records the library of wines
400_bechold_with_scholium_sign
 
  the Fall 2017 release

It is the acme of our year, beginning and ending together at once.
We are preparing the winery for harvest; we have visited the vineyards in the East for the first time since Winter; and we are assembling the blends (and designing the new labels) for our botting in three weeks.

Here are the wines that we will bottle on August 25. You may purchase them here.

2015 LOST SLOUGH VINEYARD SPEAR-DIN

100% juice-fermented Verdelho from Lost Slough in the Delta.
This is a very special wine. We harvested a lot of Verdelho in 2015 from Lost Slough. And then the next year, we lost the vineyard to a behemoth. We do not know when we will get it back. We harvested some of the fruit about 5 days earlier than usual for Blowout, for more lightness and higher acidity. We harvested the rest at full ripeness, but not high sugar, and made Naucratis in the normal way-- fermented and aged in a single stainless steel tank. At bottling, we knew that the wine was so good that we segregated a barrel from the tank and let it age for another 17 months. We tasted the wine at the beginning of August and found that it showed everything that is excellent (and truly unexpected) in our wines from Lost Slough: it is powerful, dense, and serious. It has good acidity and pronounced minerality. It tastes just as it should-- like an older bottle of Naucratis, but with complete freshness and only increased seriousness, not decrepitude. Since the Tour of the Northern Lands, I have been thinking about Beowulf a lot; this wine is named for the Anglo-Saxon kenning for "battle."

2016 FARINA VINEYARD LA SEVERITA DI BRUTO

100% Sauvignon Blanc from Farina on Sonoma Mountain.
We need to figure out how to celebrate this wine more! The wine has the capacity to be immediately stunning and long-lived in every single vintage. In 2015, the wine took more than a year to ferment again. It was only 3 weeks before the scheduled bottling that we decided to include it. Even on July 1, it was still too far from finished to bottle! But then somehow, magically and invisibly, the wine finished fermentation and became clear in the month that we left it alone.
For the first time ever, we began to involve skin-maceration in the making of this wine. This year, we foot-treaded the fruit on harvest day and let it macerate in the cool for 48 hours before fermentation started, and then pressed it quickly and gently. No sensible tannin passed into the juice; in fact, even we cannot trace the effect of the skins. The wine is deep and long, with a kind of smoky minerality. We think that it will age superbly.

2016 VANDERKOUS SOLITUDE VINEYARD PERGAMOS BLANC

100% Chardonnay from the rocky hillside of the Solitude Vineyard in Martinez.
We harvested Chardonnay for the first time from Dick Vanderkous' amazing vineyard in Martinez. Only a few hundred pounds of thick-skinned, well-ripened, small-berried fruit. We pressed it with our hands, filled a 15 gallon barrel and left it alone. It is intense, minerally, and betrays its crazy origin. The wine is deep and strong. It is not quite recognizable as Chardonnay, and we did not make it in the same highly oxygenated style that we use for our other Chardonnays. The wine is still dense, but lighter and fresher than the Sylphs and Michael Faraday. Very special. 72 bottles.

2015 GUMAN VINEYARD THE SYLPHS

100% Chardonnay from the venerable Guman Vineyard in Napa.
Fruit was scarce in the Gumans' vineyard again in 2015: we harvested less than a ton of the old vine Chardonnay, and have made only 450 bottles of wine.
The wine is very pure in this vintage; it is more like Meursault than Arbois, in spite of its sustained exposure to oxygen in barrel. It very complex and long, with kind of gravelly minerality. It is neither fruity nor buttery, completely dominated by secondary characteristics. Destined for long maturation in bottle.

2016 FARINA VINEYARD PRINCE IN HIS CAVES

This an especially delightful vintage of the Prince! The wine is so light in color that it looks like a Chablis-- not a skin-fermented Sauvignon! We are surprised because we did nothing differently this year-- the winemaking was the same as it has been nearly every year since 2010: 100% whole cluster, from Farina, harvested about two weeks after LSB; no destemming, with the fruit crushed by foot when it arrives at the winery, fermentation in wooden puncheons for 3 weeks, with a little maceration post-fermentation. The wine is light only in color-- it is still utterly powerful in both aromatics and in the mouth. This is perhaps the most graceful vintage of the Prince. It is utterly distinctive; as powerful as any vintage of this wine, and as elegant as the very best. The tannins are subtle but present; the acidity is good; the wine is long and complex. But elegance and grace are what characterize it most. We have seen something similar in 1MN--as if it were a vintage characteristic that somehow affected vineyards as distant as Lodi and the Sonoma Coast. So interesting. We think that you will love the wine, but we also feel sure that if you know the wine, you will look twice at the glass as you first pour it.

2016 BECHTOLD RANCH 1MN

Superb! The acme of this wine. Very much like the 2016 Prince, we feel that we have never experienced a similar conjunction of absolute grace and power in this wine. Like the Prince, it is lighter in color than usual. But it is also lighter in body-- the wine is weightless and has the light agility of ballet dancer. Yet it is utterly complex and long. It is a perfect example of how lightness in a red wine is not necessarily at the expense of power or depth-- and, even more important to us-- how power need not interfere with transparency and grace. !00% Cinsault from vines planted on their own roots 140 years ago; 100% whole-cluster; fermented in puncheon with the Courier protocol of undisturbed floating cap, for nearly 4 weeks. Then aged without interference or intervention for 12 months in neutral oak. In spite of its lightness, the wine will age well and long. Think not Lodi, but Volnay.

2016 KIRSCHENMANN RANCH FTPZ

We have had the honor to work with Tegan Passalacqua's centennial Kirschenmann vineyard since 2011, but this vintage of red wine from the vineyard is the first in which we have succeeded in expressing the majesty of the site. For the first time, we have caught the very distinctive fruit character of Zinfandel, without making a wine that is fruity, or in any way recalls the super-ripe and rich Zinfandels that became ubiquitous in another era. This wine is light but fresh and pungent; like the 1MN, it is made with the Courier protocol of a floating cap. The vineyard ripens slowly but with great freshness and high acid; we have caught both of these characteristics without any of the distracting artifacts of fermentation. Super wine, so characteristic of its origin.

You may order these wines here