2016 Once & Future Zinfandel Forcini Vineyard Russian River Valley
Joel Peterson’s Once & Future project might more appropriately be called Back To The Future as the co-founder of the iconic Ravenswood winery has returned to his roots- the business of working with California’s oldest vineyards to craft wines that show the class of these old sites and a winemaking approach that harkens back to Zinfandel’s heyday as well. He’s chosen a stable of old favorites, vineyard like Sangiacomo, Teldeschi, Bedrock and others he’s worked with many times over the decades to create small amounts of exquisite expressions of these very special places. And even though he is making Petite Sirah and even Merlot from these old vines, we all know that it was Zin that brought Joel to the dance and Zin that he does oh-so-well. Take his miniscule production of Forcini Vineyard Zin, for example.
The site, just south of Limerick Lane on the far southern part of the Russian River Valley appellation, was planted around 1900 to mostly Zinfandel, but, like most other vineyards from this era, there’s also Negrette, Petite Sirah, Carignane, Alicante and a few other varieties interplanted there as well. He ferments the grapes- all harvested and crushed together- on their own native yeasts in small open fermenters, punches them down by hand and ages them in French oak, around 30% of which were new. It’s as easy a way to make as there is and, when tasted together with the other wines he makes, you get a great sense of place for each one. Forcini has, perhaps, the brightest acidity of his whole lineup but because the vineyard is in the warmest part of the appellation, there’s lots and lots of oomph as well. Like most the 2016s we’ve tried, it’s long on depth and perfectly balanced. A real triumph from someone that knows a bit about Zin!