Meet Chris Cottrell, winemaker and Bedrock partner
Bedrock Amazing Tasting Lineup --
From Musqué selection planted on a particularly gravel-rich section of soil, the first harvest yielded a small crop of concentrated and explosively aromatic fruit. Since it was the first year of fruit, we had no expectations regarding potential quality and assumed the few barrels of wine would be blended into the Sonoma Valley bottling. We were pretty stoked when the wine ended up being one of the best lots in the winery. Barrel fermented in once and twice used Stockinger barrels, the wine has a ton of zip (3.02 pH!) to balance its weight.
From own-rooted vines planted in 1963 in the Cienega Valley on sandy soils derived of limestone and granite, this vineyard put out a scant 1-1.5 tons per acre of perfumed, vibrant fruit in 2018. For those wondering where Cienega Valley is (I had to look at a map the first time) it is located to the east of the Gabilan Range near the eastern entrance to Pinnacle National Park. The 2018 is one of my favorite versions of this wine as it combines its natural savory, mineral texture with classic Riesling flowery perfume (gardenia anyone?). This wine is fermented dry (we will invariably get a lot of questions since it is riesling) and made more in the style of Alsatian, Austrian or Grosses Gewächs iterations of the variety.
We often feel the geographic diversity of our vineyards rationalizes all the extra driving, and the travails of 2020 underscored this with a big ol’ Sharpie. Though unfortunately we lost a few lots due to smoke exposure, we were able to lean into the strong vintage at Esola, Schmiedt Road, Evangelho, Old Hill, Bedrock, Nervo, and others to make a classic rendition of Old Vine Zin. The largest single component comes from the old vines at Bedrock, followed by the perfumed goodness of Esola, the softer but fresh Schmiedt, and the peppery, dark-fruited Nervo Ranch. As usual, almost all of the wine consists of declassified barrels from vineyard-designated wines, so it offers serious bang for the buck. 85% Zinfandel with the balance a blend of Carignan, Mataro, Grenache, and Alicante Bouschet, along with esoteric creatures like Aubun, Abouriou, and many more.
The O.G. of Bedrock Wine Co.! These vines turned 131 years in 2018 and decided it would be a great year to turn out a relatively small crop of delicious and dense fruit. As always, the wine, though based around Zinfandel, is a field-blend of the 27 varieties found in the old vines at my family’s site in the heart of Sonoma Valley, including about 20% Carignan and 5% Mataro. Like the other Sonoma Valley "Grand Cru" sites, this will definitely reward time in the decanter or a few years on its side to start showing all of its secrets. The most consistently decorated of our wines (the 2016 was the Spectator #10 wine of the year and the 2017 just got another 95), the 2018 should be another classic.
From the lovely vineyard of our friends Mike and Kendall Officer, this wine is always one of my favorites for its gorgeous fruit and classic RRV aromatics. Made from vines approaching their 90th birthday located in the Piner-Olivet area of the Russian River Valley, this is a wine of dark hue and vibrant perfume—I tend to eschew using fruit descriptors on wines, but there always seems to be a distinct spiced mulberry component to this wine. Luxurious and fruit-forward, this will provide great drinking pleasure after decanting or age nicely for up to a decade. Drink 2018-2025
From vines planted in the 1960s at 2000' elevation at the top of Nun’s Canyon on the northern edge of the Moon Mountain District AVA, this is fast becoming one of the best-known sites for Cabernet in California. We feel very fortunate to share this incredible block with the likes of Turley, Arnot Roberts, DuMOL and others. The 2017 iteration of this wine is the most immediately generous and open of the vintages we have made. Classic black currant, anise and pepper are front and center here with classic mountain structure holding it all together. Though this is certainly as candidate for cellaring, it could also be enjoyed with a good decanting early in its life to enjoy it in its “baby-fat” stage.
This truly is a California blend in 2020 and, as usual, is one of the greatest value wines we make. As we have lost a few vineyards in the North Coast to Syrah decline, we have set our eyes to the exquisite soils and cool sites found along the Central Coast, and this wine reflects it. Based around the Syrah planted on dune sand at Whitehawk vineyard just north of Los Alamos, this also features a large pop of Hudson Syrah and Bien Nacido X-block along with a few barrels of Weill a Way. All of the lots were fermented with between 30-80% whole-cluster to contribute spice and perfume, and elevage took place in predominately older puncheons and demi-muids. Pepper, violets, cured meat and blackberry feature prominently here.
In 2020 we had the great fortune to add a few rows from the unbelievable Z-Block at Bien Nacido Vineyard to our section of 1973 plantings from X-Block. Z, which was planted in 1990 at the behest of Bob Lindquist of Qupé, is one of the most dramatically situated blocks of Syrah I have seen and sits at a higher elevation in a slightly more protected location on the ranch. The result is more powerful expression of Syrah that plays beautifully with the ethereal and lacy aspects from the windswept X-Block. For me, this is one of the best Syrahs we have made to date at Bedrock, with rose petal and violet, sage, lavender, white pepper and charcuterie swirling in primordial Syrah essence. Also, as a quick aside, I have found the 2017-2019 Bien Nacidos all show better on nights 2 and 3 of being open— this portends a long life for these wines but is also a good reminder that decanting will definitely be your friend for both this and previous vintages from this stellar site.