Wine of the Week – Sheldon 2009 Graciano Ripkin Vineyard, Lodi

It’s kind of ironic that this week’s wine of the week is a non Rhone from one of my favorite North Sonoma county  Rhone producers, Sheldon Wines. Sheldon in fact also makes  great Burgundian (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay)  and other varietals, but with such little focus on Rhone here in Sonoma and their hands on experience in Gigondas and deep love of Rhone wines, they are one of my top local referrals for Rhone wines. Their Petite Sirah gave me fresh insight that Petite Sirah really CAN be a Rhone varietal, and Dylan’s new Vinolocity Blanc white blend was the only white future I bought this year.

Photos Courtesy of Sheldon Facebook Page

About Sheldon

Sheldon is xenical side effect the beautiful story of Tobe and Dylan Sheldon, who fell in love with each other as much as they did wine, and married these pursuits, and each other. Sheldon is a micro winery, sometimes making as little of a barrel (25 cases.)

They share in all tasks, but success seems to have required more specialization as Dylan focuses most on wine making. In our chats, usually when he is whizzing around the busy winery, Dylan  can geek over vinification techniques to a level I feel like a school boy, and have never heard of. Tobe is a great sales & marketeer and often the face of the winery in the tasting room. Their passion for wine, and each other is visible in all they do, and the sacrifices they make.

Tasting Room and Winery (in the new Santa Rosa Vintners Plaza)

Sheldon opened a new tasting room and production facility last fall in Santa Rosa. Its a shared facility with two other wineries (Krutz and MJ Lords), next too, and owned by Ray D’Argenzio of the D’Argenzio Wines – aka the Godfather of Santa Rosa Wine as I call him.

This new tasting room is part of the Santa Rosa Vintners Square which is unfolding this summer into a mecca of wine and food with another shared tasting room that will support 8 wineries, a culinary center, cobblestone walks, bocce ball, and more.

Both tasting rooms are open for extended hours and regularly feature fun food, wine, and entertainment, often impromptu. Best to follow them on Facebook for the latest. Visit them at 1301 Cleveland Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

About Graciano

Never heard of this varietal (grape type.) ? Don’t feel bad, there are only about a dozen acres of Graciano planted in California. It’s most known for its production in the Rioja region in Spain, but even there plantings are small, and its mostly blended.

Wine Review: Sheldon 2009 Graciano Ripkin Vineyard, Lodi

Only 4 barrels, 100 cases of this stunning, low alcohol (12%!) red wine were made. Nicknamed “SuperFreak.”

Color: Vibrant, Medium red, fairly clear especially for an unfiltered, unfined wine.

On the Nose: Highly aromatic & complex: Cherry, red fruit, white pepper and spice spring from the glass. Hints of cola, rhubarb and pie spice are in deeper layers.

In the Mouth: Cranberry, tart red fruit, spice.

Recommendations: The acidity level may allow for some cellaring, but I do not have the ability to keep my hands off this wine. Buy and drink, while you can.  Extraordinary- 96 points. (I can count on one hand wines I rate over 95 in the last year.)

Where to Buy: At the Sheldon Tasting Room or Online. $28

Wine Geek & Vinification Info:

  • The second vintage working with this obscure varietal. This planting however is found 19 feet below sea level, on limestone soils at the Guard Rd. block in the western most planted area of the Lodi appellation, a certified Lodi Green Vineyard. Originally brought the Graciano in with the idea of blending it, but it had so much personality the Sheldon’s  just couldn’t bring ourselves to change it.
  • Harvested in three stages, from the 23rd to the 29th of October, just before the rains came. The fruit was hand sorted, and crushed with 100% whole cluster and roughly 50% whole berries to enhance the fruit and spice aromatics. We
  • Inoculated the first lot with a natural yeast strain isolated in the northern Rhone valley, the later picks fermented with the indigenous yeast from the vineyard. Fermentation took place in ½ ton macro bins & punched down 4 times a day. Pressed off after 8 days on the skins, using the gentlest press possible, a ¾ ton hydro-basket press. Once the wine is pressed,  it’s allowed to  settle for a few days in tank before barreling down into neutral French oak barrels (4 years old).
  • This wine, as with all of Sheldon wines ,is neither fined nor filtered.
  • Varietal: 100% Graciano
  • Appellation: Lodi
  • Vineyard: Ripken (Guard Rd.) Vineyard
  • Fermentation: ½ ton open top macro bins
  • Cooperage: 100% Neutral French oak.
  • Captured into Bottle: June 2nd 2010.  Released into the Wild: September 2010
  • Lab notes- PH 3.39 / TA .68 / Alc% 11.8
  • Case production: 95 (12x750ml)

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6 Responses to “Wine of the Week – Sheldon 2009 Graciano Ripkin Vineyard, Lodi”

  • William
    great article on the Sheldon’s and Graciano wine.
    “The Don”

  • You captured the Sheldons- well done! TR

  • Graciano, if it can be scaled to grow well in California, may serve to improve the results of extended aging on cabernet, rhone, and rioja components. If such movements are successful, then it could lead to very significant quality improvements at the Reserve stage (provided of course that winemakers could agree on the meaning of “Reserve”).

    I concur with you wholeheartedly, having endorsed Sheldon Graciano in a post on 03/13/2011 entitled “Wrestling with Promiscuity and Monogamy through Artisanry in the Battle against Commoditization in Wine” at .
    For this gem, Sheldon deserves the wine of the quarter award for 2011Q1 or perhaps the half 2011H1. It is simply that important an innovation in the regionall practices of winemaking.

    BTW, have you tried the Twisted Oak Graciano yet? We’ll have to check in with Jeff Stai.

  • 12% alc red from Lodi?! Wow, I’ll be checking it out. I’m diggin the fact that folks are harvesting with less sugar. You know the way it used to be. High acid is key, not just for beautiful cellaring, but a probably a wonderful companion at the nightly dinner table.

    Cheers to Sheldon for pulling the trigger on time!

  • […] Simple Hedonisms Wine of the Week – Sheldon 2009 Graciano Ripkin Vineyard, Lodi Because I love Sheldon wines and their story, and if I had a wine of the week, this would definitely be one of them! […]

  • […] tasting fees at 10 Santa Rosa wineries, which include other ‘Wine of the Week’ members Sheldon Wines, Inspiration Vineyards, and other personal favorites (Krutz, MJ Lords, D’Argenzio, Old World […]

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