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Wine of the Week: Bedrock Heritage Sonoma Valley Red Wine

Doesn’t it seem that many a great Old World wine, say, a Burgundy from a famed vineyard in Côte de Nuits, no matter what the vintage, or a storied estate in St-Julien, gets credit as much for its provenance as for its taste and finish in a given year?

If that’s true for those vineyards, planted mainly with a small set of grape varieties and many times over in the last century, it should be several times so for the Bedrock Vineyard, a one-of-a-kind historical artifact and working vineyard in the heart of the Sonoma Valley.

Located in Glen Ellen, a few miles to the south of author Jack London’s famous ranch and vineyard, the Bedrock vineyard was founded in 1854—a year before the official Bordeaux classification of 1855, by the way—by two then-would-be entrepreneurs who would in the next decade become famous Civil War generals: Generals William “Tecumseh” Sherman and General “Fightin’ Joe” Hooker. History enough for you?

In 1888, the vineyard was replanted under the ownership of Senator George Hearst, father of William Randolph Hearst.

While there’s no known variety called Rosebud, the vineyard does contain at least 19 different varieties of wine grape that are included in the 2015 Bedrock Heritage Sonoma Valley Red Wine (prices vary, around $48). Based on Zinfandel, the blend may contain “Petite Sirah, Carignane, Mourvedre, Tempranillo, Alicante Bouschet, Valdigue, Peloursin, Serene, Petite Bouschet, Grand Noir de la Calmett,” and what else? Whether by chance, by art, or by tradition, this vineyard was planted as a special blend. It’s a Sonoma County Châteauneuf-du-Pape, in a way, perhaps with even more mystery.

The winemaker at Bedrock is Morgan Twain-Peterson, son of “no wimpy wines” Ravenswood founder Joel Peterson, who kicks it up a notch—albeit a thoughtful, environmentally and historically sensitive, twenty-first century notch—with his winery named after the core vineyard.

And the wine? It’s young, it’s vibrant, it’s graham-cracker toasty and puckery tannic, and probably just now coiling up for more complexity as it ages a few years. But it’s fun, plush drinking now with a platter of strong cheeses (Sonoma County Pepato sheep cheese from Bellwether comes to mind) or grass-fed burgers with blue cheese—and liberal helpings of discussion about the many historical strands of its provenance.

Check out last week's Wine of the Week and more wineries you should know about in Sonoma County