dick vanderkous paradise vineyard
This is a remarkable wine from a vineyard without peer or even close analogs. A cone projects suddenly from the valley floor in Martinez, not far from the San Joaquin delta. The cone looks volcanic-- like a Hollywood volcano. It does not look like a hill-- its slopes are too steep, its peak an abrupt plateau. But it is no volcano; the soil is marine, tied millions of years ago to a sea and its shellfish. Vineyards ring the cone; on the steepest slope, facing north, is Merlot that bears a scant ton or two to the acre. At harvest, which we perfom clinging to the vines for safety, the fruit is painfully intense and this is no exaggeration. The hill does not care that the nursery called the vines Merlot; something else is growing here, a complete expression of the fierce hill and its marine origins.
We made 30 gallons of Merlot fermented by itself; the baby barrel was topped a Merlot/Sangiovese fermentation from another slope of the hill. The wines rich and heady, but with no aromas of blueberry pie or any other fruit. It is a dry, tannic wine-- but that smells of pan forte, roat goose, winter holidays.
The wine is named for the hilltop citadel of Troy.