Wilson Winery – 2007 Roger’s Fault

November 18, 2010

The Facts:

The Wilson Winery 2007 Roger’s Fault was produced from Dry Creek Valley fruit. This blend contains Cabernet Sauvignon (43%), Merlot (21%), Petite Sirah (21%) and Cabernet Franc (15%). 340 cases of this offering were produced and it 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:

Zinfandel comes to mind first when I think of Wilson Winery. Rightly so I believe; because that trademark Dry Creek Valley variety is also their calling card. They make a wide array of very popular Zinfandels. However, if you take a slightly closer look you’ll see that their portfolio has so many other things in it. That includes Roger’s Fault which is a blend comprised of 3 Bordeaux varietals as well as Petite Sirah, which for my money is one of the noble grapes of Dry Creek Valley.

Dark berry aromas are supported by wisps of pencil lead and eucalyptus. Dark fruit characteristics carry through the palate; blackberry is the star. There are also components of dried cherry and plenty of spice. Dusty baker’s chocolate, emerging earth, chicory and black pepper all emerge in the finish which shows off good length. This wine has firm tannins which yield with some air.

I like this wine a lot for a variety of reasons. It shows off characteristics of the varieties in the blend nicely even as they come together to form a fully realized wine. It’s a tasty wine today, but those who are patient enough to lay it down for a few years will be rewarded. For $30 it represents a very good value.

A Tasty Quartet For Summertime Drinking

August 5, 2010

With summer in full swing and the year well more than half way over it’s a perfect time to take a quick glance over my shoulder at a quartet of wines that really stands out for one reason or another. They’re also suited to summer drinking. The offerings represented below are wines I tasted and wrote about earlier this year sometime. In short these are the wines that have really resonated with me; selections that I thought about and reflected on long after the bottles were empty. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive or definitive list of any kind. There are MANY other great wines in Dry Creek Valley; but here are four I keep daydreaming about.

Forth Vineyards – NV Rosé – A couple of months ago I was flying back home having spent a week tasting wine in Dry Creek Valley. This included attending Passport and Gateway. So obviously I’d gotten to taste a lot of wine. On that flight though I kept thinking about Jann & Gerry Forth’s Rose. It’s a perfect summertime wine and I sure wished I’d had some on that flight to make it go quicker. Luckily there was some waiting for me when I got home. Please read my full review here.

Kachina Vineyards– 2008 Chardonnay. One of these years I’m going to keep a tally of how many Chardonnays I taste over 12 months. The number certainly won’t be for the faint of heart. There is a handful each year that I absolutely love, and then there are others I enjoy to varying degrees. Unfortunately the largest group of Chardonnays each year are the selections that bore me with their banality. And then there is the latest Chardonnay from Kachina; not only do I love this wine, it also stunned me with its unique flavor profile. Please read my full review here

Dry Creek Vineyard – 2006 The Mariner. It would be impossible for me to compile a list of great Dry Creek wines without mentioning this release. It’s quite simply one of the most impressive wines I’ve tasted this year regardless of varietal, region or style. Throw a steak on the grill, roast some potatoes and dig into this wine over a long, leisurely evening. I’m lucky to taste thousands of wines a year in a variety of settings, when one stands out as much as this 2006 Meritage does, it’s truly memorable. Please read my full review here.

Quivira Vineyards – 2007 Wine Creek Ranch Zinfandel. What you thought this list wasn’t going to include any Zinfandel? I’ve had the chance to taste a lot of excellent Zinfandel this year. The array of styles and flavors is practically dizzying. This release from Quivira is one of those wines you want to share with good company over a delicious meal. It works marvelously with food, seems to grease the wheels of conversation and there’s a better than average chance you’ll head to the cellar for more when the bottle is empty. Drawing some inspiration from Baseball great Ernie Banks, you might want to, decant two. Please read my full review here.

