In the latter part of the 19th century, Europe's vineyards were overwhelmed by a pest called Phylloxera, only to be saved by a Phylloxera-resistant American graft. Then, in the 1960s, American vintners started planting a highly productive rootstock called AxR1 (trying to reduce cost so as to convert beer drinkers into wine drinkers!) despite warnings from the French as to the rootstock's susceptibility to Phylloxera. By the beginning of the 1980s, Napa and Sonoma's vineyards were ravaged just as the European vineyards had been a century before. But, Phyllloxera likes heavy soil, and doesn't take well to the light sand of Contra Costa, east of the San Francisco Bay. As a result, a handful of vineyards, all planted by Italian immigrants before the turn of the 19th century, survived.
When we first met Matt Cline in the late 1980's, he had just begun making wine at Cline Cellars. As commercial acclaim allowed Cline Cellars to grow from ten thousand cases in the early 1990's to over 300,000 cases in 2001, Matt found himself spending less time in the vineyards he loved and more time making master blends of large production commercial cuvees. He decided to start over, going back to Oakley and to a few other small, old vine vineyards he'd discovered over the years, forming Trinitas Cellars with his wife Erin, in 2001.
Always fascinated by his family history, Matt looked first in his 'back yard' when sourcing grapes. Matt's grandfather, Valeriano Jacuzzi, was one of the first Italian settlers to plant grapes around the turn of the century in Contra Costa County, east of the San Francisco Bay. He discovered that his grandfather's 30 acres as well as hundreds of acres of other immigrant families were virtually in tact, and largely undiscovered by the North Coast wineries.
These vineyards, largely undisturbed by Phylloxera, produced gnarly, head-trained plants with large thick trunks. Matt, along with Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon, was a pioneer of the appellation, and procured contracts for the tiny quantities of the most concentrated, nuanced fruit in California. While Bonny Doon eventually outgrew the utility of the vineyards' small production, Cline stuck with it, producing startling, terrifically concentrated reds.
The Trinitas Old Vine Petite Sirah 2004 is drawn from a vineyard that is on the southeast side of Lodi, this 50-year-old vineyard produces some of the highest quality Petite Sirah in the world. Benefiting from an early flowering and a longer, more moderate growing season, this is an explosive, purple/black red wine that is at once fabulously concentrated, balanced and vibrant. Effusive blue fruits aromas are framed by an earthy elegance. Incredibly dense and rich, but with the big ripe tannins needed to balance the richness without astringency. Drink now for the primary fruit explosiveness or age for up to 7 years.
Powerful and explosive fruit makes this Petite Sirah the perfect companion for hearty grilled or broiled meats. Pair with peppercorn-rubbed grilled rib-eyes and rich, mashed potato.