Vineyard: Mokelumne Glen
Bottling Date: January 25, 2016
Release: March 1, 2016
Production: 72 cases
Drinking Window: 2016-2017
I was a little worried that the excitement of working with zweigelt might wear off after the first time, but if anything I was even more excited about it in 2015, as the fruit tasted absolutely amazing on the vine, and in contrast to pretty much every other vineyard in California, we actually got a good crop. Our zweigelt is farmed in deep, sandy soils right next to the Mokelumne River, in an area that is slightly cooler than most of Lodi, although far from cool. For this reason, we chose to harvest early again, on August 7th, in order to create the kind of bright, approachable, fresh wine that we love to drink. We hand harvested the fruit ourselves, and then drove it in a rented truck to the winery, where it was taken straight to tank without any destemming. By keeping the grapes on the stems, the berries remain unbroken, which allows a fair amount of carbonic maceration to occur before the primary fermentation takes place. As with all of our wines, the grapes were fermented without any additions. Fermentation was a little slower than in 2014, so the juice spent about 15 days on the skins, before being transferred to old oak barrels to complete malolactic fermentation. I decided to skip any sulfur addition to this wine, which meant it needed to be watched very closely, but each week it tasted better and better, so I was able to avoid any sulfur use at all. This does mean that the wine may not last as long once opened, although thus far I have not had any problems. I have shortened the drinking window as a precautionary measure, but part of me thinks this wine will have a long life ahead of it despite the lack of sulfur.
The 2015 Zweigelt is slightly less cloudy than the 2014, with a similar vibrant ruby/purple color. Aromas of berry, tomato leaf, and gunpowder(!) strike the nose, immediately letting you know this is no ordinary wine. The palate shows pepper, black tea, cherry, and currant flavors, with brightness and dense chewy tannin playing off one another. Vibrant and alive, this wine typifies the idea of ‰ÛÏglou‰Û wine, meant for drinking in large, glorious quantities. Plus, it is a zero-sulfur wine, which some claim prevents hangovers (HD makes no claim in this regard, but further study is recommended).