Vintage Wine

  • Highlights from 2018: 10 of My Favorite Things

    December 21, 2018 10:03

    Highlights from 2018: 10 of My Favorite Things

    Lists, they are a ‘thing’ at years’ end and the New Year. Some people check it twice, some make resolutions. I’ve put together a few of my favorite blog posts, views and news from 2018.

    10- Harvest 2018 was a good, juicy and large one! As the red wines from this vintage are tucked away in the barrel room and the white wines begin their march to the bottling line we have high hopes for such a great vintage coming to you soon.

    9-90 Points and more! As I was reviewing our reviews, ha ha, I found that three times in the last year three of our wines were featured in the three different issues of the Wine Spectator-unprecedented! And more points were awarded to our Zinfandels than ever before. We were thrilled and gratified with these and for our other wines doing so well. A huge note of thanks to our hardworking cellar and vineyard crews!

    8-Milestones: reaching for 100 by taking each day at a time. We head into 2019 with our 92nd anniversary ahead. Four generations have farmed, made wine, and thrived on this little corner of Dry Creek Valley and each day is a step toward reaching our 100th anniversary-one day, one season, one year at a time.

    7-"Sell more wine." When Ed first came to work he tacked up a paper on the corkboard above his desk-13 years later it still resonates each time I visit his office.

    6-Montse Reece crushes her 12th vintage at Pedroncelli. She began as assistant winemaker in 2007 working with John Pedroncelli. She became winemaker, only the third in our 90 year history, and continues to strive for our house style while imprinting her own sensibility on each of our wines.

    5 is the number of Taste Ups we did with our wine and travel bloggers across the U.S. Some great mentions and articles were written about our wines and way of life.

    4-Word from the road-postcards to my grandsons. Ed recently visited Joe and family and his wife Ashley brought out the basket with all the postcards I had sent Jordan and Weston over the last couple of years. It is my way of staying in touch when I am out of the area. They are always on my mind!

    3-Scents & Memories: wine intertwined with me from childhood. I admit this blog post was a fun one because each morning, Monday through Friday, I get out of my car and inhale the most wonderful scents each season brings.

    2-Gratitude Vine: Our guests have had a wonderful time adding to the old vine trunk displayed in our tasting room. We'll take down the 2018 tags and our visitors will add to the 2019 version.

    1-Zin is the word. I am declaring 2019 the year of the Zin. Our style reflects the best of this grape in a trio of vineyards: Mother Clone, Bushnell and Courage/Faloni Vineyard. We have broken our own records with the quality and excitement around this true California grape. See #9 for more proof!

    From my family to yours we wish you all the best in 2019-I know I'm excited to see what's around the corner!

  • 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

  • Old Wine, Tasty Wine?

    May 25, 2017 12:01

    Old Wine, Tasty Wine?

    As we move through our 90th anniversary year we are taking some of our cellared wines from the library and giving them some consideration. Many are 20, 30 and 40 years old. Today we are celebrating National Wine Day (May 25). I thought I’d discuss my experiences of tasting some of our older wines, a few of them in great condition and others have gone over the wine colored rainbow bridge.

    With this in mind I found, for the most part, our Cabernet Sauvignons have held their ground in the world of cellar aging. The 1966 I tasted last night was a bit tired in the aroma department and once tasted I think actually held onto some of its’ youth with touches of tobacco, a bit of acidity and tannin, overall very soft. At this point, for many wine lovers and fans, this wine has joined the ‘over the hill’ gang but I am still fascinated by the longevity—51 years old!

    A 1977 Cabernet Sauvignon fared a bit better-and coming from a drought period. The wine still captured the fruit and acidity with a bit more concentration from the lower yield influenced by drought that year.  With a bit of zestfulness it holds as one of the best from an uneven decade and did well in my opinion. Not for the faint of heart and certainly something you want to pour and serve almost immediately-the more aeration the faster the bouquet disappears and my advice is not to linger.

