2008 Bradford Mountain Syrah, Gravity Flow Block
Syrah •Bradford Mnt Vineyard
California: Sonoma County: Dry Creek Valley
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s wine is among our all-time favorites for a Syrah! If you love great Syrah, please be sure to grab up a few bottles of today’s fantastic wine. A few cases even!
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Mission Codename: The Universal Law
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to our good friends at Peterson Winery, in Sonoma County’s pristine Dry Creek Valley, secure their newest Gravity Flow Syrah, a stupendous wine that is perennial Wine Club favorite.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Peterson Winery
Wine Subject: 2008 Syrah Bradford Mountain Vineyard Gravity Flow Block
Winemaker: Jamie Peterson
Backgrounder: Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley is a treasure trove of great wines. Today’s selection is from our friends at Peterson Winery and the Bradford Mountain Vineyard – which is located on the western edge of DCV where its higher elevation and unique soil composition have a divine influence on the grapes grown there.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Darkest magenta hues, with a darker, inky heart. CAt the edge of the glass, a beautiful ring of lighter, iridescent magenta runs a thin circle around the wine. After spinning the wine, mid-height, branching, wine-colored legs meander very slowly downward.
Smell – Darkly sweet and savory with layers of aromatics that bound from the glass. These are followed by sweet blackberry, blueberry and raspberry preserves meld with sweet spice, soft leather, candied cherry, sweet plum and a hint of cured meats.
Feel – Round and velvet smooth, on entry, this wine have a very elegant initial feel. After a few moments, the wine expands across the entire palate, gaining a bit of weight and complexity. Plush, integrated tannins and a bright acidity work together to give the wine wonderful texture and complexity.
Taste – A plethora of sark mixed berries meld with dried violets, dried fall leaves, sweet cherry, sweet spice and cassis. As the wine opens up, after swirling, it also reveals flavors of supple leather, dark cured meats, black pepper and dusty bramble.
Finish – Ultra long and packed with concentrated flavors, this wine leads with dark berry fruit, which gradually gives way to leather, spice, cured meats, bramble and subtle black pepper.
Conclusion – Syrah lovers, rejoice. Today’s 2008 Syrah Bradford Mountain Vineyard is the finest that we have ever sampled from Peterson Winery! Juicy, dark, balanced and so very delicious, our tasting panel is absolutely crazy about this superb wine. Over the last five years, we have had the remarkable great fortune to showcase at least six Peterson wines per year. Peterson is an absolute Operative favorite and we are grateful for the opportunity to share such consistently wonderful wines with you. The father and son winemaking team of Fred and Jamie Peterson are some of the most skilled that we have had the pleasure to have worked with. If you enjoy a great Syrah as much as we do, we are certain that you will also love this remarkable wine. Pair this wine with a savory herb-rubbed pork loin or tangy pork ribs. Drinking beautifully now, we believe that this wine will continue to progress for the next several years. Highly recommended!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Jamie Peterson
DATE OF BIRTH: March 20, 1981
PLACE OF BIRTH: Saratoga, CA (Mt. Eden Vineyards)
WINE EDUCATION: Ongoing, on-the-job. UC Davis Extension chemistry/lab analysis/viticulture classes.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Grew up in Peterson Winery, helping with odd jobs in the winery and vineyard as a teenager. Worked first harvest at 19, and then traveled to Australia and New Zealand to work harvest in 2001. took over as Assistant Winemaker at Peterson Winery in 2002. Given full Winemaker responsibility in 2006. 13 harvests under the belt at age 29.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: “Zero Manipulation”/Minimal intervention, letting the vineyard and vintage show through in each bottling. No fining, no filtration. Minimal new oak usage, minimal additions and SO2 use.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel (but his Syrah is amazing)
WINEMAKER QUOTE: ”If it ain’t got the root, it ain’t got the fruit.”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: For Peterson Winery- 1991. For Jamie- 2002 Vintage, released in 2004
AGENT RED: Greetings, Jamie. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Syrah, today. We love the wine!! Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today. And, thanks for making such amazing wines!