Dry Creek Vineyard – 2006 The Mariner

June 8, 2010

The Facts:

Fruit for the third vintage of The Mariner was sourced from Dry Creek Valley vines with 20+ years of age. Dry Creek Vineyard’s 2006 The Mariner is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Merlot (32%), Malbec (8%), Cabernet Franc (6%), and Petit Verdot (4%). Fermentation took place over 20 days. Barrel aging was accomplished over 20 months in French oak; 41% of the barrels were new. Just over 4,500 cases of this wine were produced and the suggested retail price is $40.

Gabe’s Take:

I’ve always been fond of blends conceptually. I picture the winemaker in question putting on his chef’s hat and coming up with the desired ingredients to get the flavors he desires. In many ways blends are the polar opposite of the single vineyard, single varietal discipline of winemaking. So that alone is interesting. But Meritage does have some restraints on it. Since a Meritage is by definition a Bordeaux style blend, the winemaker striving to make one needs to stay within the allowed confines. For Meritage that means six permissible varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenère. Dry Creek Vineyard has used 5 of them in their current release of The Mariner. I approached this wine eager to see how the current release stands up to past vintages, as well as to their vast portfolio of varietal wines.

This 2006 Meritage starts out with a big, inviting nose loaded with, among other elements, bramble and plum pudding spice aromas. Blueberry, dark plum and cassis lead the full-bodied, even-keeled palate. Dusty Baker’s chocolate flavors join in as well. The flavors on this wine keep coming at you in a relentless but measured fashion. There is an intensity here that’s exciting, and a precision that’s impressive. Earth, pencil lead, chicory and a gentle hint of thyme emerge in a long, hearty finish that goes on and on, beckoning you back to the glass for more. This wine has firm tannins that yield with some air. If you drink it over the next couple of years, decanting for about 90 minutes is highly recommended.

There are no two ways about it; the 2006 vintage of The Mariner is a genuinely GREAT wine. In its category this release from Dry Creek Vineyard way over delivers on value. This is a $65 or $70 wine disguised in a $40 bottle. If you like Bordeaux style blends you need to taste this wine. Whether you share it over a long meal with a friend now, or lay it down for a special occasion in 2020, you’re going to love this one; jump on it.

Forchini Vineyards & Winery – 2006 BeauSierra, Bordeaux Style Red Wine

October 29, 2009

The Facts:

Forchini Vineyards & Winery made their first commercial vintage in 1996. Being a Dry Creek Winery it’s no surprise that it was 426 cases of Zinfandel that represented that first release. Prior to that they had long been growers in the valley. Today they produce 6 different wines and a total of approximately 3,000 cases annually. The Forchini 2006 BeauSierra Bordeaux Style Blend combines Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), Cabernet Franc (28%), Petite Verdot (12%) and Carignane (20%). This wine was barrel aged over 18 months in a combination of neutral French and American oak. 414 cases of this wine were produced and the suggested retail price is $20.

Gabe’s Take:

I’m always intrigued when approaching a blended wine that I haven’t had before. It’s forever fascinating when I taste the blends in question to discover if the pieces come together to form something greater than the sum of those parts or if one element outshines the rest. With those thoughts in mind I tasted BeauSierra for the first time

The dark and brooding nose of this Bordeaux inspired blend is lead by leather and dark fruits such as plum, blueberry, and blackberry. Those notes also echo through the palate as black fruit notes dominate along with plenty of spice; black pepper is particularly prominent. Baker’s chocolate characteristics kick in around mid-palate and continue forward from that point. Earth and light espresso emerges on the finish. This wine has firm but yielding tannins and excellent acidity.

This offering from Forchini is a classic food wine. Sure you could drink it on its own, but you’d be missing a bigger and better experience. Paired with the right foods, (just about anything with red sauce is a safe bet) this offering really comes into its own at a higher level. I love the balance of this selection and find that each of the varietals really blends in to form a unified and cohesive wine. BeauSierra has the structure for positive evolution under proper storage conditions. I wouldn’t hesitate to lay it down for 6-7 years. For $20 this wine over delivers on its price point in a big way.

Please vote for Drink Dry Creek! 

