Solid ruby out to an abrupt edge of miniscule clear. Warm spicy goodness, redolent in cinnamon, nutmeg and carmelized sugar, an eensy bit of barnyard barely making a showing and hard to find. It’s all just big ripeness teetering on flabby and not particularly complex.

Everyone knows Ravenswood flamed out horribly in the late 90’s, steering the products away from the stalwart THREE R’S OF ZINFANDEL into corporate extraction and hi-alcohol bullshit–and all us huge California Zinfandel fans wept and moved away. Now Joel Peterson has a new project, and I encourage everyone to go to the Once & Future website and READ the mission statement posted. It is purity of winemaking in several sentences and represents a movement BACK to Joel’s original goals of native, heritage-vine, low-intervention wines showing PLACE and FOUNDATION without the lowest-common-denominator extraction and hi-alc his original brand has been hobbled with.

In the mouth, clean clear icy stream, edge and burn and spice curling the sides of the tongue–a rich extraction FAR more complex than the nose–writhing in wet leather and pie-spice with the sharp bite of deep cherry fruit battling early tannin influence. Old vine pruniness never is visible, rather the consternation of old-vine glowering shames all the young bucks into submission. At 70° there is the inclination to flabbiness, but at 65° all things are clear and focused, fruit on 11 and structure following suit. Mellow, rich tannins complete, but the real star here is the fruit, far off in the long finish.

2016 ONCE & FUTURE Mataro Oakley Road Vineyard Contra Costa County California 14.5

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