Once & Future 2018 Mataro, Oakley Road, Contra Costa County
Item Number: 14506
Sub Region: Central Coast
Appellation/AVA: Contra Costa County
Estate Grown Wine: No
Vineyard Designation: Oakley Road Vineyard
Type: Wine - Red
Bottle Size: 750 ml
Viticulture: Practicing Organic
Soil Type: Sand
Vintage Notes by Vinous 4/2020: "I was super-impressed with the 2018s from Joel Peterson's Once & Future. The 2018s are wonderfully vibrant, focused and full of character. In many ways, Peterson has returned to his roots from his early days at Ravenswood. The wines are made in open-top wood fermenters and handled minimally in the cellar. Quality is really driven by site, and no one knows these vineyards better than Joel Peterson. His boyish enthusiasm and humility are truly remarkable for someone who has had such a long and illustrious career. I can't recommend these wines highly enough." - Antonio Galloni
Joel's Tasting Notes: Luscious, ripe raspberries and plums with hints of smoke, earth and spice. This may be the best, most pleasing Mataro to date.
Terroir Notes: The soils at Oakley Road Vineyard are so sandy that early growers in this region were disparaged as "sandlappers." Little did they know that the delta sands, with their Phylloxera inhibiting properties, would be the key to the survival of some amazing 100-plus-year-old, own-rooted, non-irrigated vines. The micro climate of Oakley allows grapes to ripen early. It is not so much that it is hot during the growing months—the average temperature is about 74 degrees with the nights in the 50s and the days in the 90s during the month of July and August—but that the sandy soils warm earlier in the year than most other areas in California, and vine growth starts sooner. As the season progresses, the grapes continue to ripen consistently in spite of the cooling maritime winds from the Carquinez straits, due to the reflected sun from the Antioch sandy soils.
The resulting wines can be, in a word, graceful. The combination of own roots, old vines, deep sandy soils, and cooling afternoon breezes seems to encourage gentle, suave wines. Some winemakers like to make big, powerful, dark wines from these grapes; Joel believes the wines are much more enjoyable, interesting, complex, and finer when picked earlier.
These Oakley Road vines may not be around much longer. This part of Contra Costa is changing rapidly. It has been an industrial backwater for a long time. High tension electrical lines, a PG&E power plant, and motels that rent by the hour stand in contrast to an inordinate number of churches and an increasing reality of fast food restaurants that populate a disjointed human landscape. There is increasing urbanization as roads are widened and BART pushes east. Many of these vineyards are for sale with inflated land prices, having been designated as commercial land—the result being land costs that are more compatible with strip malls than farming. For now, the vines remain in the ground, producing viticultural treasure. And for now, Joel continues to make lovely wine.
About Mataro: Mourvedre, the famous grape of Bandol, is known by the name Mataro in California. The Mataro grape has been planted in California since the 1870s, mostly as an adjunct in blends that were Zinfandel dominated. Though scarce, Mataro is an exceptional standalone grape in a few places. One of those is Oakley. The climate conditions are perfect for slow ripening grapes like Mataro. The smoky, soft cherry, plum flavors are well developed and full, with the acid perfectly balanced and the tannins soft and round.