Once & Future Zinfandel 2017, Oakley Road Vineyard, Contra Costa County, California

The soils at Oakley Road vineyard are so sandy that early growers in this region were disparaged as “sandlappers.” Little did those wags 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, unirrigated vines. The micro climate of Oakley allows grapes to ripen early. 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. Unlike most other California Zinfandel vineyards, the fruit is carried relatively low to the ground. The proximity to ground acts as shelter from the wind, which can be moderately intense in the afternoon in Oakley, while reflecting radiated light and heat back on the grapes from the sandy soils. The vineyard has about 10 percent Carignane and Mataro interplanted with the Zinfandel. The sandy soils and the own-rooted vines tend to produce unique, suave, textural characteristics in the wines. The wines have bright, ripe flavors, and are very spicy, with fresh acidity and smooth fine tannins in the finish. The 2017 shows full, rich red and black fruit flavors. Big without being heavy. Very refined astringency.