Preston Vineyards – 2009 Madam Preston

September 29, 2010

The Facts:

The Preston of Dry Creek 2009 Madam Preston was produced using organically grown estate fruit. This wine is a blend of Roussanne (47%), Viognier (32%), Grenache Blanc (11%), and Marsanne (10%). This wine was fermented in French oak using native yeasts. 731 cases of this offering were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $34.

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:

Citrus aromas are underpinned by lychee and apricot notes in the attractive nose of this 2009 Rhone inspired blend. White peach, apricot, nectarine and continued wisps of citrus all play a role in the palate. It’s full of flavor but even keeled and almost gentle in nature, yet loaded with layers of complexity. Fruit flavors continue through the finish along with light mineral notes, a hint of honey, hazelnut, nutmeg and white pepper. All of those flavors join together beautifully and linger, clinging to the back of the throat for a good long while.

I happen to think there should be more Rhone varietals coming out of Dry Creek Valley. So it’s good to see folks like the Prestons make wines of such distinction and character from these grapes. This wine is delicious on its own. In fact it’s the kind of wine I think of when I yearn to sit out on the deck or porch to enjoy the nice weather and a bottle of wine. That said it’ll also pair beautifully with light summer cuisine as well as spicy foods. Avoid over-chilling this wine which will mask its true beauty and gentle complexities. If you like white Rhone inspired blends, this is one of the best in California, don’t miss it.

Dry Creek Vineyard – 2008 Foggy Oaks Vineyard Chardonnay

September 27, 2010

The Facts:

The Dry Creek Vineyard 2008 Foggy Oaks Vineyard Chardonnay was produced using Russian River Valley Fruit. Foggy Oaks Vineyard was planted in 2000. In total 17 and ½ acres of Chardonnay are planted there. This vineyard is 100% sustainably farmed. This offering is 100% varietal. It was 100% barrel fermented and 75% of it underwent malolactic. Barrel aging occurred over 14 months in all French oak. This is the premier vintage of this wine and it has a suggested retail price of $20. Dry Creek Vineyard is located at 3770 Lambert Bridge Road in Healdsburg. They’re open daily from 10:30 AM until 4:30 PM. Private tasting options and tours are available by prior appointment. Check their website for the details or call them at 800-864-9463.

Gabe’s Take:

Admittedly Chardonnay isn’t the first varietal I think of when Dry Creek Vineyard comes to mind; heck it’s not even the first white varietal that pops in me head. However that really says more about the indelible impression of their Sauvignon Blanc program, as well as the appeal of their Chenin Blanc, then it does their Chardonnay. All that said I was really intrigued when I read about the work and planning that went into this new release wine. What the Foggy Oaks Chardonnay represents is really a reimagining of Dry Creek Vineyard’s core Chardonnay. At this wines heart is the Foggy Oaks vineyard. The family first saw the property in 1999 and planted it the next year. With all that planning, labor and forethought I was pretty eager to taste the results.

Quince, Bartlett pear, melon, winesap apple and baker’s spice aromas are all present in the nose of this 2008 single Vineyard Chardonnay. Asian pear and yellow delicious apple lead a palate that is simply loaded with gorgeous, fresh orchard fruit flavors that come at you in droves. Those fruit flavors are supported by a bevy of spices such as vanilla and nutmeg as well as hints of clove and gentle touch of star anise. Things close out with an intense, fruity, spicy, layered and quite lengthy finish whose flavors reverberate long after the last sip of wine has been swallowed. This wine is delicious on its own or paired with food.

There’s a lot to love about this Chardonnay. First and foremost it’s an incredibly tasty and appealing wine. Secondly it’s a terrific representation of the kind of Chardonnay that can be produced in Russian River Valley. Third it has the structure to drink well for at least the next 5 years. And fourth, the quality, individuality and complexity of this wine make it a truly excellent value at around $20.

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 – 2008 Late Harvest Zinfandel

September 19, 2010

The Facts:

The Wilson Winery 2008 Late Harvest Zinfandel was produced from fruit sourced at a single site. That location is Ellie’s Vineyard. It’s named in honor of owner and winemaker Diane Wilson’s mother, an Italian immigrant who fostered her love of wine. The vineyard, which sits at an elevation of 1,740 feet above sea level, is planted to both Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. These vines were planted in 1993. This 2008 Late Harvest wine is 100% Zinfandel. It was hand harvested and fermented in open top vats with punchdowns three times daily. Barrel aging occurred in a combination of French and American oak over 13 months. A mere 83 cases of this dessert wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $30.00. 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:

This wine has an intoxicating and heady nose that combines a compote of berries with a potpourri of spice reference points. Raspberry and cherry elements intermingle throughout the palate. Fruitcake spices add to the layers of flavor. The fruit turns to sweet wild strawberry as things head toward the finish which has good length, and continues to show off lots of spice; a smidge of vanilla bean emerges as well.