    Our 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon is a good example of a well-aged wine at 22 years old. It had life left including fruit framed by still-present tannins and hints of warm toasty oak, although the tannins had softened up and acidity provided the tart palate. Predictions of a Cabernet worthy of aging, based on the growing season that year, proved right. Decanting the wine would not be required, drink up because older wines don’t last into the next day.

    Heading into the first decade of the new millennium the Cabernets of this period tend to be doing well with plenty of aging capability left. The 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon shows fruit over tannin, beautiful toasted oak and acidity frame the wine. Decanting at this stage in the aging game would be recommended.

    Take a look around your stash and don’t wait too long to enjoy the fruits of your cellar. You don’t have to reach into your cellar (closet, garage, wine refrigerator) for an older wine. Enjoy a glass of your favorite today. Pair with whatever you are having, from a quick weeknight meal to after dinner reflection.  Post photos using #NationalWineDay on your favorite social media channel. A toast in my Dino with a splash of 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon!

  • OTBN Pt. 2

    February 26, 2016 17:25

    Open That Bottle Night is tomorrow night, the 27th of February. This is a fun way to take a look at the wines you have stored or saved over the years-and even if you don’t have a cellar or closet to age wine pick something up you haven’t tried before.

    In the case you have an older vintage on your hands remember to check a few things out: fill level of bottle or any leaks through the cork. If you have a two-pronged wine opener this is best for older corks but careful use of a regular corkscrew should to the trick. Decant if you like although I think the aromas of an older vintage (15-20-30 years old) tends to dissipate quickly. Needless to say don’t linger over an aged wine-it is delicate in its old age.

    I am at this moment looking at an empty bottle of the 1972 Pinot Noir, one of which we bought at your winery. My husband is now gone and I decided to try it to see if it as still drinkable. Well, it is the most fabulous wine I had ever tasted and I drank it at the rate of about an inch an evening. Thank your family for such a wonderful experience. Geraldine W.

    Re: 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon: Opened tonight with little hope that it would still be drinkable. Amazingly alive and vibrant. Tastes 20 yrs younger You guys are good. Charles J.

    I recently drank a 1978 bottle of your Cabernet Sauvignon & it was terrific! I found it in a wine rack in the garage of an old house near Eugene, Oregon, which hadn't been lived in for over 10 years. It had undergone winter lows of about 20 degrees & summer highs of 90 - 100 degrees. This is approximate, but it would be simple enough to check the weather history. Bill M. (while we don’t recommend our Cabernet be aged this way I am glad it tasted good!)

    And the highly unusual for a 23 year old white wine:

    My wife and i just opened a bottle of 1985 Chenin Blanc that my father was keeping in his celler these past few years (23). We had the pleasure of opening this bottle tonight and it was excellent. We normally drink your cab, but very much enjoyed this bottle. Thank you, your family, and hard working staff for the wonderful wines you bring into this world. Bill & Diana T.

    A toast in my Dino with a bottle of 2004 Mother Clone Zinfandel-that is the plan for tomorrow night!

    1973 Cabernet Sauvignon

  • OTBN Pt. 1

    February 24, 2016 17:29

    Open That Bottle Night (OTBN for short) is scheduled for Saturday February 27. Here is a link to the people and the history behind it, Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher. I am championing this event because I think those of us who love wine have stored away a bottle or two, saving it for a special day. OTBN is that special day when hundreds, maybe thousands, of wine lovers will be opening their special bottle along with us.

    Gather friends or loved ones close and have a few things on hand in case they are needed. First check the bottle you’d like to open and make sure the wine is sound by checking the fill level or if there are any leaks around the capsule/cork. Have a two pronged opener in case the cork is old and delicate-wines over 20 years old would be in this category as the cork ages too! If you have a decanter use it on wines less than 10 vintages old-older than this the decanting might aerate the delicate aromas away. As the OTBN rules suggest, have a ‘plan B’ wine on hand in case the first one has gone over the hill. Have fun with this-I’ll be posting my bottle on Friday and opening it Saturday night. A toast to older vintages and special wines!

