Once & Future 2019 Mataro, Oakley Road, Contra Costa County
Item Number: 16396
Sub Region: Central Coast
Appellation/AVA: Contra Costa County
Estate Grown Wine: No
Vineyard Designation: Oakley Road Vineyard
Grape(s): 100% Mataro
Type: Wine - Red
Bottle Size: 750 ml
Alc by Vol(%): 14.4
Viticulture: Practicing Organic
Soil Type: Sand
Case Production: 195
Winemaking Notes: All the wines from the 2019 vintage have been made in the traditional Once & Future wine style: small open-topped redwood fermenters, full destemming, no berry sorting, indigenous yeast, hand punch down of the cap, indigenous malolactic fermentation, and aging in French oak on the yeast with variable amounts of new barrels, depending on the character of the wine. The wines were bottled with no fining or filtration. In short, this is very simple, traditional winemaking that relies on the unique aspects of the vineyard to define the flavor, nature, and quality of the wine. The goal here is not to make a good-flavored beverage, though these wines taste very good; it is to give the drinker a sense of the vintage and place that formed the flavors in these wines. These 2019 wines are bright and juicy on the palate with a strong spine of acid and tannin.
Terroir Notes: The soils at Oakley Road Vineyard are so sandy that early growers in this region were disparaged as "sandlappers." Little did they know that the delta sands, with their Phylloxera inhibiting properties, would be the key to the survival of some amazing 100-plus-year-old, own-rooted, non-irrigated vines. The micro climate of Oakley allows grapes to ripen early. It is not so much that it is hot during the growing months—the average temperature is about 74 degrees with the nights in the 50s and the days in the 90s during the month of July and August—but that the sandy soils warm earlier in the year than most other areas in California, and vine growth starts sooner. As the season progresses, the grapes continue to ripen consistently in spite of the cooling maritime winds from the Carquinez straits, due to the reflected sun from the Antioch sandy soils.
The resulting wines can be, in a word, graceful. The combination of own roots, old vines, deep sandy soils, and cooling afternoon breezes seems to encourage gentle, suave wines. Some winemakers like to make big, powerful, dark wines from these grapes; Joel believes the wines are much more enjoyable, interesting, complex, and finer when picked earlier.
These Oakley Road vines may not be around much longer. This part of Contra Costa is changing rapidly. It has been an industrial backwater for a long time. High tension electrical lines, a PG&E power plant, and motels that rent by the hour stand in contrast to an inordinate number of churches and an increasing reality of fast food restaurants that populate a disjointed human landscape. There is increasing urbanization as roads are widened and BART pushes east. Many of these vineyards are for sale with inflated land prices, having been designated as commercial land—the result being land costs that are more compatible with strip malls than farming. For now, the vines remain in the ground, producing viticultural treasure. And for now, Joel continues to make lovely wine.
About Mataro: Mourvedre, the famous grape of Bandol, is known by the name Mataro in California. The Mataro grape has been planted in California since the 1870s, mostly as an adjunct in blends that were Zinfandel dominated. Though scarce, Mataro is an exceptional standalone grape in a few places. One of those is Oakley. The climate conditions are perfect for slow ripening grapes like Mataro. The smoky, soft cherry, plum flavors are well developed and full, with the acid perfectly balanced and the tannins soft and round.