Ferrari-Carano – 1998 Trésor

April 21, 2009

The Facts:

Trésor is Ferrari-Carano’s proprietary Bordeaux style blend. Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot are all part of the mix. The wine was aged in barrel (26 months) and bottle (20 months) prior to being released. Vintage after vintage Trésor is one of Ferarri-Carano’s benchmark wines and perhaps their ultimate expression of the five Bordeaux varietals.

Gabe’s Take:

1998, was it really 11 years ago? I checked my calendar and it was. Controversial, maligned, these are both words often used by critics to describe the 1998 vintage. Every vintage has good, bad, and indifferent wines. The question is was 1998 as disappointing as the reactionary, sound byte craving media wanted everyone to believe? Personally I don’t think so. Great wineries and winemakers produce good wines in tough vintages. Based on the 1998 Cabernet based wines I’ve had in the ensuing years, it’s my contention that many of them simply needed more time than normal to resolve themselves. For the last few years I’ve revisited the 1998 Trésor quite a few times, it was always good, but I also felt it was still improving and headed for its peak. This week I pulled out a bottle, with a sneaking suspicion, in the back of my mind, that it might be at its peak now. Here’s what I took from it.

The nose of the 1998 Trésor is still quite lively and fresh, possessing raspberry and blackberry notes, underscored by light oak notes. Throughout the persistent palate black cherry characteristics are the most prominent reference point. This wine is full flavored and brings to mind cherry pie. The finish, which is long enough to be noteworthy, has a ton of earth and subtler but emerging mineral notes as well as a wallop of black pepper. This is an impeccably balanced wine with excellent acidity.

Having had the 1998 Trésor on about a dozen occasions I’m happy to report that it’s at the absolute peak of its power and elegance right now. I don’t expect it to improve further but it’ll drink well for about another year perhaps a little bit longer. If you have them, drink them, and enjoy a classic Dry Creek blend at the height of its charm.

Dave’s Take:

I wish I had this wine on my radar a few years ago – I would have bought as much as my wife would allow. Black cherry is definitely the most prominent note; however, throw in plenty of earth and cigar box, a bit of black pepper and cardamom. Balanced and smooth as only a bit of age can bring and this wine is simply terrific.

This was a great bottle to age, but there is the rub. How do you know which wines to age and which you should you drink behind the wheel on the way home from the liquor store? “Honestly officer, I was only trying to maximize the youthful fruitiness of this wine” …why don’t we leave this excuse to the “professionals” and wait until we get home. So here are a few clues on aging potential.

With red wines, high amounts of tannins are an excellent clue, increasing the chances that the wine will improve with age. Often Cabernets and Syrah will fall into this category. Low acidity red wines also do well such as Pinot Noir. Ironically, in white wines or rosés, high acidity will often take the place of the tannins in essence preserving the wine. Perhaps we will do a full article on this in the future, but I hope that these tips will suffice for now.

One last piece of advice, wines often go through a “dumb phase” where the wine becomes sort of muted. Flavors and aromas drop off. I experienced this twice while I was drinking the Trésor. The first time, perhaps an hour after we started drinking…we thought the bottle was done, but half an hour it was back. I tried it again 24 hours later and it was just so so. The next morning (yes before noon) I took a sip again and found it back in full force. Never forget that wine is a living entity within the glass. My wife didn’t like me for the first 4-5 years, I guess I aged well …now I’ve peaked and she still likes me ….just wait until I turn to vinegar. “Honey, I’m home…..”

Please vote for Drink Dry Creek!

Thumbprint Cellars – 2005 Three Some

April 14, 2009

The Facts:

The Thumbprint Cellars 2005 Three Some is a blend of Merlot (57%), Cabernet Sauvignon (36%) and Cabernet Franc (7%). The Thumbprint Cellars Wines are made by Scott Lindstrom-Dake who also makes wine under the Kelley Creek Label. 333 cases of this Bordeaux style blend were made and the suggested retail price is $43.

Gabe’s Take:

Pretty quickly now, I’ve become impressed with the wines that Scott Lindstrom-Dake is making, and releasing. They are distinct, while also simultaneously maintaining a connective thread of similarity that brands them with a house style. The collective tissue is that Scott’s wines tend to be loaded with rich, big, bold fruit flavors, at the same time that they stay true to the varietals in question and keep a sense of balance and proportion.

