• Vintage Report: 1968 Cabernet Sauvignon

    November 16, 2018 15:29

    Vintage Report: 1968 Cabernet Sauvignon

    Notes from wine enthusiasts who cellar our wine and write to me with their tasting notes are always welcome in my inbox. I received one such message today and wanted to share Mike K.'s experience with our 50 year old Cabernet Sauvignon.

    Think about it. Vintage 1968. I was 8 years old. While I don't remember specifically watching these grapes come in I am sure I was around after school wandering by the tanks in the cellar. My uncle John was at his prime in his 20th year as winemaker. His brother Jim recalls the vintage being a relatively easy one (compared to others challenged by rain or heat). In fact the Wine Enthusiast Vintage Chart lists 'Great Older Vintages' and includes California Cabernet Sauvignon from the 1968 vintage.

    Mike K., the wine enthusiast who sent me his notes, had some questions before he opened the wine. He and I wrote back and forth as he checked the website for background information, let me know the fill level was good, I let him know who made the wine and to use an 'ah so' opener in case the 50 year old cork had disintegrated. The evening came when he opened the wine so without further ado here is the message along with two photos he sent, one with the cork since he and I had wondered about the quality.

    1968 Pedroncelli Cabernet Sauvignon Private Stock

    There is always a sense of trepidation and anticipation when you open an old bottle of wine. When it does not go well, there is a bit of a sense of loss and what could have been. But when it goes well, like it did with this bottle, it can be a great experience especially when shared with friends. We really enjoyed this bottle and was very appreciative of the effort that went into make this some 50 years ago.

    I've had Napa Cabs from '70, '74 and '78 recently so it is from this perspective that this note is being written. 50 years, this wine has traveled for quite some time. The wine on opening needed a bit of time to wake up but once it did, it was a wonderful wine. This must have been a great large scale wine when it was young but the stuffing has allowed it to aged to become a graceful and elegant wine. On the noses, typical tertiary notes of cedar, tobacco, forest, dried fruits, and tea. The wine is very balanced, the texture was still very smooth and quite lush. The acidity kept it amazingly fresh for such an old wine. Compared to others of this age from the 70's I think that it was this balance and this liveliness that was the hallmark of this wine. Wonderful, drank well over the three hours that it was opened. While the finish was a bit short, the persistence was very long and lingering. Stunning.

    Thanks Mike! You made our Friday. My cousin Richard, John's son, wrote this after receiving the above assessment: "A great vintage, a great wine and a great wine maker."

    1968 Cabernet Cork

    1968 Cabernet Sauvignon

  • The D Word

    February 28, 2018 14:15

    The D Word

    Drought. The word is bandied about these days as we look to the last significant month in our rain cycle. March is usually the final frontier when it comes to the rain season. If we haven’t had enough (and we haven’t) then this is the last stand to make up for the small amount we have received so far. In fact the warm weather (in the 70s) we had in February almost made our vines think it was spring.

    We’ve had between 12 and 13 inches of rain this season. Average rainfall is around 30 inches. That’s why the dreaded D-word ‘drought’ is now being used. While considered moderate we’ll need a few more inches to even get close to normal.

    From the California Department of Water Resources comes this when defining drought for our state, “California is no stranger to drought; it is a recurring feature of our climate. We recently experienced the 5-year event of 2012-2016, and other notable historical droughts included 2007-09, 1987-92, 1976-77, and off-and-on dry conditions spanning more than a decade in the 1920s and 1930s. Paleoclimate records going back more than 1,000 years show many more significant dry periods. The dry conditions of the 1920s-30s, however, were on a par with the largest 10-year droughts in the much longer paleoclimate record.”

    The great amount of rain we received in 2017, while a distant memory, is something that isn’t repeated too often. The good news is it filled up reservoirs and even recharged groundwater storage in some places which is an important if unseen effect-without underground water the wells so many of us rely on for farming would affect our ability to deliver water when most needed.

    It remains to be seen what March will bring. We all hope for more rain to give the vines and other agricultural crops the water they need.