    Here is a bottle we opened with friends from Amathus Drinks who were visiting us this week from England-it was truly enjoyed by all. The wine was sound, the fruit and oak notes still alive, yet the tannin had softened up quite a bit making it all the more enjoyable.

    1995 Cabernet Sauvignon

    Say hello to our friends Lucy, to my left, my husband Ed, Leo, Lee and Will. We had a smashing dinner!

    Dinner Group Feb 2016


  • Messages in a bottle

    November 25, 2015 12:09

    Today I am including a note from one of our many customers who opened a bottle long kept in their cellar. It takes a special appreciation for these older wines because they have lost the fruitiness of their youth and developed many other characteristics while quietly aging away in someone’s cellar. I read many articles about aging ability of red wines. There is always a discussion about what is needed in order for the wine to age gracefully and resulting in a wine you can appreciate if not enjoy.

    So I have received these ‘third party endorsements’ of those who have waited patiently to try, in this case a 42 year old Cabernet. Each one of the messages (with photos) are always complimentary as you’ll see in this quote from Charles J. MD: “Opened tonight with little hope that it would still be drinkable. Amazingly alive and vibrant. Tastes 20 yrs younger. You guys are good.” Thanks Charles!

    This shows our wines are aging gracefully with thanks to my Uncle John who made this wine all those years ago with an eye towards balance. As you celebrate the holidays and have a gem in the cellar go ahead and open it up and share with family and friends. I’ll have a splash of Cabernet in celebration of messages in bottles. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

    1973 Cabernet Sauvignon


  • 2015 vs 2012

    October 2, 2015 13:59

    More harvest know-how continues in my blog this month along with other cellar and vineyard post-season matters. Today I am comparing the difference between Cabernet Sauvignon which has just completed its’ fermentation process and gone through the press with a current release that is three years older. The new wine has just spent 10 days in a temperature controlled stainless steel tank with the cap of skins where all the color and flavor is stored. Pumpovers each day ensure the juice is in frequent contact with the cap. The differences aren’t too far apart when you look at the depth of color in the glasses-it is quite opaque. I see the real difference in the rim of the wine.

    2015 vs 2012

    The brilliant purple color of the new wine contrasts with the browner, reddish tones of the Cabernet that has been aged for one year in oak and bottle aged for another. In a few months the new Cabernet will be put to bed for its’ year in oak around January. The process of aging the wine will soften it, the color will also change from the deep purple to a red or garnet hue through the slow oxidation over the twelve months. When the wine is bottled and continues aging it also begins to change color but this is a slow process, taking several years, and ultimately fades a bit with time.

    1974 Cabernet Sauvignon

    Thanks to Robert F. for sending the photo of our 1974 Cabernet-you can see the color change in this now 40 year old wine. A splash of Cabernet, young or old, in my Dino today!

  • OTBN-What are you saving it for?

    February 27, 2015 17:01

    Ed and I have collected wines here and there during our 25 years of marriage. I hesitate to open some of them because, in some cases, we waited too long. There are great memories associated with several of these bottles, others in our collection were given as gifts, some I don’t remember where they came from. It is a gamble I’ll be taking come this Saturday, the official Open That Bottle Night. Whatever the case, the wonderful thing about opening a cellar jewel is memories like who you were with, where you were or who gave it to you. Think of opening an aged or old bottle of wine as an adventure in taste. You’re not really sure what you’ll find but you may be rewarded with a gem! Don’t be afraid to open your bottle but have a back-up in case it has become like Elvis and left the building. I’ll be with my family enjoying a bottle of 1977 Cabernet Sauvignon, toasting the memory of my uncle John and celebrating his winemaking legacy.

    For guidelines click here

    We opened this bottle at Bern's Steakhouse in Florida a couple of years ago.

    1968 Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Aging Wine: The Good, Bad and Ugly

    February 24, 2015 17:05

    The Good: (From 2013) "I just wanted to share my experience with you. I am stuck in a bit of an aftermath from the recent snow, so I have not been able to restock in the last week. I have been dipping into the cellar reserve (and found) the 1994 Three Vineyards “Special Vineyard Selection” Cab. Needless to say, it has endured the years and poured most perfectly into my glass before I affirmed the reason I bought it in the first place." Blogger’s note: Great news! Our wines have the structure to age gracefully.