Blackberries and clove are the dominant characteristics in the nose of the 2005 Three Some. Throughout the palate, huge, dark fruit notes are prominent and mouth-filling. All of that dark fruit, which is paralleled by copious quantities of classic Dry Creek Dust, provides a wickedly brooding feel to the core of this offering. The perfectly dry finish has plenty of earth, mineral notes, dark chocolate and lingering reminders of chicory, in what is a tremendous and memorable close. This wine is very well structured with firm tannins and good acid structure.

What struck me most about this wine is that while it is a true blend with each varietal shining, the Merlot shines just a little more than the other two varietals. It provides the structure that Merlot can when it’s treated right and made into a serious wine. The 2005 Three Some from Thumbprint Cellars is delicious now, particularly with some air, however don’t hesitate to lay it down for 7-11 years. If you do you’ll be rewarded with a wine that is an even greater sum of its parts than it is today. Another offering, and another solid and impressive effort from Scott.

Please vote for Drink Dry Creek!

Kelley Creek – 2006 Tributary

March 16, 2009

The Facts:

Kelley Creek Wines are made by Scott Lindstrom-Dake, who also makes the Thumbprint Cellars offerings. The 2006 Tributary is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (62%), Merlot (29%) and Cabernet Franc (9%). This offering is composed of 100% Dry Creek Valley Fruit. To date, 2006 is the only vintage of this particular wine that Scott produced. The suggested retail price for this wine is $15.

Gabe’s Take:

The nose of the Tributary is filled with red raspberry and plum notes. Throughout the palate these characteristics continue and are joined by kirsch liqueur, cedar, mushroom and a touch of licorice. The lengthy finish is filled with sour cherry, earth, bramble and a host of spice notes. This wine has approachable tannins and good acidity.

Several things appealed to me about Tributary. For one it’s got a lot going on, for a very attractive price. Secondly the fruit is a little brighter than the typical Bordeaux style blends and thus it stands out as unique in that way. The combination of complexity, and easy drinkability, makes Tributary a wine that is likely to have broad appeal.

Dave’s Take:

Everything about the 2006 Kelley Creek Tributary is extremely easy: easy to drink, easy to enjoy, and easy on the wallet. I should be mad at the winemaker for giving us the “raspberry”, but I have to say this is one time I can’t complain. I agree with Gabe, the bright raspberry fruit that gives way to a more earthy finish should have wide appeal and is a relative bargain. I don’t recall in recent history a wine that has had as much going on for this price point. Finally a wine I truly enjoy and am not afraid to crack open whether I’m drinking alone or with a crowd.

Where has Scott Lindstrom-Dake been and why haven’t I noticed? If he continues to produce quality well priced wines such as these I think that we will be hearing a lot more about him in the future. Right now his wines are a bargain, I’d grab them while they are.  I have to admit that this one has already become somewhat of a “go to” for me.

Please vote for Drink Dry Creek!

Quivira Vineyards & Winery Ushers in a New Era

There are certain changes a Winery makes on a year to year basis that are transparent to consumers and don’t necessarily affect the wine that ends up on the shelf. And then there are changes that impact every aspect of an operation, from soup to nuts; bringing in a new winemaker is a wholesale change that can have a dramatic impact. Just about a year ago Quivira Vineyards and Winery brought aboard winemaker Hugh Chapelle. About a month ago I had the opportunity to Read The Whole Thing>>>

Wilson Winery – 2009 Sydney Vineyard Zinfandel

The Wilson Winery 2009 Sydney Vineyard Zinfandel was produced from fruit sourced at the wine’s namesake vineyard. This property which was planted in 1989 sits at an elevation of 1,500 feet. The Sydney Vineyard Zinfandel is a 100% varietal wine. Fruit was hand harvested and fermented in open top vessels with punchdowns three times a day. Aging took place in a combination of French and American oak over a period of 18 months. 540 cases were produced.Read The Whole Thing >>>