JAMIE: As always, it’s great to be back with The Wine Spies.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
JAMIE: It’d be hard to pick one. Growing up with the sights, sounds, and smells of the winery and vineyards, there were many inspirational moments. But I didn’t think I’d be getting into the life of wine as deeply as I have until I worked harvests in 2001 in Australia and New Zealand. Working closely with other winemakers and seeing the international wine community and how it ties people together made me decide to come back to the family winery and join full time in 2002.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
JAMIE: From my father, growing up in the winery, and learning on the job.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
JAMIE: I believe that vineyard and vintage driven wines are the only reason for small wineries to exist. I prefer wines from different vintages to reflect the growing season (otherwise why put the vintage on the bottle?) rather than use additives (acid, tannins, enzymes, gum arabic, overblown new oak, etc) or technological processes (filtration, alcohol removal, micro-oxygenation) to create wines that taste the same each year. I don’t filter or fine our wines, and I predominantly use native yeast fermentations and malo-lactics, so we have to keep things clean and monitor closely, as we don’t choose to use the tools for fixing mistakes that some wineries do. We source from the same vineyards each year, so there is a thread of continuity running through vintages. Our vineyards are sustainably farmed, with a few certified organic, and a number of others dry-farmed.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
JAMIE: I’m inspired by European vintners who have made wines from the same places for generations, and haven’t succumbed to commercialism.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
JAMIE: 2002 was my first full year of working with wines from grape to bottle. 2000 was the first full harvest I worked with my father. At 29, I have 13 harvests under my belt (including working in both Australia and New Zealand in 2001).
RED: Who do you make wine for?
JAMIE: I make wines for my own tastes, and then we find enough people that share our ideas and style to buy it. We don’t normally submit our wines for scoring or competitions, and instead rely on word of mouth and community to find enough supporters.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
JAMIE: Realize that winemaking is both simple and complicated. It’s all just fermented grape juice, but it’s all about the details; every minute little thing you do or don’t do to the grapes or wine will affect how it turns out. Taste as much as you can and think about who you will be making wine for.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
JAMIE: We’ve got the last of our 2010 bottling to finish up in the next two weeks before diving headfirst into preparing for harvest time. New barrels are beginning to roll in, and the harvest equipment will be dusted off and lubed up. We’ve started keeping a close eye on the grapes as they finish veraison (the process of turning color) and will start sampling in the next week or two.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
JAMIE: Syrah from steep hillside and mountain vineyards can be intense, with huge tannins and smoky, meaty character as the dominant flavors. We like this about them, but wanted to add some complexity to the wine and looked to the Northern Rhone Valley for inspiration. Planting Viognier on the north facing slope, about 8% of the vineyard, meant that it would ripen in sync with a large part of the Syrah block and could be cofermented. Viognier cofermented with SYrah makes for a more intense color hue, while adding softness and bright fruit flavors to what would otherwise be a hulk of a wine.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Bradford Mountain Vineyard such a special place for Syrah?
JAIME: The Gravity Flow Block is a part of our Bradford Mountain Vineyard Estate that sits on a rocky knoll overlooking the Dry Creek Valley at an elevation of 1000 feet. The hallmark of the entire mountain is a red, rocky, clay rich soil, creating wines with a lower pH and more mineral character intensity. The higher elevation puts the vineyard above the fog line and in a more wind prone exposure, meaning more sunlight hours while more quickly cooling off than the valley floor. All these factors combined with rigorous hand farming and canopy manipulation create terroir-rich wines that are truly one of a kind.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
JAMIE: Grilled leg of lamb! With rosemary and garlic rubbed on, and a side of a provencal style potato salad.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
JAMIE: I like to go mushroom hunting (for chanterelles and porcini), even though as a teenager I accidentally picked and ate Death Cap mushrooms.
RED: What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
JAMIE: Zinfandel is the wine I seem to open the most often of our own, but I also drink a lot of Rhone wines.
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
JAMIE: So many people look for the “best” wine. I always ask them “best for what?” Every wine has a place and time for appreciating (unless it just is a wine that really sucks…), and it’s more important for people to figure out what types of wine they like, and why, than what others think is the best. Trust your own palate rather than what a critic or others say.
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!
JAMIE: Thanks for having me, and for appreciating and featuring our wines!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Peterson Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards and Reviews
90 points – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate #196:
“The 2008 Syrah Gravity Flow Block Bradford Mt. Vineyard is a huge powerful red loaded with dark fruit, scorched earth, smoke and leather… In 2008 the blend is 92% Syrah, 7% Viognier and 1% Petite Sirah that spent 22 months in French oak barrels, 40% new. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2023.” – Antonio Galloni (August, 2011)
About This Wine:
Deep spicy aromas of freshly ground cloves, perfectly ripened blackberry and boysenberry weave together with hints of cola and leather, inviting you to sip. The soft creamy entry showcases a complex wine with layers of flavors that ends in a spice-ladened finish that lingers on the palate. Juicy dark-skinned berries and plum blend with notes of cola, espresso, cinnamon, nutmeg and a slight mineral essence to create an irresistible taste sensation.