    The Bad: (From 2003) "My parents are moving after more than 30 years. We found a bottle of 1973 Pedroncelli Zinfandel that had been in their cellar since they bought it. I wanted to know if that much age is good for your zinfandel. Or from 2004: "I found this bottle of wine, 1976 Pedroncelli Zinfandel, on my trash route. I was just wondering how much this bottle of wine would be worth." Blogger’s note: Sometimes we lose out because we waited too long. I usually suggest a Zinfandel be consumed 5-8 years after release especially if you like the fruit component.

    The Ugly: (From 2011) "I received as a gift a bottle of your 1993 (!) Primavera Mista Original White Wine Blend and it has many suspended particles in it. It looks like the cork may have deteriorated. Otherwise it looks to be OK. Can you please tell me if this wine is still expected to be OK and if so how best for me to remove the particles in it to try it?" (From 2005) "We got the bottle of 1975 Pinot Noir out of our wine storage. The neck/cork was protected by the old lead foil. The big disappointment, the cork had rotted, and was soft, soggy, moldy and the wine ruined. The 4-5 tiny pin prick holes on the top of the foil showed no sign of wine leakage and the bottle appeared full." Blogger’s note: you win some and you lose some. These were total losses in the quality category. Some white wines are not made to age and other times there are closure failures.

    The moral of the story? Open those bottles before they go bad. I’ll have a couple of more stories on Thursday and a special announcement of what bottle I’ll be opening! Open That Bottle Night: February 28.

    1985 Cabernet Sauvignon


  • Cellar Jewels

    February 17, 2015 17:16

    One of the fun parts of my desk job is receiving an email message or two every month about a wine someone has found or opened after it spent 20-30-40 years aging away. Here is one of the recent posts, read it and then I’ll discuss the finer points of aging red wine. From Robert Fakundiny, “On Monday I popped one of my two remaining bottles of your 1974 Cab. What a delight!  The cork broke in two but was still clean and dry on the end. I double decanted it and filtered the dregs. It opened with a good cab nose, was purple with a garnet tinge, still had some fruit, and acid and body were still there, even some tannins. (I bought them from the winery and carted them home on the plane, wrapped in a box of clothes. You could still do things like that back then.) Last night I had the rest. It had lost some of its charm by then. The fruit had fled. I suggest consuming the whole bottle within a few hours of opening, especially with knowledgeable friends. Thank you for those old, great cabs that were made in the "old" style. Now the only question is: when do I open the other?”

    Thank you Robert for sending not only your experience of tasting the wine but a photo as well. I figure he bought this wine in 1977 or 1978. We had aged it for two years, first in a redwood tank and then oak barrels. It also received a full year of bottle aging before release. Robert took it home and stored his cache, opening a bottle every now and again. As you can tell by his comments this wine is slipping just a bit but notice his comments about acid, tannin, a bit of fruit that frankly wafts away minute by minute, urging one to open, decant and immediately, without pause, drink the wine. 40 year old Cabernets aren’t for the faint-hearted, their characteristics are completely different because of the length of time aging it. Our style, which Robert refers to as ‘old’, is one of the reasons the wine is still enjoyable. I must note that not everyone is so lucky when it comes to opening a wine which has decades in the cellar-sometimes the cork has deteriorated and allowed too much oxygen and has leaked thereby spoiling the wine. There are also wines that have had to overcome great odds, being stored in a garage where temperatures fluctuate beyond the preferred constant environment of 55 degrees or so. And to answer his question of when to open his last bottle? Soon, very soon because the risk of aging it much longer will outlast the drink-ability of this 40 year old Cab. A toast as we work our way to Open That Bottle Night the last Saturday of this month-what are you waiting for?

     For more about OTBN click here.

    1974 Cabernet Sauvignon