After years of selling their grapes to the likes of Pax Wines, Bedrock, Arnot Roberts, and Joseph Swan Vineyards, Paul & Lynn O’Neill decided it was high time to produce their own wine from their estate on Walker Vine Hill in the Russian River Valley. In 2018 with help from Cody Sapieka, Assistant Winemaker at Joseph Swan Vineyards and longtime family friend of the O’Neill’s, Villein Wines came to fruition with a portion of Paul’s 2018 Walker Vine Hill Syrah harvest. In 2019, to complement their inaugural release of cool climate Syrah, Paul & Cody produced their first blend of Marsanne and Roussanne from the iconic Alder Springs Vineyard in Mendocino County.
‘Villein’ comes from the medieval word for ‘farmer’ and represents Paul and Cody’s close bond to the land. The ten acres that comprise Walker Vine Hill Vineyard are a special micro-climate of the Russian River Valley, the fog that rolls in during the evening cools the daytime heat trapped on the south-facing slope by surrounding topographical undulations, allowing the grapes to slowly ripen. Low impact techniques are employed in the vineyard as well as in the cellar—native yeasts ferments, a fair amount of whole cluster fruit, minimal new oak as well as being unfined and unfiltered yields Villein’s elegant expression of California Syrah. A tiny 117 cases produced.
A fantastic red from Bedrock winemaker Morgan-Twain Peterson, one of the hottest young winemakers in California.
90 Points Robert Parker "Best Buy": "A Mediterranean blend of Zinfandel, Carignan, Alicante Bouchet, Syrah and assorted mixed blacks fermented with native yeasts and aged in primarily neutral containers (15% in new French oak), it is a California version of a high-class Cotes du Rhone. Lots of berry fruit intermixed with lavender, pepper and meaty black cherry and black currant flavors emerge from this satisfying, round, expansive, generous red. An outstanding, killer value that should provide pleasure over the next 1-2 years. If there is a better value in California wine, I would like to know about it."
....Morgan Twain-Peterson is one of the most impressive young winemakers I have ever met, and it’s not just because he grew up the son of a famous producer. Making wines at this level requires talent, passion, hard work and a great palate, none of which is easily inherited. Along with Mike Officer of Carlisle, Twain-Peterson is on a mission to rediscover what he calls California’s old-vine “heritage” vineyards. These historic sites planted by California’s early immigrants, often home to unknown field blends, remain some of the most fascinating vineyards in California. Officer and Twain-Peterson were tired of seeing these old sites gobbled up by industrial-scale wineries, so they decided to do something about it. Bravo."
New York Times: "This red blend is a perpetually excellent value from Bedrock Wine Company which makes a wide variety of terrific, unmanipulated wines from old California vineyards. The array of groups includes zinfandel, carignan, syrah and petite sirah, and vintages are mixed as well, a welcome tactic. The result is an easygoing, lively wine that is delicious and versatile. Too often, inexpensive California reds are inflated with oak flavorings and other enhancements intended to imitate the characteristics of more expensive wines. Not this one, and it makes you think about how good these humble wines could be if other producers would permit them the dignity of authenticity."
An amazing value from the South of France - hurry!
95 Points Decanter: "60% Syrah, 40% Grenache. Lovely rich opulent and floral, black berry and plum nose, the palate is big with well layered fruit, attractively firm but soft tannin and hints of oak, a big wine with a lovely finish. *Gold Medal Winner Decanter Asia Wine Awards.*
Robert Parker: "A blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache, the Cotes du Rhone Saint-Esprit is a screaming value. If offers bold black cherry and blueberry fruit aromas, lively fruit flavors, silky tannins and a crisp, lengthy mocha-tinged finish. Drink this fun, bouncy little wine over the next couple of years."