In our region the 2003 growing season produced an unusually low crop. This natural occurrence promotes intense aromas and flavors in the fruit. Because each vine has a limited storehouse of color, flavor and texture, the light crop allowed deep concentration of character in fewer grapes. The small berries hung in loose, open clusters, penetrated by sunlight to produce dark color and full flavors.
A classic example of the effect of vintage on wine, the low crop load revealed to me certain qualities of the cool Sonoma Coast terroir. The 2003 grapes emphasized deep, red fruit aromas and flavors, with Royal Ann cherry and blackberry in the foreground, complemented by a finely-edged quality of minerality.
Ripe fruit, captured and protected by gentle winemaking, forms the core of this wine. Aging ten months in French oak barrels added delightful aromas of vanilla, spice and smoke to a foundation of deep, crushed berry. I find the flavors intense and focused, evoking the pleasures of fresh fruit coulis. Weight, density and balance give the wine a sleek, firm structure. Its layered flavors and ample, smooth tannins make the wine a candidate for cellaring, or for enjoying now with rich dishes such as roasted duck with rhubarb-berry compote.