This Dessert Wine has a lightness to its overall weight that assures it never overburdens, overtaxes or overwhelms your senses as some Late Harvest Zinfandels are prone to do. This wine can quite easily be dessert all by itself. However it’ll pair well with things like Italian Cheesecake or NY Style Cheesecake, topped with berries. Chocolate based desserts will work nicely as well.

Dashe Cellars – 2007 Louvau Vineyards Old Vines Zinfandel

September 16, 2010

The Facts:

The Dashe Cellars 2007 Louvau Vineyards Old Vines Zinfandel is a single vineyard effort produced from fruit sourced at the vineyard of the same name. In addition to Zinfandel (98%), this wine contains a splash of Petite Sirah (2%). The vines planted at Louvau vineyards have over 80 years of age on them. This vineyard is in the bench of Dry Creek Valley. This Zinfandel was aged for 12 months in French oak; 12% of the barrels were new. 422 cases of this vintage were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $32. Mike and Anne Dashe have been crafting wines for their own label since 1996. They’re a Bay area based producer whose main focus is single vineyard wines. Other varietals are also part of their portfolio but Zinfandel, particularly from Dry Creek Valley stands at the heart of their operation. The Dashe Cellars wines can be tasted in several places; Their Winery and tasting room in Oakland as well as the Family Wineries Tasting Room in Healdsburg.

Gabe’s Take:

This 2007 Zinfandel sourced at Louvau Vineyards is marvelously aromatic. Effusive floral elements are joined by fruit and spice aromas to form a nose that is both gorgeous and quite engaging. The palate is lead by a parade of cherry flavors. Both red and black cherry take center stage throughout; they’re joined by raspberry and blackberry flavors as well. Clove and black pepper kick in from the spice department to add a throat clinging and tingling element. Things then head towards the above average finish which shows off minerals and chocolate as well as hints of chicory and earth.

The Dashe Zinfandels are easy to love for a number of reasons. First off, they are each impeccably balanced, food friendly and approachable in their youth. That style also lends itself to wines which are built to last and often improve for a number of years. But the overriding quality that impresses me about their single vineyard offerings is that they are each distinct as they should be, telling the story of a given vineyard site in a specific year. All that said the caring hands of Mike and Anne Dashe assure that the wines each have a connective tissue that identifies them as Dashe Cellars offerings. If you love Zinfandel you owe it to yourself to check out Dashe Cellars.

Pedroncelli – 2008 Mother Clone Zinfandel

September 14, 2010

The Facts:

The Pedroncelli 2008 Mother Clone Zinfandel was produced using fruit sourced at several Estate vineyards. Some of those vineyards surround the winery and have been in their family since 1927; and planted to Zinfandel since 1904. Fruit from the 50 year old Buchignani vineyard is also included. In addition to Zinfandel (95%), a bit of Petite Sirah (5%) is blended in as well. Barrel aging was accomplished over 12 months in a combination of French and American oak. This wine has a suggested retail price of $15.

The Pedroncelli Family has been making wine in Dry Creek since 1927. Their current releases can be tasted daily from 10 AM to 4:30 PM at the Pedroncelli Tasting room located at 1220 Canyon Road in Geyserville. Many times when I’ve been in their tasting room they have something older from the library open to taste and purchase. As with their current releases they offer these library selections at very reasonable prices. So keep an eye out for them when you stop in.

Gabe’s Take:

More than any other, Mother Clone Zinfandel is the first wine that comes to mind when I think of Dry Creek Valley. For me, a much earlier vintage of this wine was my introduction to Dry Creek Valley. For all practical purposes it was Mother Clone that also set me off on my earliest explorations of Zinfandel as a varietal as well. So I make a point of checking in with this wine from time to time and exploring each vintage to see how it stacks up to the many others I’ve experienced.

Brambly berry fruit, briar, allspice and vanilla bean aromas all present themselves in varying degrees of intensity through the nose of this 2008 Zinfandel. Black cherry leads the charge throughout the palate and it’s joined by a nice complement of dark berry fruits and intermingling wisps of toasty oak. A wallop of minerals, earth, dusty baker’s chocolate and black pepper flavors are all part of the excellent finish. This wine has supple tannins and terrific acidity.

I love the versatility this wine shows with food. It’s beautifully balanced and will thus pair with a wide array of styles. A dish of pasta with red sauce would be a terrific match, as would roasted meats. It also works well paired with more casual foods such as hard cheeses or a Panini. The bottom line for me is that Mother Clone Zinfandel is a classic example of the varietal, and more than that one of the very pillars upon which Dry Creek Valley stands. The 2008 version is a worthy addition to the long standing lineage this wine represents.

