Beekeeper Cellars, Zinfandel, Hidden Hillside Reserve, Sonoma County, California, 2018
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Overview of the Wine
Beekeeper Cellars is the vision of best friends and co-winemakers Ian Blackburn and Clay Mauritson. The two collaborated after adventurous individual careers in the wine business, and at last, decided to work together on a project of their own.
Clay, a 7th generation grape grower, and his family found themselves the owners of a significant slice of the Rockpile Appellation, through an amazing set of historical land transactions. The Mauritson family realized the potential and parented the creation of the ROCKPILE AVA. In 1998, Ian and Clay climbed the hill and watched the Madrone Spring Vineyard get planted, while discussing the future of Rockpile and the dream it represented.
Beekeeper started with a simple vow: "craft beautiful vineyard expressions from premier vineyard sites, and reintroduce the quality wine audience to Zinfandel.” Today, we continue towards this goal. Our wines are crafted with all the attention to detail of an ultra premium Cabernet; premier vineyards, low yields, careful hand selection of fruit, artisan winemaking, quality focused, not quantity and the expensive use of time in quality French Oak barrels. Because of this meticulous approach and our mission, our wines are built to age. In fact, they require age. We strive to assure our audience that our Zinfandel is a worthy investment and that patience will be rewarded with additional cellarage. Ian, Clay, and day to day winemaker Emma Kudritzki Hall cannot be more excited about sharing their wines for years to come.
In the 1800s, you needed to have a noble profession gain entry into America, and Ian's great grandparents were entertainers “pre” Vaudeville, and that was NOT considered a noble profession…. quite the opposite! His family lived off the land and worked as beekeepers, hunters, farmers… and singing and dancing was part of their life. They took some liberties and said “we are beekeepers” as that was (and still is) a "noble profession." The family “bi-line” was established; “we come from a long line of beekeepers.”
The Madrone Spring Site is Dry Farmed, and CCSF Sustainably Farmed.
Grape / Blend
96% Zinfandel 4% Petite Sirah
56% GT Vineyard, Rockpile, 34% Montecillo Vineyard, 10% Madrone Spring, Rockpile
Winemaker's Tasting Note
2018 and the hits keep coming… another promising Zinfandel vintage in Sonoma County. 2018 had a few significant vintage events: (1) A very warm February caused early bud break, (2) average rainfall, (3) the rest of the season punctuated by hot spells, and (4) we had average temperatures during the growing season—we were not forced to pick by any extreme weather events. It was something normal; we love normal. There are innate qualities to 2018 that offer long term promise of polish and finesse and I think 2018 is very similar to our wonderful 2014 wines that our team loves.
2018 is our largest production career to date; we have been told it was the largest harvest in the history of California. It's not that our vineyards went crazy in yields but really homogeneous ripening, a nice extended (and calm) harvest, and we were able to use ALL our fruit, and yes, it was a generous vintage. Punctuated black fruit skins, purple crayon, dark plum, cracked black pepper, gravel, stone, lovely floral and spice perfume with tender hints of vanilla. Tannins are elevated in our 2018 wines and we embrace this salvo for Zinfandel and we like it. We want our wines to age gracefully and take on a claret like style in time.. a decade or more. Beekeeper wines express the dry farmed hillsides we climb to farm and the Hidden Hillside is a Reserve selection, blending our most ambitious barrels together to make one of our more daring and bold Zinfandel statements, which features approximately 30% newer high-tier French Oak. The elevated acidity from higher elevation hillside fruit ensures that this wine will age gracefully for a decade or more. As usual, the virtue of patience is rewarded with properly aged Beekeeper wines. We also recommend drinking our wines just north of cellar temperature, cooler than most, at around 60 degrees.
95 Points - Jeb Dunnuck
Lastly, the 2018 Zinfandel Hidden Hillside Reserve is a blend of vineyards (56% from the GT Vineyard in Rockpile, 34% from Montecillo, and 10% from Madrone Spring Vineyard). Aged 15 months in French oak, it offers a touch more blue fruits as well as terrific cigar, peppery herbs, orange blossom, spice, and cedar-like aromas and flavors. Medium to full-bodied and wonderfully balanced, with more structure than the other releases, it's another brilliant Zinfandel that can be drunk today or cellared for over a decade.
95 Points - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2018 Hidden Hillside Reserve Zinfandel contains 4% Petite Sirah. Medium ruby-purple, the nose is perfumed and layered, offering scents of blueberry preserves, apricot, licorice, cracked pepper and potpourri. The full-bodied palate is grainy and fresh, with restrained, mineral-driven fruits and a flourish of spicy accents on the long finish. It deserves another year or two in the cellar. 375 cases were made.
94 Points - Purely Domestic Wine Review
The nose is nectarine, mint and blueberry with underlying watermelon and lemongrass. The palate entry is dense blueberry with bright impressions of herb and sticky blackberry in the core finishing with silky dough-like texture to the fresh red plum and dry raspberries. Drink 2022 — 2034.
94 Points - Connoisseurs' Guide
Here, again, is an altogether exceptional effort from Beekeeper that is as deep, keenly defined and well-stuffed as any around, and it, too, exhibits terrific fruity purity despite being emphatically ripe. It is a full and muscular wine that makes no pretense to delicacy, and the slight heat that rises in its tanninfirmed finish is a small price to pay for a wine of such richness. Just like its mate below, it fully deserves to be cellared, and, if perhaps not ultimately as long-lived, it is a guaranteed bet to grow for no fewer than six to eight years and should hold for a good many more.
Product size: 750ml
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