The 2011 growing season was an extremely cool year for us. Not a single day was over 100o the whole season, which we have never experienced before. Normally a cool season might be a disaster for the late ripening Rhone varieties we grow, but, and this is why I am so blessed to be a grape grower on the Central Coast of California, the weather was mild and without rain that Fall. When the end of October rolled around in 2011 and most of our fruit was still on the vine, I was more than a little worried to say the least! It is not uncommon to get some rain in late October, and since we hadn't even started to pick, I had reason to be fearful. Thankfully the mild weather held perfectly and we were able to harvest fully mature fruit throughout November. Yes, November! Most of our fruit came in between Halloween and Thanksgiving, very crazy. So what does this mean for the wine that resulted from the extremely cool, late season? Well, it is a little lighter in color, but still quite dark, and a little lower in alcohol, but still comparatively weighty. The aromatics are what I find magical on this set of wines, the cool temperatures kept them amazingly fresh and ethereal. Definitely on the spice side as opposed to the fruit aspect that we normally see more of in a warmer year. In the cellar I tried to respect this character of the 2011 vintage. We used a little more whole cluster fermentation to soften the tannins and increase the spiciness and we cut down on the amount of new oak we would normally use to let the spice shine through even more. We also increased the amount of concrete aging vessels we use to really bring it all home with an exclamation point! I really like them, and I think they will be fascinating wines to follow over the next 20 years!
Beautifully done, and probably the most elegant, seamless version of this cuvee I've tasted, the 2011 Booker Vineyard offers terrific aromas and flavors of liquid violets, sappy underbrush, smoked , exotic spices and plenty of crushed rock-like minerality that are all carried by layers of sweet cassis and black raspberry. There's a northern Rhone-like character here, but it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, fantastic mid-palate concentration, and a seamless, layered and multi-dimensional mouthfeel that's hard to resist. Made from 67% Syrah and 33% Mourvedre and aged in 300- and 350-liter hogsheads (and fermented with varying degrees of whole cluster), this beautifully pure, polished and complex effort will benefit from short-term cellaring and have over 15 years of overall longevity.