Our 2008 Syrah offers a well-balanced wine with polished tannins, an elegant mouthfeel and so many flavors that each sip reveals another aspect of the wine. Enjoy solo, or with prime rib, cassoulet or a rosemary and garlic encrusted rack of lamb.
The “Gravity Flow Block” Syrah is the realization of a dream of mine to produce a Syrah grown on the most exposed, well-drained location on our Bradford Mountain vineyard. This rocky hillock directly behind my house on Bradford Mountain got its name from the fact that at the top sits our 10,000 gallon water tank that serves our house and garden via gravity flow. Though I had cleared the brush off the hill in the early 1990’s, it remained unplanted through the remainder of the decade as I put my efforts into our new winery.
In March 2001, I planted the vineyard to 90% Syrah (5 clones), 8% Viognier and 2% Petite Sirah with the vines planted 3 feet apart in the row and 6 feet between rows. Though the rocky ground made digging the planting holes a pain, we dug extra large holes mixing the rocky parent soil with substantial quantities of compost to give the vines a jump-start. We trained the vines up their training stakes that year and in 2002 harvested a small crop that we blended into our Mendocino Carignane.
Our 2008 “Gravity Flow Block” Syrah, harvested in two pickings on September 4th and 8th, is a big, flavorful wine, displaying the classic “iron fist in a velvet glove” qualities that are very representative of both the vintage and the vineyard on Bradford Mountain.
By co-fermenting the Syrah and Viognier (a nod to the methods of the Northern Rhone Valley in France), the union of aromas and flavors begins at the wine’s birth. The Viognier contributes significant yet subtle influences with its delicate floral and fruit components. The resulting wine is head spinning with seductive aromas, big chewy, juicy flavors and lots of fruit. And, at the core of this wine you’ll discover that amazing mineral essence, the trademark of Bradford Mountain terroir.
About Peterson Winery:
We are located in the Dry Creek Valley, in the northwest region of Sonoma County. Peterson Winery’s new tasting room is now open for wine tasting and sales daily 11am-4:30pm. We often pour our wines at local tasting and charity events as well. Check for upcoming events on the News & Events page.
Our wines are also available for tasting at the “LOCALS” tasting room in Geyserville. See tastelocalwines.com for directions and details. Click on the “Find Us” link for a map to the winery and to LOCALS in Geyserville.
If you have any questions about Peterson Winery or our wines, send us an e-mail at email@example.com and we’ll respond as soon as we can.
We can’t tell our whole story here, but we hope that by looking at a few photos and reading a bit more about us, you’ll find out who we are and why we love to make great wines.
About The Winemaker:
Jamie Peterson – It’s not by coincidence that I’m the winemaker at Peterson Winery. I’ve been helping my father at the winery for the past ten years, back to the days of labeling the bottles by hand. I worked two harvests here at the winery, in 2000 and 2001, and the 2001 harvests Down Under in Australia at Lowe Family Winery, and then in New Zealand, at Ngatarawa Winery. With this solid base of experience, much to my excitement I was given the opportunity of taking over winemaking duties in June 2002, and have been loving it ever since.
Overseeing the quality of the wine from when the grapes come in all the way through to the bottle is my main responsibility and priority. Since it’s just my father and I, this keeps me pretty busy, but when I’m not checking up on barrels or wrestling with the bottling equipment, you can often find me at one the numerous tasting events we attend, whether it is for charity or for the love of wine. In my free time, I’ve started a Peterson Winery softball team with my friends here in Healdsburg. I also enjoy cooking, foraging for local culinary mushrooms, reading, and am a Giants baseball fan. Continuing winemaking tradition of Zero Manipulation.
Vineyard: Bradford Mountain Vineyard
Appellation: Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County
Barrel Aging: 22 months
Types of Oak: 40% New French oak barrels, 40% 2-4 year-old French oak barrels 20% 5-8 year-old French oak barrels
Bottling Date: August 11, 2010 (unfined & unfiltered)
Production: 300 cases
Release Date: September 2011