Bedrock, a word filled with connotation, and one well-chosen for Morgan Twain-Peterson's fledgling wine company. The son of one of California's Zinfandel heroes, Joel Peterson of Ravenswood fame, Morgan has emerged as a champion of old-vine Zinfandel vineyards, old-world winemaking techniques, and old-fashioned values. His wines, predominantly Zinfandel and Zinfandel-based field blends (with a nice selection of Syrah as well) have won over wine lovers. And while they’re mainly available through Bedrock's mailing list, that shouldn't prevent you from trying to track down a few.
Fermented with natural yeasts in open-top fermentors, these wines quite literally look to the past for inspiration, yet are at the same time completely modern in their purity and expressions of fruit. If you love Zinfandel, they are wines that will ring your bell; if you are unsure if you love Zinfandel, you probably have yet to try them. They not only express the fruit of their old-vine vineyards, but do a terrific job of expressing the vineyards themselves. Perfumed, with an obvious if not excessive use of oak, each wine stands as a unique expression of a vinous treasure nearly lost to time.
These are not vineyards that have proven to be particularly profitable for their owners, and without the direct-to-consumer model that Morgan uses, it's likely they would be grafted over to something more profitable; Cabernet, Chardonnay, or building lots all being likely alternatives to the unlikely success story that Bedrock has become. Powerful and solid, like their name implies, one can only hope these wines endure. They offer too much joy, too much simple pleasure, and too much historical importance to be lost and forgotten.
Bedrock Image via Bedrock Vineyards
2011 Bedrock Pagani Ranch Heritage Sonoma Valley 15% $37
A field blend
Quite perfumed on the nose, with assertive aromas of blueberries, smoke, violets and white pepper topped with a hint of smoke and a touch of shale mineral. A little sweet on entry, then showing lovely balance with an attractive freshness to the lightly floral blueberry and spice mid-palate that wears a creamy streak of vanilla like a scarf around the neck. Smooth in texture, with bright acids supporting nicely polished if slightly chunky Petite Sirah character that leads to a long bilberry, violets and black plum finish. This is really lovely, with great freshness to the fruit. 89 points
2011 Bedrock The Bedrock Heritage Sonoma Valley 14.3% $36
60% Zinfandel with the remainder being a blend of 21 grape varieties from the 123 year-old Bedrock Vineyard.
Sweet toasty oak greets the nose followed by brambly fruit, along with notes of grilled meats, hickory nuts, cracked pepper, and sweet tangerine and nectarine fruits wrapped in vanilla. Smooth and polished with very fine acidity supporting assertive Zinfandel fruit. All wild raspberry and blackberry wrapped in wonderfully fresh and nuanced herbal notes. The finish is a bit tight and austere, with distinctly red berry, red currant fruit. This is young but shows good complexity and excellent balance. Already delicious, this should be better by the end of 2013 and drink well into 2017. 91 points
2011 Bedrock Zinfandel Old Vine Sonoma Valley 14.8% $22
Dark, earthy and spicy on the nose, with nuanced sweetness from the oak accenting the dark, sweet black cherry and plum character. With time the oak becomes a touch more obvious, yet it remains very well-balanced. A touch heavy on entry, this is a weighty Zin with super acidic support. The flavors are much like the nose, on the darker, sweeter end of the spectrum with some café au lait notes and lovely bramble notes adding freshness, but the depth and richness of fruit shows through here. The finish too shows a rich plummy quality. Powerful yet a bit monolithic, this might improve over the short term, but probably should be consumed by its fifth birthday. 89 points
2011 Bedrock Evangelho Vineyard Heritage Red Wine 15.2% $30
Approximately 40% Zinfandel, 25% Mourvedre, 15% Carignane, and 10% mixed whites
Complex on the nose and full of spicy nuances that highlight the leather, slightly jammy mulberry and black fruit on the nose that also shows a touch of peachiness. There’s a whisper of oak here, showing up as a smoky note and a light dollop of vanilla. Perhaps a little sweet on entry, this is slightly chewy and very rich, but the fruit is quite fresh with a nice brambly cast to the core of red cherry, currant and pomegranate fruit. Super fresh on the finish, once one gets past the impression of sweetness here there’s superb balance and freshness that makes this a pleasure to drink. The finish is a touch short, but that’s the only knock on this wine. This is drinking well today; enjoy it over the next three years for its exuberant fruit. 91 points
2011 Bedrock Zinfandel Monte Rosso Sonoma Valley 14.4% $39
Savory and spicy on the nose with a lovely blend of nutty undertones and lovely violet and slightly medicinal top notes to the core of dusty blackberry and blackcurrant fruit. Soft and easy going on entry, this is rather broad and low in the mouth. There’s great depth and purity to the black fruit here, and this shows a more stoic, slightly rustic side of Zinfandel, gaining a little herbal nuance with air. A bit tight and promising, this shows off some fine-grained tannins on the fairly long finish. In a way a bit subtle and subdued, this should blossom with another year in the bottle, and drink well through 2019. The more I sit with this the more it reveals and the more impressed with it I become. Be patient with this one. 92 points
2011 Bedrock Zinfandel Saitone Ranch Vineyard Russian River Valley 15% $37
A little creamy on the nose with café au lait elements framing the core of briary, muscular, dry earth inflected blackberry and wild cherry fruit. There’s a lot of spice here as well along with a lovely floral top note. Another wine with the impression of sweetness on entry, this follows it up with bright, lightly leafy bramble, red raspberry and blackberry fruit that fills the mouth. There’s a nervous tension to this wine, a little austerity that adds a mineral element on the palate, and drives some dry tannins through the long finish. A touch rambunctious, this needs a year to settle but probably will be best while the youthful fruit is still front and center buffering the tannins. The finish is tart and red-fruited with a red currant quality to it, but remains a bit raw. Front loaded and perhaps a touch simple. 91 points
2011 Bedrock Zinfandel Papera Ranch Vineyard Russian River Valley 14.6% $39
A bit toasty on the nose with hints of cocoa; hints of juju fruits and dates bring a sweetness here. There’s nice plummy fruit as well, all wrapped up with some vanilla and cigar box oak notes and a touch of pomegranate seed. Smooth and polished, this has a gentle softness to it, very pure and clear on the palate with compelling depth of flavor. More restrained and elegant than some of the other offerings, this draws you in with mineral, subtle oak, and spice nuances that help to frame the core of very fresh raspberry and red currant fruit. There’s a suggestion of sweetness here, but that disappears on the clean, precise, red-fruited finish that shows the tiny light tannins that still manage to carry a touch of refreshing austerity. Just tons of depth to the red fruit here; I would enjoy this over the next three or four years to catch the delicacy of this fruit. Really love the balance and proportions of this wine. 92 points