100% Petite Sirah guided through fermentation at the hands of Matthew Rorick, the Forlorn Hope Les Deux Mathieux is farmed at the Tenbrink Vineyard in Suisun Valley. In time to warm the heart and palate this winter season, the 2007 vintage has just arrived and so last night we uncorked a bottle to compare with the previous vintage, 2006.
A year that stressed vines and their caretakers, 2006 offered a long growing season in Napa, with heat peaks mid-summer and cooler temps in August-October. Being that Suisun Valley is east of Napa, where the days are warmer and the afternoons cooled by the breezes from Suisun Bay, the Petite Sirah tannins were fully ripened, and the fruit complex and offering great acidity.
Napa's 2007 on the other hand got off to a cold start and stayed cool and somewhat dry during the summer, leading to lower yields and smaller clusters and concentrated berries. And because Rorick is a one-man operation who silently coaxes the fruit's potential, these two bottles were crafted with his ear to the ground, his actions no more than a vessel to support the transition of fruit to wine.
Hand-harvested and whole cluster fermented with natural yeast, both vintages aged for 18 months in neutral barrels before being bottled by hand. With only 97 cases of each vintage produced, they are indeed rare creatures from the maker, Matthew Rorick.
The Forlorn Hope Les Deux Mathieux 2006 is beautiful out of the bottle. A symphony of fresh aromas with purple flowers, black plum and cherry fruit sets the stage for a palate so clean with bright acidity that's balancing but never searing. Rich, dark slate seats the fruit as it recedes, giving way to integrated tannins and warm spices that linger long on the palate.
The Forlorn Hope Les Deux Mathieux 2007 offers bolder tannins that settle with time and dark wild berry fruit. With scents of black plum skin, sandalwood and black pepper spice, the fruit here is bigger and wilder, and the velvety tannins with more grip. As with the previous vintage, the spicy finish warms the palate, and by day three, the 2007 vintage closely mirrors the 2006.