Hello friends. Since our expansion outside the cozy confines of Pac-NW wines, we’ve steered clear, in large part, from offering California wines. I’ll admit something of a personal bias. I tend to paint with a broad brush and just assume that anything in the warmer parts of Cali we can do in Washington, and anything in the cooler parts of Cali we can do in Oregon, and at better prices to boot.
There are rumblings of some interesting trends down south, perhaps captured best by Jon Bonne (the San Francisco Chronicle wine critic) in his recent book The New California Wine. Bonne focuses there on wineries moving away from high-alc, high-oak, overly-manipulated monsters. It’s a grass-roots movement for now (and will be as long as there’s so much cash to be made from cult Napa Cabernet), but it’s worth tracking, and that’s what we’re doing today.
To sample the “New California Wine,” I wanted to start at a tariff that would be as accessible as possible. And that leads us to Morgan Twain-Peterson, and to Shebang:
NV Bedrock Wine Co. Shebang Cuvee VII Red
(Please note: the thrust of this offer will focus on the red cuvee, but we’ll include a short offer for the white cuvee below as well).
Morgan is a second generation Cali winemaker, the son of Ravenswood founder Joel Peterson (the family sold Ravenswood in 2001). He founded Bedrock Wine Company in 2007, after first trying to escape his winemaking roots (he’s notorious for making the Vino Bambino Pinot Noir as a five-year-old) by studying history and American studies at Vassar and then at Columbia, and then accepting the gravitational pull of winemaking, returning to California in 2005. I’ll try not to hold it against him that he is both a) younger than me; and b) further along in his Master of Wine studies.
Bedrock Vineyard is the heart of Bedrock Wine Company. That site was planted in 1854 and then had to be replanted in 1888 post-phylloxera. Morgan makes single-vineyard wine from that site and other historical vineyards under the Bedrock label, and those have achieved huge acclaim (including some glowing recent reviews in Wine Spectator).
And then he also makes Shebang, a multi-vintage multi-vineyard blend whose base is, amazingly enough, Bedrock Vineyard fruit as well. The blend is predominantly Zinfandel and Grenache, but there’s a dash of the famous California “mixed blacks” as well, likely some Alicante Bouschet, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Carignan, et al. It’s vinified for early drinkability, essentially a modern and high-quality homage to the old California jug wines. Mostly done in stainless steel, and 15% in oak, it clocks in right around 14% alc.
The project first picked up steam with Cuvee IV, when Antonio Galloni finished his review with this: “[TEXT WITHHELD].” Then Robert Parker himself reviewed Cuvee VI, scoring it 90pts and calling it an “[TEXT WITHHELD].” In The New California Wine, Jon Bonne called Shebang “[TEXT WITHHELD].”
Let me just say: when you have Galloni, Parker, and Bonne agreeing on something, it’s time to buy.
I’m crazy about this as a summer BBQ wine or just a mid-week house wine. It has surprising aromatic complexity for the tag, offering a core of brambly Zinfandel raspberry fruit complemented by tomato leaf and kelpy marine notes. Ripe and juicy, spicy and savory, and super Zin-brambly, this almost goes down too easily. Served at cellar temperature, this is just perfect for a picnic or for firing up the grill. If this is the New California, I’m in.
NV Bedrock Wine Co. Shebang Cuvee II White
And a little bonus white. It’s 60% Pinot Gris from the Mokelumne River AVA in Lodi originally planted in 1915, rounded out with Muscadelle, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma. Native yeast fermented and aged in 60% stainless and 40% neutral French oak, it clocks in at 13.7% listed alc and begins with a nose of peach, orange peel, and lightly oxidized raw almond notes. Medium-bodied, with a pleasingly waxy texture, it offers flavors of fig and almond to go with citrus and stone fruit. Despite a high proportion of Pinot Gris, it’s the Semillon that dominates the flavor profile for me. The balance of fleshy/oily texture and firm acidic backbone is wonderful. This is full of character and personality.
First come first served up to 24 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and the wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.