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Diamond Creek Vineyards

diamond-creek-vinerads.jpgDiamond Creek Vineyards is one of the most important and historical vineyards not just in the Napa Valley, but in the wine world.  Established in 1968 by Al Brounstein with cuttings from one of Bordeaux's first-growth properties purported to have been smuggled in to the US, Brounstein literally carved the vineyards out of the side of Diamond Mountain, which was all natural state forest at the time.  

Noting the different soil types and expositions, the three vineyards (there is actually a fourth - named 'Lake' - but it has only been made as a unique wine a handful of times) have always been made and bottled separately.  So named for their soil types, the Volcanic Hill (eight acres), Red Rock Terrace (seven acres) and Gravelly Meadow (five acres) are all remarkably long-lived wines and all include small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot.

gravelly-meadow.jpgThe most amazing feature of the three sites is their proximity to each other.  It is possible to stand at a point in the vineyard and be about 20 meters from each of the vineyards.  Red Rock Terrace has a high level of ironstone in its soils, and tends to be the most approachable of the three young.  Volcanic Hill, opposite Red Rock Terrace, is the largest of the three vineyards (although still only a mere eight acres) and is south-facing, planted on ancient volcanic ash soils.  It tends to produce the biggest, most structured wine which really needs at least a decade to start to show its best (and preferably several!).  Gravelly Meadow, which is a well-drained, low-yielding vineyard planted on an ancient river bed.  It is a noticeably cooler site than the other two as well.  Fruit from the adjoining (and even cooler) three quarter-acre Lake vineyard is blended in to Gravelly Meadow most years.  The wine is very savoury and earthy, with stunning aromatics.

diamond-creek-labels.jpgI recently had the chance to drink the three vineyards from 1979 together.  The wines, as usual, were superb, soft and mellow (at least compared to young Diamond Creek Vineyard wines!), and each was distinct.  I hope to be able to try the current and recent vintages at 30+ years of age!

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