I recently received a text from an old-school California collector who passionately pleaded for me to taste the new 2017 vintage from Joel Peterson’s acclaimed estate, Once & Future. For many of California’s biggest enthusiasts, Once & Future has hit a strong emotional cord. The wines represent a homecoming of sorts, a successful farmer turned multi-millionaire returning back to his roots–and the results are spectacular.
Mr. Peterson has spent the last four decades with his Ravenswood label, a journey that began in 1976 with a small, quirky gothic label that allowed him to focus on his love of Zinfandel. In time he saw the company grow to produce over a million cases a year. Once & Future is the return to the original vision Joel had for Ravenswood so many years ago – a small project focusing on wines from unique, ancient vineyards– including some of the original vineyards he started with over forty years ago. All the wines are made in a classic old school tradition, and, as you would expect, not reliant on the easy hooks and obvious flavors that plague many contemporary California wines in this price range. Instead, Mr. Peterson allows his vineyards to do the talking. And talk they do – these are beautifully expressive, self-assured wines whose intensity is spoken through the guidance of one of California’s greatest winemakers. We couldn’t be happier, or more thrilled, for Mr. Peterson’s newest chapter.
2017 Once & Future Mataro Oakley Road Vineyard
“The 2017 Mataro Oakley Road Vineyard from Once & future is pliant, supple and wonderfully expressive today. Soft, silky tannins make it easy to drink. This site, on sandy soils, struggled through the heat events of 2017, and as a result there is a discernible roasted profile to the Mataro.” 88 Points, Vinous
2017 Once & Future Merlot Sangiacomo Vineyard
“The 2017 Merlot Sangiacomo Vineyard is ripe, pliant and super-expressive. Leather, smoke, cedar, tobacco, incense, blackberry and chocolate all emerge over time. The 2017 is bold and racy, and yet it retains aromatic intensity despite its elevated ripeness. This is a decidedly earthy, savory style of Merlot.” 89 Points, Vinous
2017 Once & Future Zinfandel Oakley Road Vineyard
“The 2017 Zinfandel Oakley Road Vineyard handled the rigors of the growing season with more success than the Mataro. Floral notes add lift to the red stone fruit Zinfandel flavors. Silky, aromatically open and inviting, the 2017 has a lot to offer. I would prefer to drink it over the near and medium term.” 90 Points, Vinous
2017 Once & Future Petit Sirah Palisades Vineyard
“The 2017 Petit Sirah Palisades Vineyard is inky, powerful and explosive, as wines from this Calistoga site tend to be. Blue/blackberry jam, licorice, spice, menthol, cloves, black pepper and lavender all run through this unctuous, super-concentrated Petite. The 2017 needs at least a few years to shed some baby fat, but it is impressive, even in the early going.” 93 Points, Vinous
2017 Once & Future Zinfandel Frank's Block Teldeschi Vineyard
“A dark, brooding wine, the 2017 Zinfandel Frank's Block Teldeschi Vineyard offers a super-classic expression of Dry Creek. Black fruit, leather, lavender and spice give the 2017 distinct baritone inflections to match its substantial depth and overall resonance. Readers should plan on being patient.” 94 Points, Vinous
2017 Once & Future Zinfandel Bedrock Vineyard
“The 2017 Zinfandel Bedrock Vineyard is another impressive wine in this range. Red cherry jam, wild flowers, mint and blood orange all run through this polished, absolutely irresistible Zinfandel from Joel Peterson. A kiss of sweetness from the 35% new oak adds well-matched nuance. Tuscan Red Hills–series soils confer palpable textural resonance and breadth to a wine that hits all the right notes.” 94 Points, Vinous