2015 Martin Ray Forchini Vineyard DCV Malbec
After sheer luck and happenstance landed us the opportunity to work with some outstanding Bordeaux varietals from a family owned vineyard in Dry Creek Valley during the previous year's vintage, we leapt at the offer of purchasing the grapes again in lieu of another spectacular growing season. Grown on the gravelly eastern slopes of the valley, sharing the ranch with century-old Zinfandel vines, our small allotment of Malbec sits in full sun, late into the summer evenings, giving it the perfect climate to develop its intense, dark color and rich fruit flavor.
The culmination of factors from another drought year in California surprised us with another wonderful vintage. An unseasonably dry and warm winter, which led to an early spring, forced the vines into bud break during peak frost season. However, the spring weather stayed mild during fruit set and led into a relatively warm summer which hastened ripening to unprecedented early harvest dates. Although the crop, overall, was lighter (and much, much earlier), than we've seen in several years, the outstanding quality of the fruit and resulting wines cannot be understated.
Due to the small amount of fruit we receive, we ferment the lot in larger than standard French oak barrels with the heads removed to act as small, ½ ton open-top fermenters. The puncheons are punched down by hand three times daily during fermentation, then allowed to rest, with minimal cap management for up to three weeks to fully extract the aromatics, flavors and tannins the fruit has to offer. We then gently basket press the lot as a whole and move the wine to 40% new French oak chosen for its nuanced impact to age for 14 months.
This wine is effortlessly pleasing, with a bold, fruit-forward nose of flaky blueberry cobbler, summer blackberries, ripe plums and lilac blossoms; supported by a well-integrated and unobtrusive French oak base of creamy butterscotch and brown sugar. The lush, resolved tannins present this as a phenomenal stand-alone wine, as well as an effortless match for food pairings.