  • Sparkling Wine and Champagne Dreams

    December 30, 2014 12:07

    Do you remember your first sip of Champagne? I do! 22 years ago Ed and I were in Whistler for a Sonoma County Wine Tour. Our agent invited us to his place for a small reception-and poured Pol Roger. Needless to say, I was hooked on French bubbles from that moment onward. Earlier this month I saw an article about the San Francisco Champagne Society and I thought what a great idea to schedule an appointment for my sister who lives in San Francisco and is also a bubbly fan. We had a marvelous tasting of three very special, small producer Champagnes-and they didn’t disappoint! A nice way to start the holiday week. Recalling my first sip of California sparkling wine, it was Korbel followed soon after by Piper Sonoma and Gloria Ferrer, Robert Hunter and J. I think it is great to have this wide world of wine to taste from including imports—life would be boring to sip one type of wine, don’t you agree? Instead of wondering why the world seems to wait for December to enjoy sparkling wines (except for the occasional wedding toast) embrace the moment—I certainly did! A brief recap of my sparkling month includes visiting a couple of local producers to procure the good stuff for the holidays; a Bubble Room session at J Vineyards & Winery for Ed and me, a Miyagi oyster pairing with a bottle of Brut out at the coast as we celebrated our anniversary with good friends; enjoying a blind tasting of 8 sparkling wines and Champagne at a local winemaker’s home, paired with new friends and dinner it was so much fun, and, finally, kicking off Christmas Eve with a magnum of Brut Rosé from Roederer. Now what to have on New Year’s Eve…it will be sparkling for sure. Happy New Year!

    One of the Champagnes we tasted-it was our favorite. The photo doesn't do the beautiful color justice.

    French Champagne

  • Canyon Creek Rising

    December 11, 2014 12:30

    This day will truly go down in the books as an answer to the many prayers for rain. 5 inches overnight. And a few more inches today. While the drought is nowhere near over, this is a good healthy addition to our annual rainfall. Canyon Creek begins just north of us and runs through our Home Ranch as well as our East Side Vineyards, a mile west on Dry Creek Road. Part of it goes underground beneath the fermentation buildings, crush pad and bottling warehouse. Sometimes when we have this type of deluge it runs over. Today was one of those days—it flowed through our yard and partly into our cellar and warehouse. It even ran over Walling Road. The crew had their hands full cleaning up and trying to stay ahead of the storm. In the photo below, taken in the 1950’s, my uncle John is standing in the yard just outside of our cellar. As you can see, Canyon Creek spilled over then, the same as it has in every large storm. We’ll keep an eye on our hillside vineyards-sometimes they’ll slip with this much rain. Overall this is the relief that we were looking for-just all at one time. Grab your glass and toast the bounty of rain and 87 years of weathering storms.

    While we didn't see this much water through here today, Canyon Creek is known to crest pretty high. John Pedroncelli, circa 1950s.

    John in flood

  • BW 113

    October 2, 2014 15:26

    You could say we inherited a piece of history when my grandparents purchased the property in Geyserville in 1927. We were the second family to own a winery and vineyard here. The first one, who were also Italian, applied and received the Bonded Winery number from the Federal Government.They made wine from 25 acres of grapes for their store in North Beach in San Francisco. Why do we need a number to produce wine? "Bonded winery licenses are issued by U.S. Tax and Trade Bureau for the purpose of designating a tax-paid environment for wine." (thanks to the Wine Institute for the verbiage) This means we pay tax on wine before it leaves the winery. The amount ranges between wine made under 14% alcohol where we pay $1.07 a gallon to wines over 14% but under 21% cost $1.57 a gallon. We make around 165,000 gallons of wine each vintage, to put this in perspective.

    So how did we 'inherit' the original bonded winery number? When my grandfather purchased the property mid-Prohibition he bides his time selling grapes until Repeal in 1934. He set about making wine under his name and applied to the government for the original number. He received a letter, the framed version hangs in our tasting room, granting him the use of BW-113. The heritage of this place began with the Canata family and continues through four generations of Pedroncellis, 110 years of winegrowing.

    Fun fact: by 2012 there were 3754 wineries in California and 8806 in the U.S. The year I was born, 1960, there were 256 wineries in California and 500 in all of the United States. The year my grandfather started his winery there were 3 wineries in Dry Creek Valley. All these numbers make me thirsty, I'm pouring some Vino in my Dino.

    Bonded Winery 113