2009 Donelan Wines
We’ve always found it odd that while we desire complexity in wine as a measure of quality, we strive for consistency and uniformity in the vineyard to achieve this. This paradox aside, the year 2009 is proving that a consistently moderate year with low water availability combined with our vineyards, sensible harvest times, and deft winemaking can make wines of tremendous complexity and structure. We’re not sure we can summarize the 2009 vintage any better than that, but we’ll try.
We divide each vineyard based on physiological variation to isolate only the best-of-the-best for the final bottling. Working with each vineyard a second time, Tyler, our winemaker, greatly appreciated the understanding of what each site needs in terms of viticulture, and – perhaps more critically – harvest timing. While 2008 saw some of the earliest harvest dates in our short history, in 2009 we worked to dial up vineyard balance to ensure full, ripe flavors to a point that would require the least amount of cellar intervention. This proved critical come October, when an early-ish rain approached. With nearly all our fruit in, we were able to comfortably pull the rest of the fruit thanks to the earlier arrival of ripe characters.
The moderate 2009 season promoted freshness and structure, placing the fulcrum of the mouth feel in the support of acidity. This season, more so than many recent vintages, allowed us to preserve tension without sacrificing substance. Tension is the wire from which all in wine is hung; tension without substance is tart, light, and wanting; substance with no tension can be obtrusive, if pleasurably broad. But tension with substance is structured, supple (even plush), and produces a more enticing wine than any other combination.
The 2009 aromas have wonderful depth and complexity, combining dark fruits with savory and sweet spices,. We feel they are representative of what our Sonoma terroir is capable of. Generally speaking, the wines are some of the most restrained we’ve produced without compromising the layers often achieved in our unique vineyards.
While still young, we are confident in saying that this has been a terrific vintage and one that will reward patience. The wines provide a wonderful combination of depth, finesse, elegance, and elegant persistence. They are likely to add a pleasant fleshiness as they continue to develop. This vintage reveals the true potential of our sites: offering characters distinct to Rhone varietals without sacrificing the pleasant richness required to be considered among the best wines. Uniquely flavored, well structured, fleshy, and pleasant…drink up!