The Bedrock 2011 North Coast Syrah and Old Lakeville 2009 Syrah

A lot has been already written about young Bedrock winemaker Morgan Twain-Peterson (some of it by me) and there’s no need to re-hash it all here. It’s time to stop writing about how interesting his story is but to really start evaluating the wines for what they are. And man, are they delicious.

Twain-Peterson’s wines cover a large spectrum, so it’s hard to pinpoint a particular style. His cool-climate Syrahs embody the kind of food-friendly styles that I like but he also has big Zins that are a little over the top for my taste. His whites also vary from bright and clean to rich and complex, and he makes a killer rosé that survived my recent over-saturation and resulting boredom with all rosé. In the end, although it’s a cliché that all winemakers like to use, he seems to be letting the vineyards speak for themselves. If the vineyard tends to produce big and brawny wines, then he celebrates that, yet, if it’s a cooler site then he also celebrates that. Twain-Peterson has said that his goal is to make elegant California wine that shows the variety of the unique terroir that’s present here. This is what he said about his wines in his most recent newsletter:

“As always the wines are made in the simplest possible way: relatively early picking to maximize fruit freshness and natural acids, native yeast fermentations, native malolactic fermentation, limited amounts of the best new barrels I can buy from a range of French coopers, and limited racking. The focus is always to emphasize vineyard and site over heavy-handed winemaking.”

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of Morgan’s new project is that he’s also taken it upon himself, along with his friend, winegrower Tegan Passalacqua, to bring back to life some of California’s oldest vineyards simply by making delicious wine from them. In his latest newsletter, Morgan also shared that after six vintages, he’ll be launching a new winery and has hired his first employee to take over some of the operations of the winery. This is all good news for us, and hopefully the production will increase, making the wines more available for all us regulars.

old lakeville '09

The Old Lakeville Vineyard Syrah has exactly what I love about Petaluma Gap Syrahs, it has a rich mid-palate that’s opulent with fruit but it isn’t over the top. There are sweet berry aromas but also secondary aromas of tobacco, leather, gravel, and black olive. There’s a rich finish of sweet tannins and a fair amount of acidity to balance it all out. It’s not exactly my favorite region for Syrah (the wines are a little rich for my palate) but I think this is a very good example.

north coast

The North Coast Syrah (this vintage’s iteration of last year’s Sonoma Coast Syrah) might be one of the best deals on Syrah out there right now. Sourced from well-known cool-climate vineyards of Alder Springs, Hudson T, and Shanel, the wine is a great balance of body and aromatics. It’s also got a bit of Viognier for good measure. The wine is floral, with notes of licorice and some blackberry, not a ton of savory components but great acidity on the finish. The mid-palate is full and the blackberry carries through from the nose. It’s a beautiful wine, elegant and powerful at the same time and really a great example of what Syrah can and in my opinion should be in California. At $20 I’ll be getting more of this one as long as supplies last.

Bedrock Wines is really one of the more exciting projects out there right now. The wines are all expressive and fruit-driven, not over-oaked, not over-manipulated but balanced and communicative of the vineyards from which they come.