Old Hill Winter

It’s a bleak cold Utah winter and a New Year is firmly on my door.  As always, I spend the first days of a New Year recalling exactly how I failed myself the previous year.  (There is a certain introspective quality to the hangover, you see, one that forces a necessary analysis).   So here I am, compiling lists of business not done and business to be done.

I have learned a great many things in the past year; how to taste for evidence of winemaking chicanery and manipulation, the arbitrary nature of the human palate, the never ending arguments many wine enthusiasts will have over ever finer degrees of filigree and before I know it, the white noise, the static has reached such a dull, mind-numbing roar that it takes a truly compelling wine to snap me back into remembering why I love what I do.

Consider me a drunken Diogenes, searching for that one honest wine.  I could tell you all the tasting note references, tossing off pretentious adjectives willy nilly, but great wine comes from great dirt.  It all begins in the vineyard and with that I humbly offer Bucklin Old Hill Zinfandel 2007 / $24.99.  Sourced from one of California’s most historically significant vineyards, it’s a mystifying mélange of 27 varieties interplanted over 14 acres made into one wine.  The original plantings predate the Civil War.  The vineyard itself is isolated from any main road and finding it is much like stumbling through the closet to Narnia.  It is a quiet and peaceful place occupied by a very very smart farmer and his wife.

Old Hill Winter

Bucklin Old Hill Ranch Zinfandel


I am always enamored of this bottle for a variety of reasons, perhaps most of all are the evocative aromatics.  I’ve always said that the best wines are the ones that remove me from practical professional considerations, wines that make me jelly up in the knees, wines that smell more like a place and a time than they do the usual medley of fruits and spices that I am required to puke up as if on demand when asked for an appraisal.    Its the aromatic memory of an Old Hill Summer that maintains my faith in Art and Dirt through these cold winter months, reminding me that Summer is always and once again, right around the corner like warmth and baseball.

I am not a fan of factory farming or feed lots. Rolling through Winnemuca on my way to harvest 2010 confirmed this as I rolled down my window during a driving rainstorm, hydroplaning my way to Reno, hucking my grilled KFC Double Down out the window.  I know that there is an endless universe of desire for all things flavorless, and I shouldn’t complain that I am indeed fortunate enough to have a roof over my head and 3 squares a day, but there is enough of dulling everyday routine to sully my soul’s remaining real estate.  I am fortunate enough that I can avoid it when it comes to all matters viticultural.  I know what winemaking shortcuts and commercial practices taste like.  I know that it happens; I know that wine is generally a least common denominator money game for the producers.  What keeps me, what sustains me are those producers who do not follow that path.  Cheers –

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