2021 Bedrock Wine Company, Zinfandel, Beeson Ranch Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County.
The 2021 Beeson Ranch Zinfandel is outrageously delicious, with tons of charm, leading with pretty aromatics and incredible deep black fruits on the full bodied youthful palate that is bursting with energy, smooth layering and delightful length on the finish. I’ve just discovered this debut bottling here at Bedrock and I love the black raspberry, plum and currant fruits, as well as the delicate spice, mineral tones and elegant use of wood framing here that adds a bit of sweet toast and cedar notes that perfectly fit this wine. The Beeson Ranch, located in the Dry Creek Valley AVA, is a steep western site that was planted well over a century ago on the quartz laced marine sediment soils, it sees those hot Summer days, but gets a nice night time cooling influence that provides fabulous overall balance, as this vintage shows. This stony old vine vineyard, with its mix of igneous and metamorphic rock makes for a Zinfandel, that winemaker Morgan Twain-Peterson says, has both luscious and hedonistic weight and fine elegance, all of which, I find very compelling and seductive, especially this vintage, in the glass. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the latest releases of Bedrock’s Zins from the 2019, 2020 and 2021 collections, including their signature Heritage field blends, like the estate bottlings of the Bedrock Vineyard from Sonoma Valley and the Evangelho Vineyard in Contra Costa County, as well as their basic multi-vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel. That said, this Beeson Ranch, with its hundred year old vines, is very impressive and really hits the spot for me, it is distinctive and pure Zinfandel that really shined on its own, but got even better with casual mushroom pizza dinner, it gave a confident performance and I will be sure to get this special Zin bottling every time its offered. This Beeson saw a combination of oak aging vessels, with Bedrock having favorite barrels for Zinfandel, as well as their Grenache and even lighter weight Syrahs, which see 500- and 600-liter puncheons and demi-muids, with the winery noting, that these larger barrels retain freshness with a limited oak and oxygen impact, feeling that this helps preserve the fingerprint of origin in the wine better.
The winemaking at Bedrock, and under Morgan Twain-Peterson, relies less on dogma and more about what the vintage and vineyard needs to best show itself and with Zinfandel, it was once thought you’d always de-stem the grapes, but Twain-Peterson has used some whole cluster to great effect here. Typically Bedrock have never used whole-cluster on Zinfandel, Morgan says, and that like most things thought to be verboten, it turns out that whole-cluster, used during fermentation, can be delicious and fun! As anyone who’s enjoyed these Bedrock wines can attest to, and when done well, as Morgan continues, whole-cluster can amplify perfume, increase structural complexity, lower alcohol in the finished wine (stems absorb some ethanol), improve fermentation health by controlling temps, and increasing a wine’s overall character, which I agree with, believing it heightens the pleasure and allows more personality. Twain-Peterson warns that this doesn’t always make sense and the drawbacks can include stem bittiness, leading to green flavors, adding too, if used for pure carbonic maceration, the whole cluster can potentially overwhelm the wine with the bubble gum/banana Runts character. Morgan, who is one of only a few winemakers to be a Master of Wine, notes however, one only has to look at some of the finest producers employing almost 100% while cluster—Dujac in Burgudy, Chateau Rayas or Henri Bonneau in Chateauneuf, and Allemand in Cornas and Domaine Jamet in Cote Rotie, as he mentions, come to mind— see the enormous complexity than can be imparted on the wine, by the practice. Outside of Zinfandel, though this is changing, Bedrock uses whole-cluster on virtually all red varieties that come into their winery, including most successfully Syrah, along with Carignan, Mataro, Grenache, Cinsault, even and interestingly Cabernet Sauvignon. The Zins, like this Beeson, which sees mostly neutral oak to promote transparency and fruit density are wonderfully expressive, as Bedrock continues to experiment with whole bunches and macerations to make the most thrilling wines as possible, these are wines I highly recommend, especially this exciting 2021 vintage. If you’ve not had Bedrock or tried the latest examples, I really hope you get a chance to, as they are some of the best California wines available!
($45 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive