Pasterick – 2006 Dry Creek Valley Estate Syrah

September 6, 2011

The Facts:

Pasterick of Dry Creek Valley is a small family run operation that focuses their efforts on Syrah. In addition to their flagship wine they also make a tiny amount of Rosé. Visitors to their winery are welcome by appointment. Check their website for more specific details.

The Pasterick 2006 Dry Creek Valley Estate Syrah was produced from fruit grown on their hillside vineyards in the heart of DCV. This offering is 100% Syrah. After hand harvesting and fermentation this wine was aged in 400 liter French oak puncheons for a period of 3 years. 350 cases of this wine were produced in standard 750 ml bottles as well as an additional 12 cases of magnums. This Syrah sells for $48.

Gabe’s Take:

I’ve long been a believer that Syrah could be a huge varietal for Dry Creek Valley. While there are certainly a handful of producers working with this grape there, it’s really a fringe player these days compared to Zinfandel and the like. A few however have made Syrah a large part of what they’re doing, or in the case of Pasterick, the very essence of who they are. With that in mind I relished the opportunity to taste their current vintage.

Violet, plum and blackberry lead the dark and brooding nose of this 2006 Syrah. A core of spices punctuates the dark fruits providing a counterbalance. Red and black cherry flavors are both dominant throughout the palate along with plum pudding spices. Black raspberry emerges as well. Smoked meats black pepper and cardamom are part of the finish along with a closing wallop of chocolate Bosco syrup that provides a satisfying and sweet finale. This is a big, bold Syrah that opens with intensity and carries it through a multi-layered palate and continues it through a persistent, and impressive finish loaded both power and grace.

This Syrah from Pasterick, is a fine example of what can be achieved in Dry Creek Valley with this classic Rhone varietal. More and more folks seem to be growing some and experimenting with it on some level. It’s good to see a producer that dedicates itself to this grape so fully.

Dutcher Crossing – 2006 Charles F. Mathy Syrah Tribute

March 8, 2011

The Facts:

The 2006 Charles F. Mathy Syrah Tribute wine was produced from fruit sourced at Taylor Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley. A mere 119 cases of this wine were produced. It sells through the winery for $40. Debra Mathy spent a great deal of time looking for the right Winery before ultimately purchasing Dutcher Crossing. She made most of that journey across states and continents with her Dad. Unfortunately he passed away after battling a long illness before Debra found Dutcher Crossing. However his guiding principles and the road they had traversed together helped her find the Winery she would purchase in 2007. In tribute to her dad Charles F. Mathy, Dutcher Crossing produces a wine each year in his honor. The proceeds from this release benefit Cancer research. The most recent Tribute release is a 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Gabe’s Take:

There are many reasons that Dutcher Crossing is high on my list of Dry Creek Valley producers. Of course, most importantly I’m really fond of the wines. But beyond that there’s a lot more. Deb Mathy and her team are easy folks to like and to root for. The ongoing tribute wine that they put together which both raises money and honors her Dad’s memory speaks volumes to the kind of organization they’re running.

Violet, plum and blueberry aromas fill the heady and intoxicating nose of this 2006 Syrah. Blackberry, dark plum, raspberry and clove are all part of the palate which is simply loaded with dark fleshy fruit flavors. Those dense, black fruit flavors carry through the finish along with smoked meat elements, copious spices, dark chocolate and rhubarb. This wine is framed by solid acidity.

As a whole the Dutcher Crossing wines are impressive. On an individual basis there are some that excite me a little bit extra. Kerry Damskey has a particularly deft hand when it comes to Syrah. This wine clearly exhibits that. Grab it before it’s gone; it’s delicious and it’s for a great cause.

Montemaggiore – 2007 Paolo’s Vineyard Syrah

February 16, 2011

The Facts:

The Montemaggiore 2007 Paolo’s Vineyard Syrah was produced using estate fruit. All of the grapes were harvested from the single vineyard of the same name. Four distinct blocks within Paolo’s Vineyard were selected for this wine. This offering is 100% Syrah. Barrel aging was accomplished over 19 months in French oak; 32% of the barrels were new. 600 cases of this wine were produced in the 2007 Vintage and the suggested retail price is $35.

Montemaggiore is a small family owned winery. Their production size varies from year to year but they tend to hover around 1,000 cases. Husband and wife team Lise and Vincent Ciolino each take the reins on winemaking and grape growing respectively. They’re located at 2355 West Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg. Tours are available by prior appointment. Visit their website for specific details.

Gabe’s Take:

Montemaggiore produces a distinct Portfolio of wines made mostly from estate fruit sourced at their home ranch in the Dry Creek Valley. The Paolo’s Vineyard Syrah stands as the heart and soul of the wines they produce. Past vintages I’ve tasted have been noteworthy so I was eager to sample the last release of their signature wine.

Both red and black fruits show up in the nose of this 2007 Syrah. Blackberry is of particular note and along with cedar, vanilla bean, wild strawberry and mulled berry form a strong medley of aromas. Once you take a sip, cherry flavors, both red and black, announce themselves in droves along with subtle herb flourishes and a touch of kirsch liqueur. Earth, smoked meats, wisps of anise, black pepper, chicory and subtly emerging cocoa are all present in the finish which has prodigious length, going on forever and ever. This wine has firm acidity a good overall structure.

This Syrah is delicious now, but is in many ways really a youngster. My recommendation is to have patience and lay this down for 3-4 years for maximum pleasure. However if you really want to drink it sooner, I’d decant it for a couple of hours. In either case, this is a tremendous example of Syrah that does the winery and Dry Creek Valley proud. It blows away its price-point making it a tremendous value to boot. If you yearn for New World Syrah made with Old World intent, the 2007 Paolo’s Vineyard from Montemaggiore is an excellent choice.

Michel-Schlumberger – 2006 Le Source Syrah

January 31, 2011

The Facts:

The Michel-Schlumberger 2006 Le Source Syrah was produced using fruit grown on the home Estate in located in the Bench-land of Dry Creek Valley. In addition to Syrah (97%) this wine contains Viognier (3%). The two varietals were co-fermented over a period of 13 days with native yeasts. Barrel aging was accomplished over 16 months in a combination of French and American oak; 20% of the barrels were new. 923 cases of this vintage were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $32.

Michel-Schlumberger is a Dry Creek Valley producer that totally kills it when it comes to Bordeaux varietals. Winemaker Mike Brunson and his staff are quite gifted with a range of varieties outside the Bordeaux classics as well. The absolute best way to get to know their wines is to pay them a visit. They’re open every day and they offer a wide array of tasting and tour options. Check their website for specific details and contact information. The bottom line though, if you’re going to be in Dry Creek Valley, you want to stop at Michel-Schlumberger.

Gabe’s Take:

The 2006 Le Source Syrah opens with an intoxicating nose that blends bright red fruit aromas with heady spices and floral nuances. Smoked meat flavors emerge on the palate alongside the red and black fruit flavors that are the stars of the show. Raspberry and black cherry are of particular note. A veritable barrage of spice flavors such as clove, nutmeg and black pepper are prominent as well. The finish is lengthy with rhubarb and sour red fruits in abundance. Both white and black peppers provide a final tingly note that clings to the back of the throat.

This Syrah from Michel-Schlumberger has Rhone intent written all over it. That said it’s very much a Dry Creek Valley wine that showcases its sense of place as is typical of the terrific releases that this wonderful producer keeps putting out.

Preston Vineyards – 2007 Syrah-Sirah

October 31, 2010

The Facts:

The Preston of Dry Creek 207 Syrah-Sirah was produced using organically grown, estate fruit. Preston has been farming Syrah in Dry Creek Valley since 1979, making them early adopters (in California) to say the least. This wine is a blend of Syrah (95%) and Petite Sirah (5%).  The blend varies from year to year depending on what nature delivers in the vineyard. Aging occured over 18 months in french oak. 673 cases of this release were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $32.

Preston Vineyards is a classic Dry Creek Valley producer. Lou and Sue Preston have been making wine at their Dry Creek Valley Farm since 1975. Their tasting room is located at 9282 West Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg. Preston is open daily from 11:00 AM to 4:30 PM for tasting. They also offer picnic grounds to their visitors. Check their website for the details about that as well as special events and more.

Gabe’s Take:

So there are two things close to my heart contained in this bottle; Dry Creek Valley Syrah and the inclusion of Petite Sirah. While the amount of Petite Sirah in this vintage is relatively small it’s more than enough to impact this wine.

The lovely, rich purple hue of this release is striking and hard to miss when you pour this wine. The nose is filled with black fruit aromas such as blackberry and plum. These are underscored with fruitcake spice characteristics. Fleshy plum, blueberry and additional blackberry are all part of the palate which is even keeled, full flavored and layered with subtle layers of complexity that become more apparent as this wine has a chance to breathe and express its charms. Rhubarb, sour dark fruits, earth, espresso, black pepper and mineral notes are all part of the lengthy finish of this wine. Excellent acidity provides good framework.

Whether you enjoy this wine tonight or you lay it down for the next decade you’re going to get a real taste of DCV. When I think of Dry Creek Valley, wines like Syrah-Sirah from Preston are exactly what come to mind. This release, as the others in their portfolio, does an excellent job showing off its sense of place. Open a bottle of Preston wine, pair it with some flavorful foods, close your eyes and you might just be able to imagine you’re sitting in Healdsburg amongst the vines.

Wilson Winery – 2007 Dorothy’s Vineyard Syrah

October 19, 2010

The Facts:

The Wilson Winery 2007 Dorothy’s Vineyard Syrah is a single vineyard effort produced using fruit sourced from the namesake vineyard. Dorothy’s Vineyard was planted in 1995 and sits at an elevation of 1,650 feet. It was named in honor of co-proprietor Ken Wilson’s Mother. This wine which is 100% Syrah was aged in French oak for approximately 19 months. 350 cases of this wine were made and t has a suggested retail price of $30.

Wilson Winery is located at 1960 Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg. They’re open daily from 11 AM until 5 PM. Several tasting options are available (some require a prior appointment). They close on some major holidays so check their website for those specific details or call them at 800-433-4602.

Gabe’s Take:

What stands out about the Wilson Wines is that they are generally full throttle expressions of their respective grapes, without going over the top. This is particularly true of the many Zinfandels in their line. With that in mind I’m eager and curious to try their current release of Dorothy’s Vineyard Syrah to see how it stacks up.

Baked berry pie aromas are underscored by copious quantities of spice, lead by vanilla bean and fruitcake spices, in the highly aromatic and expressive nose of this Syrah. Fleshy plum, blackberry, blueberry and more are prominent components of the dark sweet berry flavors that light up the middle of this wine’s palate. The flavors are full bodied, full flavored, layered and fairly intense. Black and white pepper spice, minerals and candied fruit elements are all part of the finish which lingers persistently. Pair this wine with robustly flavored foods for memorable results

This 2007 Syrah from Wilson is a terrific example of a wine that is big and bold but retains balance and proportion. It has lots of appealing upfront fruit that will please a wide array of folks and it also has the backbone, substance and complexity to please those looking for more.

Montemaggiore – 2006 Nobile

October 13, 2010

The Facts:

The 2006 Montemaggiore Nobile was produced from fruit soured at the winery’s own estate vineyard. This offering is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (66%) and Syrah (34%). Each varietal was picked and fermented separately. Blending occurred after approximately a year in barrel. After blending it spent several more months in barrel prior to bottling. In total it spent 17 months in French oak; 60% of the barrels were new. 150 cases of this estate wine were produced and it sells for $45.

Montemaggiore is a small family owned winery. Their production size varies from year to year but they tend to hover around 1,000 cases. Husband and wife team Lise and Vincent Ciolino each take the reins on winemaking and grape growing respectively. They’re located at 2355 West Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg. Tours are available by prior appointment. Visit their website for specific details.

Gabe’s Take:

I’ve long felt that Rhone varietals in general should get more play in Dry Creek Valley So I love the fact that Syrah stands at the core of the Montemaggiore wines. Even though this particular wine is only 1/3 Syrah, it still the heart and soul of this release.

The deep, dark hue of this 2006 Estate blend is the first thing I noticed, as the color is intensely dark. Aromas of dark fruit, cigar box and spice form an inviting nose. There’s an avalanche of black cherry which leads the way throughout the palate of this wine. It sets off layer after layer of appealing dark fruit flavors, loaded with brooding intensity. Towards the back of the palate blueberry characteristics take center stage leading to minerals, earth, and dark chocolate flavors in the persistent finish. Firm acidity frames this wine. Nobile is a natural partner for full flavored foods.

There are several things about the 2006 Nobile from Montemaggiore that impress me. In short this wine has impressive length, structure and depth of flavor, along with excellent balance. From the first whiff to the lingering flavors on the back of the throat and everywhere in between this is a very well constructed wine that’s delicious today, but with the ability to improve in the bottle.

Dutcher Crossing – 2007 Proprietor’s Reserve Syrah

September 24, 2010

The Facts:

The Dutcher Crossing Winery 2007 Proprietor’s Reserve Syrah was produced from Dry Creek Valley Fruit. The grapes were sourced from two vineyards; Taylor’s Vineyard as well as Dutcher Crossing’s own estate vineyards. This offering has a suggested retail price of $29.

Dutcher Crossing Winery is located at 8533 Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg. They’re open every day from 11 AM until 5 PM. They close on a handful of major holidays. Please check their website for those specifics, or call them at 866-431-2711. Tours and private tastings are also available by prior appointment.

Gabe’s Take:

A blast of allspice leads the nose of this 2007 Syrah. Black plum aromas follow. Lush, fleshy dark fruit flavors lead the parade through the palate. The fruit flavors are such as cherry are dark, brooding and impeccably dry. Spice notes march alongside these and provide an excellent accompaniment. As you hit the finish pomegranate and rhubarb flavors emerge along with little bursts of sour cherry. The allspice continues along with clove, vanilla bean, nutmeg and a hint of cocoa. This wine shows off fine acidity and it’s terrifically well proportioned.

There’s a lot to like about this Syrah. For me, first and foremost this wine is a food lovers dream. It’s the sort of red you can pair with almost anything and expect positive results. The excellent balance it has makes it a natural for your Thanksgiving table as one example. A meal like that is always loaded with a myriad of flavors. This Syrah will perform well in precisely that sort of scenario. I love the deft hand winemaker Kerry Damskey shows with Rhone varietals. That’s particularly promising when you consider the additional acreage of Estate vineyards they’ve planted to Rhone grapes. Those vines are a few years off yet, but I can practically taste their promise.

Wilson Winery – 2009 Blushing Syrah Rosé

August 30, 2010

The Facts:

Wilson Winery’s 2009 Blushing Syrah is a single vineyard selection. All of the fruit for this Rosé was sourced at Dorothy’s Vineyard which sits at an elevation of 1,650 feet above sea level. These vines were planted in 1995. Wilson Winery also sources their Estate Syrah at this Vineyard. The effort is 100% Syrah. This wine was barrel fermented in neutral French oak; 30% of the wine underwent malolactic fermentation. 120 cases of this 2009 Rosé were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $20. Wilson Winery is located at 1960 Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg. They’re open daily from 11 AM until 5 PM. Several tasting options are available (some require a prior appointment). They close on some major holidays so check their website for those specific details or call them at 800-433-4602.

Gabe’s Take:

The beautiful, perfectly pink hue is the first thing that becomes apparent about this 2009 Rosé as it’s poured. The nose is filled with aromas of watermelon, citrus and strawberry. Bright, engaging red fruit flavors are the story of the palate; raspberry, cherry, red plum and an underlying layer of fresh, juicy watermelon all play pivotal roles. Some of the fruit picks up a savory edge on the finish and along with some white pepper and additional spice notes, provides a throat tingling close.

There is a lot to like about this 2009 Rosé. First and foremost it’s refreshing and delicious. I found that for me this particular selection was at its best ice cold. This wine is loaded with bright fruit flavors, is perfectly dry and works well by itself or paired with a pretty wide range of foods. This is a terrific example of what Rosé should be.

Montemaggiore – 2009 Rosé

August 16, 2010

The Facts:

The Montemaggiore 2009 Rosé is an Estate wine. The fruit for this offering was sourced at Paolo’s Vineyard. This mountainside vineyard in Dry Creek Valley is farmed using organic and biodynamic practices. This wine was made entirely from Syrah.  It was aged for several months in French oak. A tiny 75 cases of this wine were produced and it sells for $25.

Montemaggiore is a small family owned winery. Their production size varies from year to year but they tend to hover around 1,000 cases. Husband and wife team Lise and Vincent Ciolino each take the reins on winemaking and grape growing respectively. They’re located at 2355 West Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg. Tours are available by prior appointment. Visit their website for specific details.

Gabe’s Take:

I’ve long believed that Dry Creek Valley doesn’t have nearly enough Syrah planted or produced there. Syrah can do incredibly well in Dry Creek Valley; this is proven by the handful of really well made examples out there. So of course a producer like Montemaggiore that has Syrah at the center of their entire operation heartens the soul of folks like me, who love this grape. I’d not had the chance to taste their Rosé before so it was with some excitement that I popped the cork on this 2009 wine.

The color of this 2009 Rosé is striking; this wine has a darker, deeper hue than average. Raspberry, strawberry, white pepper and wisps of watermelon and vanilla are present to varying degrees on the nose of this wine. Red fruits are on vivid display throughout the palate. Raspberry, cherry and strawberry are most prominent. They’re joined by a nice complement of spices. A hint of cotton candy emerges towards the back of the palate and leads to the finish which includes cranberry and pomegranate as well as continuing spice, particularly white pepper, as well as light mineral notes. The flavors are clean and crisp, buoyed by firm acidity.

There are a couple things that I look for in Rosé; I want them to be dry, food friendly, refreshing and have some level of complexity. The bottom line on this 2009 release from Montemaggiore is that it achieves all of those things. If you’re looking for a Rosé with some substance this is an offering to seek out.

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