A Visit to Bedrock Vineyard: No Wimpy Wines II

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At Bedrock Vineyard: It’s raining and the vines are happy.

The recent rain storm in the Bay Area didn’t keep Chris Cottrell from hosting a tasting session out in the middle of Bedrock Vineyard the other day in Sonoma. It was wet, wetter than either of us expected, as we hunkered down under an event tent which didn’t really help against the driving sideways rain. Undaunted, we tasted through some of the recently bottled 2012 wines. I shivered through a gorgeous, yet cold, Sauvignon Blanc that Chris seemed more prepared for with his warm hat and beard. My shivers finally stopped as we worked our way through the reds.

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Chris is not bothered by the rain. 

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One of the oldest Syrah vines in California in Bedrock’s mixed varietal home vineyard.

Bedrock Wine Company has not given in to the recent trend towards low alcohol wines, in the tradition of Morgan’s father’s “No Wimpy Wines” campaign of the 1980s these are bold and brash reds. Morgan doesn’t pick just to keep the wines under a certain alcohol level and he believes in embracing California’s sunny climate. The 2012 vintage was a sunny one that offered ample opportunity to reach optimum ripeness. In fact I wondered if I was perhaps jumping the shark for my blog on restrained cool-climate Syrah when I looked at alcohol levels that rested in the upper 14s. But the truth is, while they are bold, these are also balanced wines in their own way. No, they’re not restrained but there’s good acidity and freshness there.
2012 Hudson T & S 14.8 % ABV

This wine is big fruit epitomized. I got less of the meaty, bacon side of this particular Hudson Vineyard but it’s possible that these will develop as the wine develops in the bottle. This wine has a full and rich mid-palate that’s characteristic of the vineyard. It’s a blueberry, fruity Syrah at the moment but it’s still fresh on the palate. There are tannins present on the finish.

Interestingly, Hudson used to be the coolest-climate Syrah vineyard in California but now it’s the warmest site that Bedrock works. That’s probably the result of a combination of two things: 1.) that global warming has been responsible for a general warming of the area and 2.) our idea of where Syrah is grown has also changed through the years and we now see it grown next to pinot in the far reaches of the Sonoma Coast.
2012 Alder Springs Syrah 14.7% ABV

I tasted this wine in barrel last year and boy was it a tannic bomb. I guessed that it would have calmed down a bit but it’s still a big boy with a mouth-puckering finish. It’s got some beautiful fresh fruit though. There’s some alcohol coming through but in general the wine’s individual parts work well together. I’ll be very interested to see how these wines develop over time.

Alder Springs is really a benchmark vineyard for Syrah in California and I’ve had both cool-climate and warmer climate styles from here. This one is in between, it’s big and fruity but retains a fresh and structured mid-palate. Anything but jammy.

In general, even though these wines are pushing what I thought was my alcohol level limit for Syrah, I think they are representative of a warm 2012 vintage. And they’re far from wimpy. Chris said that the 2013 vintage is a tad more restrained.

I love checking in with Bedrock’s treatment of Syrah, they are bigger styles than I normally appreciate but there’s that freshness and structure to the mid palate. One last thought: It’s possible that the high percentage of whole cluster in the wine might be the reason for the high acidity in the wines which help retain some of that mid-palate structure. The issue of whole cluster is one that I want to delve into more.

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