Once & Future 2018 Merlot, Sangiacomo Vineyard, Carneros
Item Number: 14509
Sub Region: Napa Valley
Appellation/AVA: Los Carneros
Estate Grown Wine: No
Vineyard Designation: Sangiacomo Vineyard
Type: Wine - Red
Bottle Size: 750 ml
Soil Type: Shallow gravel clay-loam
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: The wine is fermented with indigenous yeast and aged in French oak. Aromatics of ripe plums and cassis with hints of cedar lead to a bright flavorful energetic finish in this lovely well-balanced cool climate Merlot.
About Sangiacomo Vineyard: 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.