Larkmead is an estate of more than 110 acres under vine, all certified organic. Founded in 1895, the vineyards were mostly replanted in 1995, except for the 100+ year-old Tocai Friulano vines. Photo courtesy Larkmead.com

A Stunning Collection of Larkmead Vineyards

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Our friend Dan Petroski was winemaker at Larkmead Vineyards for years (somehow he found time for his own label, the fabulous wines from Massican). We are excited to offer this great collection; rather than pontificating on our own we asked Dan for some thoughts on the wines and vintages.

"I am thrilled to see this array of Larkmeads’ wines and vintages. I was blessed to be part of the Larkmead 2006 harvest and named winemaker in 2012. Syrah was an interesting and engaging part of our early blends with Merlot, but the outcome wasn't what we hoped, so we bottled these very cool limited bottlings. I blinded an MS [Master Sommelier] on the 2007 recently, and let's just say, they didn't call it as Napa.

The early days of Larkmead Sauvignon Blanc evolved with the idea that we would treat this variety like Chardonnay, thanks to Andy Smith (I.e., maestro of DuMOL), my boss and mentor at the time. Some vintages were better than others. SB needs warmth, but it also needs water to show its best. Vintages 2011. 2013, 2016, and 2017 are superb. I bottled 2020 and am over the moon with its expression under the cloud of a difficult vintage - so hot and dry in 2020!

But let's talk red wines! The Larkmead property in Calistoga, in the hourglass of the St. Helena border, is so wickedly unique. Three separate vineyards are flowing down valley into the Napa River - gravel, sand, and clay. And each of the Larkmead wines dives into these soil profiles in the glass - the Solari leans into the power of organic matter in clay soils down by the Napa River, The Lark spirals into the elegance of sandy soils from a small patch of alluvial soils punching into the gravels and clay on the east side of Highway 29. The Merlot-based Firebelle is a wine that loves deep, clay, and sandy soils - some of the fun, rich soils where Larkmead grapes are grown.

The vintages....

2006, long, cool and the most expressive over time.

2007, hot at the end of August which pumped sugars, but the wines remain the most joyful of the warmer vintages.

2008, a really tough frost year that caused low yields and harsh wines.

2009, a rebound in quality and quantity. Rugged wines, not for all palates. The nights were warm, and the vines didn't rest. Super lean and powerful.

2010, scared the s*#* out of Napa winemakers but made some of the best wines in our lifetime - the 2010 Solari is one of the best wines Larkmead has ever bottled.

2011, even more scary, and we all wish we would have done better, but rain and humidity in early October handcuffed us from making great red wine

2012, was a drying season with good heat and above-average vineyard yields. It's a juicy vintage that everyone loves.

2013, no one can explain why this is chemically one of the most exciting vintages in our lifetime, so give up on the mystery and enjoy the wines.

2014, a crazy diurnal shift, so warm at night. Vines didn't shut down; the wines reflected that power and structure.

2015, the vintage took a breather on temps but no water, so the vines were average yielding but had juicy fruit flavors. They were a winner!

2016, we saw a break in the high temps and the drought, probably the most exciting and thoughtful wines Napa has made in years.

2017, a shocking vintage due to the intense heat, you had to nail this vintage in the vineyard to make stellar wines. We did at Larkmead.

2018, a breather of a vintage. Vines endured a wet winter and produced above-average yields and some flavor and freshness.

2019 was probably the vintage we all wanted - water and sun availability, quiet warm temperatures at night that powered the vines to make some of the most complex wines.

2020, turn up the volume! Super hot, no water, we all had to manage the fruit and acid balance, not to mention the Inferno around us!

2021, is a super exciting growing season with moderate yields and high-toned flavors! The wines will show this over time." Dan Petroski

 

Thank you Dan!

 

 

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