2014 Carignan, Contra Costa County
With aromas of plum, dried fig, and wild herbs, this wine reveals luscious dark cherry on the palate. Rich notes of caramelized brown sugar and mocha weave the flavors together for a mouthwatering finish both complex and bright.
- Hand harvested September 10, 2014 in the early morning cool
- Five days of cold soaking to enhance color and aromatics
- Fourteen days of whole-berry fermentation in one open-top stainless steel tank
- The cap was punched down by hand two to three times daily for maximum flavor extraction
- Aged for sixteen months in French oak barrels (45% new)
- Racked twice to promote flavor development and help soften tannins
- Final blend determined by a judicious barrel selection
- Lightly filtered before bottling to brighten aromas and polish mouthfeel
George Troquato, Winemaker
Alejandro Aldama, Cellar Master
Each interplanted varietal is hand harvested separately with the grower standing watch and calling out the varietal name of each vine as our crew passes over the rows. This one-of-a-kind planting yields small crops that have a rare degree of color and depth of flavor for Carignan.
Eastern Contra Costa County has been a reputable wine region since the late 1800s. Cool afternoon breezes blowing through the San Joaquin and Sacramento River Delta temper the warm daytime temperatures during the growing season. Soils consist of sandy loams that offer near-perfect drainage. Some blocks of wizened old-vine Zinfandel are over one-hundred years old, but many vineyards have been gradually replanted with Rhone varietals.
Sandy Lane Vineyard overlooks the Delta near the town of Oakley, less than twenty miles from downtown Concord. Deemed "the oldest inter-planted vineyard in California," it was inter-planted with Mourvèdre (aka Mataró), Zinfandel, and Carignan in the early part of twentieth century on St. George rootstock. These ancient head-trained, spur-pruned vines benefit from the cooling effects of the water, and are dry farmed in soils that are as sandy as a beach.
In early 2014, most California winemakers fretted over the possibility of a third consecutive drought year, but ultimately celebrated an outstanding vintage. January brought dry, seasonable temperatures and February saw one storm but the relief was short-lived. Budbreak in March was up to three weeks early while a cool April throttled growth. Bloom in May and berry set in June were favorable as conditions remained warm, clear, and accelerated. Veraison, the onset of ripening, occurred in mid-July; early August was quite warm, but a return to cooler temperatures slowed development and allowed the formation of deep colors and flavors. The early harvest had average-sized yields, but the consistent weather produced stellar wines despite the drought.