May 25, 2021 15:21
Vines from the turn of the LAST century:
Morelli Lane Vineyard Zinfandel
Ah, if these vines could only talk, the stories they would tell. Perched on top of Stoetz Ridge in western Green Valley, the Morelli Lane vineyard now plays home to less than 2 acres of what was once a larger planting of Zinfandel. When the Duttons leased the property back in the mid-1990s, the vineyard was in sad shape, overgrown and run down, with the fruit enjoyed by the local deer population. They pushed out much of the vines for more economically viable Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but saved the best part at the top of the ridge and began the rejuvenating project, getting the old gnarled Zin back into production.
When they leased the vineyard, they were curious how old the vines were, so they asked the current tenant of the home on site, and the last remaining family member, Vic Morelli. He replied that he used to prune the vines when he was a kid, and they were already old then. He was 95 at the time, meaning the vineyard must have been planted in the late 1800s. The vines have managed to survive through a century of changes, including prohibition. Amazingly, they continue to produce fruit from the 1.8 acres remaining, which we are honored to craft into a very special, cool climate, Pinot-winemaker's elegant Zinfandel.
The 2018 vintage is beautifully plush, leading with aromas of chocolate covered cherries and wild raspberries underlain with violets and baking spices. A fresh brightness tops off the richness, keeping the wine lively. The mouth is sweet and supple, with luscious raspberry compote leading the way, followed by lavender, nutmeg, and white pepper notes. A vibrant and persistent finish carries the flavors to a balanced and complex end.
History comes alive in our van der Kamp Pinot Noir as well. This magical land, located at an elevation of 1,500 feet on a north facing bench of Sonoma Mountain, has a long history of superb cultivation. The site was considered a sacred place by local Native Americans who believe the top of Sonoma Mountain is where the world began, and the van der Kamp family has produced top-quality wine from this vineyard for over four decades. This is one of California's oldest Pinot Noir vineyards, with current plantings from 1952.
Ulysses van der Kamp walks the vineyard daily and embraces his father’s belief that “the best fertilizer for a vineyard is the shadow of the farmer”. These dramatically sloping vineyards are farmed organically, with a focus on environmental sustainability and the unique needs of each individual vine. The patchwork of soil types includes loam with volcanic material and decomposed river bed. The top soil is very thin, leading to a more structured wine and a very unique terroir.
Our 2018 Van Der Kamp Pinot leads with dusky aromas of Bing cherry, plum, and dried sage, along with a perfume of dried purple flowers. With time in the glass, savory/sweet notes of rhubarb and beet join in. In the mouth, it’s robust and sultry, bringing to mind the earth from which it comes. Black cherry is enveloped in spicy sandalwood and black tea, riding on a backbone of tight, fine tannins. The wound-up quality of the wine in its youth lets you know this will be a good cellar option.
Replanting Mill Station Vineyard
As we wrote about last January, Steve has started replanting sections of their Mill Station Chardonnay vineyard. They began the process of tearing out the first block of old vines in late 2018, and have now planted the new vines in the block (sadly, some of the first ones got frosted, so they had to start the process over). With the vines getting to be about 18" tall, it's time to start training the plant along the stake to direct the energy toward the vine's upward growth. Any lower leaves and sprouts are removed to keep the focus of the plant moving up. Click on the picture to hear Steve talk about the process as they tie the baby vine.
The weather has been beautiful to enjoy a tasting on our lovely and relaxing patio. Please make an appointment to visit us soon—we've missed seeing you!
Your friends at DG