Mr. Beast, our flagship red wine and the reason we are known for our zinfandel, is back after being sold out for way too long. We guess the secret is out – last year we released the previous vintage of this wine in October and it barely lasted four months! 11 years ago we named our zinfandel after our wiley and now notorious cat and put the wine to market. The name stuck, and the wine continues to impress. Dry farmed and organically grown, our zinfandel comes from the Sleeping Dog vineyard of Sonoma Mountain, which produces spicy, elegant, and finessed Sonoma County style zinfandel from a mixture of volcanic and sandy loam soils. These are old head pruned vines planted over 55 years ago, and the flavors they are capable of are outstanding.
2017 will forever be a vintage marked by two major events: the devastating wild fires in Sonoma and Napa counties and the record breaking heat spike on labor day weekend. Thankfully we had all of our fruit harvested before the wildfires began. While everything else during that season was horrible and traumatic, our wines didn’t suffer any smoke taint. The heat spike had way more effect on wine quality in Sonoma County than anything else. While the rest of summer was pretty mild, temperatures were a record busting 112+ degrees for three days in early September, sending winemakers into a panic and grape growers leaning heavily on their irrigation systems. Extreme heat causes sugars to spike in grapes and leads to sunburn on grapeskins, flabby acidity, and raisining. Many under-ripe grapes were harvested by jumpy winemakers who feared the heat would completely destroy the vintage. We were definitely panicked, but some sage advice from more level headed colleagues in the industry convinced us to delay our harvest. If vineyards did wait to harvest past the infamous hot weekend: they experienced a drastic cool down and a much more calm and controlled ripening season. The heat had pumped up sugars and fruit flavors, but the drastic temperature swing shocked the vines, froze acidity in place, and forced grapes to actually lose sugar levels as the plants settled into the colder temperatures. There was still excellent potential for quality: the real work was on the vineyard.
The sun had fried a ton of grapes on this vineyard (literally- we lost a ton of fruit that was rendered useless), and we had to sort like crazy when harvest finally came in mid September. Hand sorting on the vineyard and in the winery was fast and furious, but very thorough. We dropped an insane amount of subpar fruit and zeroed in on the clusters we wanted to keep. Yield was way down but the quality was there. An excellent wine was made: one with a bigger texture and more fruit flavor than people might be used to from Mr. Beast, but not in a lush or sweet way. It is still an elegant and classic old vine mountain zinfandel! Layers of brooding raspberry and blackberry flavors give way to a slightly tannic finish of briary pepper spice. As always, bottled unfined and unfiltered after being aged in 20% new American oak barrels. Our flagship wine is very versatile: perfect with a cheeseburger or saucy American BBQ, as well as slow cooked meats, spicy curries, or pasta. One of our all time favorite pairings was during a multi course Barber Cellars restaurant event: Mr. Beast with squid ink pasta and clams. It was amazing!