122 Years and Counting: 2010 Bedrock Heirloom

Posted by Chris Cottrell

122 Years and Counting
2010 Bedrock Wine Co. "Bedrock Heirloom"

"Ravenwood's renowned Joel Peterson must be proud of what his son, Morgan, has achieved with the Bedrock Wine Company in such a short period of time. These wines continue to provide super-impressive quality at realistic prices." - Robert Parker

Today, California gets very complex.

Or, to look at it another way, today we are simply returning to a complexity that's been overlooked for 100+ years. With this offer we study, we try to honor, a key part of California's viticultural history that's been overwhelmed by the market domination of Cabernet.

Today we embrace the cultural history, the wild complexity, the deliciousness of the field blend. As Joel Peterson, founder of Ravenswood, has pointed out: "Field blends would be California's main wine if it wasn't for Prohibition. The field blend is a topic whose time has come."

From a vineyard that is over 150 years old, from vines that are themselves 122 years old(!), today we proudly offer a wine that could originate nowhere else.

A photo taken in 1887 from General George Hooper's Estate where you can see Bedrock Vineyard and the famed Monte Rosso in the background

Bedrock Wine Co.'s 2010 "Bedrock Heirloom" is a field blend based on Zinfandel, California's most historic and distinct grape. Yet, also in the chorus here are a number of grapes that add complexity, detail and depth to the wine: Carignan, Mourvèdre, Syrah and many more. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts and truly, there is a nuance here that a straight Zin could only dream of.

The Bedrock Heirloom is rife with exotic spice, with deep red fruits and notes of orange oil. This is powerful and concentrated while still maintaining an elegant spine of acidity and core of iron minerality.

This truly is a singular, historic wine... and yet it's only through the capricious luck of history that this vineyard even still exists.

Prohibition did irreversible damage to California's wine industry, setting it back decades. After Prohibition, as the commercial wine industry began to recover and then ultimately thrive, the focus quickly shifted to single-varietal wines while chaotic, unique, low-yielding field blend vineyards were torn up to make room for more "noble" varieties. They were (and remain) simpler for consumers to understand, and viticulture is easier to mechanize when you have high-yielding single varieties. Thus we have the California that most people know, the California of straight Cabernet, or Pinot Noir, or Chardonnay...

But the landscape looked much different in the mid-19th century. The original land grant map filed with the courts by General Joe Hooker in the 1850s (below) showed only promise. Planting many varieties in the vineyard was a hedge originally, providing insurance that each year, no matter what Mother Nature threw at you, a wine of quality and depth could be produced.

The original land grant map filed with the courts by General Joe Hooker in the 1850s.

General "Fightin' Joe" Hooker and Generals William "Tecumseh" Sherman first planted vines here in 1855. In 1888 Senator George Hearst, father of the famous publisher William Randolph Hearst, replanted the vineyard after the phylloxera epidemic. It is from these 122-year-old vines that the Bedrock Heirloom is produced. This is a bottle of history.

While a huge part of California's viticultural heritage was lost, there remain a handful of these treasure-trove sites. Producers like Carlisle, Turley, Ravenswood, Ridge and Bedrock have done tremendous amounts to not only save these vineyards, but to produce wines from them that couldn't be made anywhere else in the world.

In the case of the Bedrock Wine Co. "Bedrock Heirloom," history has a good future. This wine is drinking well today - with a good decant this will make a truly excellent wine to serve with some Bryan Flannery steaks (I recommend the Jorge cut or rib cap). Still, with a few years in the cellar the wine will reveal so much more nuance as each varietal comes around in harmony, so be sure to cellar a few bottles to enjoy in the decade to come, too.

Only 400 cases of Bedrock's Heirloom were made - most is sold directly to the Bedrock mailing list. We have secured a healthy tranche, but it will not last.

To order, please click below, email us offers@crushwineco.com or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Chris Cottrell
Specialist, Fine & Rare Wine
Crush Wine & Spirits

Bedrock Wine Co. The Bedrock Heirloom