learn your craft well, be patient and love what you do. It is not “just a job”.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
JOEL: Much of what we’re doing these days is happening in the vineyard. It has been a very cool spring with lots of moisture and, as a consequence, we have been late getting in the vineyard with the disc to turn the grass under. Flowering is just beginning to occur – about 2 weeks late. We will soon be suckering the excess growth on the vines to allow more light into the canopy which will ultimately give us darker and more flavorful grapes at the end of the season. At the winery we are racking the red wines we made last year, making adjustments in the quantity of new oak in each blend, and beginning to work on trial blends.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
JOEL: Bedrock Vineyard is a very historic vineyard in Sonoma Valley. Originally planted by Gen Joseph Hooker in 1855 and replanted by George Hearst, who was William Randolph Hearst’s father, after Phylloxera in 1888 to a Zinfandel Field Blend. As it turns out, this site is also one of the best sites in Sonoma for Cabernet Sauvignon. This section of Sonoma Valley is well known for good Cabernet Sauvignon. Another well known producer, B.R. Cohn, is within half a mile. The Bedrock Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and its supplementing Merlot and Cabernet Franc vines were planted nearly 20 years ago The wine was made using classic Bordeaux techniques – closed top fermenters, pumped over gently to avoid extracting excess tannin, and aged in French oak – 60% of which is new – for 18 months. The wine has a beautifully heady Cabernet Sauvignon perfume with great density and structure. The wine will develop for at least another 15 – 20 years. This Cabernet is a very stylish, well-polished, beautifully structured, delicious California Sauvignon.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
JOEL: Today’s wine loves meat. Perhaps the most simple but delicious pairing is either simply grilled lamb chops or a great New York strip steak. The richness and sweetness of the meat mingles beautifully with the intensity and brilliant flavor profile of this Sonoma Valley wine.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
JOEL: I delivered my son, Morgan, at home.
RED: Both of my mini-agents were, as well! Tell me, what is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
JOEL: Sherman and Hookers Shebang. A one liter jug wine from California. Beyond that, I taste so much, my answer should be whatever wine is in front of me.
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
JOEL: With a sense of exploration, joy and with food and company.
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
JOEL: I would never make such a choice. Wine is about diversity and complexity. One wine would be boring. This is not a monotheistic endeavor.
RED: Excellent answer! What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
JOEL: Do you have the best, most interesting, most diverse, most challenging, most satisfying job in the universe? YES
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
JOEL: Every winery needs fans. Without them there is only a singular void. So, thank you to you and all those who make wine part of their daily experience.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Bedrock Vineyard can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
The 2006 was a very good, solid vintage for Cabernet Sauvignon in northern California. The end-of-season weather was sunny with nail-bitingly mild temperatures, which gave the grapes plenty of hang time and allowed them to develop rich flavors and fully ripe tannins. “Bedrock fruit has very pretty aromatics and high-intensity spice,” says Joel. “Tannins are firm but fine – more European in character, akin to Pessac-Leognan wines from the Graves region of southern Bordeaux, which also has gravelly soils. Bedrock Cab is high-toned, elegant and a bit haughty, not gentle and forward.” Built to last, Joel promises that this complex character will develop into something really interesting over time.
About The Winery:
For as long as anybody cares to remember, this has been the credo (calling card? Battle cry? Team yell? Coat of arms?) of Ravenswood Winery in Sonoma, California. Expressing our commitment to full-flavored varietal wine — notably Zinfandel — it sums up our mission to capture everything a vineyard has to offer, and to promote it in a way that won’t put people to sleep. Wine is, after all, one of the most fascinating and fun things in life, which is why Ravenswood winemaker Joel Peterson believes that it belongs on the table — not on a pedestal or in an ivory tower.
How did the name of Ravenswood become interchangeable with irresistibility? In the early 1970s, when California’s claim to fame was the “best jug wine in the world,” Joel’s dream was to create wines that would rival the greatest of Europe. Turned out he wasn’t dreaming: In his first vintage, 1976, he produced 327 cases of Dry Creek Zin that took first place in a prestigious San Francisco tasting. But despite the cult following and critical acclaim that began to swirl around its hypnotic logo, Ravenswood remained a roving boutique until the late 1980s, when its Vintners Blend program was launched. Conceived on Joel’s conviction that, besides great wine, the world needs good, affordable wine (“a lake of wine an inch deep”), it redefined the concept of Best Jug Wine in the World.
Thanks to this and a few other things (not least, its tireless campaign against priggish elitism), Ravenswood acquired an informal reputation as the people’s premium winery. In 1999 the company went public with a “Dutch auction” of shares offered over the Internet, and two years later Ravenswood was purchased by Constellation Brands, becoming part of its fine-wine division, Franciscan Estates — a productive partnership that kept the winery under Joel’s control while providing greater resources for efficient operation and growth.
The picture has changed a bit since 1976. Following the original inspiration of wineries like Ravenswood, California has now shirked its once-wimpy status to a fault. But the more things change around our Sonoma headquarters, the more they stay the same. In this brave new enologically altered world, Ravenswood continues to set a stubborn standard for complex, balanced, uncompromising wine that captures everything a vineyard has to offer (and, we might add, nothing more).
About The Winemaker:
Joel Peterson grew up on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay during the Dark Ages when California wine was judged by the type of jug it was bottled in. However, Joel’s farsighted father Walter bucked the status quo by starting the San Francisco Wine Sampling Club, which studied fine wines from all over the world. Walter allowed his son to join the group’s twice-weekly tastings when Joel was nine years old, carefully measuring the wine in the boy’s glass — then his spittoon — to make sure everything was expectorated.
By the time he was a teenager, Joel thus had a working knowledge of European vineyards and vintages, along with a collection of headstrong opinions about what made good wine. After graduating from Oregon State University, he followed in the professional footsteps of his parents (both of whom were chemists), going to work as a laboratory scientist. On the side, he made money through wine writing and consulting, gaining a local reputation as a gifted taster (and tasteless punster).
Eventually it dawned on Joel that he had the background (not to mention the prejudices) to be an actual winemaker. Hence, he apprenticed with Joseph Swan — one of California’s outstanding craftsmen of fine Zinfandel — to learn the art of traditional winemaking as practiced in Bordeaux and Burgundy. In 1976 Joel founded Ravenswood in partnership with fellow wine lover Reed Foster (a Harvard MBA gone astray) and over the next half-dozen years, their fledgling operation moved from the rear corner of one willing winery to another. When Ravenswood finally turned a profit after a dozen years of operation, they settled on the northern edge of Sonoma, where the winery’s tasting room is located.
Joel is now acknowledged as a leader in California wine — an articulate spokesman and stylistic trendsetter who helped make Zinfandel the runaway phenomenon that it is today. If there were a California Winemaking Hall of Fame, he’d be a shoo-in for early induction — not just as a home-run hitter but as one of the most popular players in the majors. (It’s said that even as a Little Leaguer he could handle the spitter with aplomb.)
Wine Type: Red Wine
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon (88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Merlot)
Appellation: Sonoma County
Ageability: 5-15 years