Once & Future 2017 Merlot, Sangiacomo Vineyard, Carneros
Item Number: 13305
Sub Region: Sonoma
Estate Grown Wine: No
Vineyard Designation: Sangiacomo Vineyard
Type: Wine - Red
Bottle Size: 750 ml
Alc by Vol(%): 14.6
Soil Type: Shallow gravel clay-loam
Joel made his first Sangiacomo Merlot at Ravenswood in 1989. He learned of this vineyard from Dave Ramey, who had encouraged the Sangiacomo family to plant it for his use at Matanzas Creek. Joel continued to make Merlot from Sangiacomo Vineyard until the early 2000s. Ultimately, Constellation decided that Ravenswood’s focus should be on Zinfandel, not Merlot. At about the same time, Matanzas Creek discontinued its purchase of the Sangiacomo Merlot fruit.
Joel had assumed that the Sangiacomos had pulled all these grapes out and replaced them with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, so he was happily surprised when his son Morgan told him that a section of Merlot still remained on the Kiser Ranch. This block, formerly 13-year-old Riesling vines, was budded to Merlot in 1987 and interplanted to reduce spacing in 1991. The soil is shallow gravel clay-loam, which is ideal for Merlot. Originally, the trellis was a bilateral cordon vertical shoot position set-up. Due to the timing of the Carneros winds, which are frequently coincident with flowering and fruit set, a great deal of shatter resulted in very low crop levels. In some years, this imparted a fairly strong jalapeño character to the grapes. To combat this, the Sangiacomos have added an additional fruiting cane to the system, which increases the crop, bringing it into balance with the canopy and providing more harmonious ripe flavors. The combination of soil, trellising, crop, and canopy management, along with the cool Carneros climate, produces some of the most delicious Merlot in California.
The wine is fermented with indigenous yeast and aged in French oak. Rich fruit, herb, vanilla, and cedar notes lead seamlessly into the lush velvety texture and full cherry berry fruit flavors, accented with hints of tar and mineral. Delicious to drink in the near term, the ripe tannins and bright acidity promise flavor development over the next decade or more.
Vintage Notes: "I am very pleased with these  wines. 2017 was a solid year for Once & Future. It, of course, was the year of the great conflagration in Sonoma. But that occurred well after all my grapes were harvested. The wines have received very good scores from the press that have reviewed the wines thus far." - Joel Peterson
Antonio Galloni, Vinous, May 2019
"Joel Peterson is one of the seminal figures in American wine, and yet he remains incredibly down to earth, with a level of youthful passion and excitement that is great to see. The 2017s are strong across the board, even if some of the wines show the effects of the heat spikes that conditioned the growing season."