Montemaggiore – 2009 3 Divas Viognier / Marsanne / Roussanne

September 11, 2010

The Facts:

The Montemaggiore 2009 3 Divas was produced using fruit sourced at the famed Saralee’s Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. This wine is blend of Viognier (36%), Marsanne (32%) and Roussanne (32%). The grapes were pressed into stainless steel and after 24 hours racked into neutral French oak. Each varietal was aged separately and blended prior to bottling. A mere 100 cases of this wine were produced. It has a suggested retail price of $25. Montemaggiore’s main focus is on estate grown wines. This Rhone style blend is the lone wine sourced outside of their Dry Creek Valley Estate Vineyards.

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:

Lychee fruit, bright citrus, pear, hazelnut and spice aromas fill the vibrant and effusive nose of this 2009 Rhone inspired blend. The palate is layered with fruit flavors such as pear as well as a nice layer of lemon crème as well as clove and nutmeg spice. Overall it has a luxurious, pleasing feel loaded with flavor. Minerals, hazelnut, ginger and a touch of white pepper emerge in the above average finish. This wine is crisp and refreshing with impeccable balance. Appealing and refreshing are two of the main ways I would describe this wine which beckons you back to the glass for sip after sip.

This wine is a natural complement to the Estate, Syrah-based Reds that have been in the Montemaggiore portfolio for a number of years now. This offering is both delicious on its own and well suited to match up with a host of diverse lighter, but full flavored foods. It’ll work particularly well with spicy Thai or Indian dishes for example.

Collier Falls Vineyards 2005 Private Reserve Zinfandel

September 9, 2010

The Facts:

The Collier Falls Vineyards 2005 Zinfandel was produced from fruit sourced at their Estate Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley. This wine is 100% Zinfandel. Fermentation took place in small stainless steel tanks. Barrel aging was accomplished over 15 months in French and American oak; a third of the barrels were new and the remaining two thirds were once used. This wine was racked twice during the aging process. 250 cases of this 2005 Zinfandel were produced. It has a suggested retail price of $32. The wines of Collier Falls Vineyards can be tasted daily at the Family Wineries Tasting Room of Dry Creek Valley. It’s located at 4791 Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg. They’re open from 10:30 AM until 4:30 PM daily.

Gabe’s Take:

A visit to Dry Creek Valley isn’t complete with a stop at the aforementioned Family Wineries. This great room is a perfect opportunity to taste a ton of wines handcrafted by small wineries showcasing mostly Dry Creek fruit. And whether you head there on a mission to taste a particular winery or you decide to simply taste all the Zinfandel in the room (a tall order to be sure) you’ll find many delicious choices. My last time there was the only chance I’d had to taste this 2005 Zin from Barry Collier, it had made a lasting impression, so I was eagerly anticipating restating it.

Aromas of dark berry jam and wild strawberry underscored by hints of cocoa flow easily from the nose of this 2005 Zinfandel. Black raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, currant and red plum flavors are all apparent through the palate along with copious spice notes which include clove and allspice. Minerals, espresso and dark sweet chocolate flavors all emerge in the lengthy, even keeled finish of this Zinfandel.

There’s a lot to love about this Zinfandel. First of all there are oodles of appealing sweet berry fruit in evidence throughout this wine. That said it’s balanced, smooth and well in proportion. Despite alcohol well over 15%, this wine doesn’t drink hot in the least. At five years old this wine is a relatively new release (spring 2010). It’s delicious now but has the structure and balance to drink well for another 5-8 more years. Whether you drink it alone or pair it with a juicy burger as I did you’ll find that this is another delicious wine from Collier Falls.

Dutcher Crossing – 2007 Charles F. Mathy Tribute Cabernet Sauvignon

September 1, 2010

The Facts:

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 Dutcher Crossing 2007 Charles F. Mathy Tribute is a Cabernet Sauvignon. In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon from Mountain Terraces Vineyard there is some Syrah from Atlas Peak and Merlot from Nelson Vineyard blended in as well. This wine was produced in limited quantities and sells for $39.

Gabe’s Take:

Aromas of deep, dark fruit such as plum, blackberry and currants are all present in the nose of this 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Throughout the palate the theme of black fruits continues; layer after layer of dark, juicy flavors emerge. These are both intense and well proportioned, the hallmarks of great mountain fruit. Hints of pine and black pepper spice notes both play a role in the middle and carry forward. Pencil lead, bittersweet dark chocolate and earth in particular all emerge on the lengthy and impressively persistent finish. A host of mineral and spice notes play a throat tingling role on the close as well. This wine has firm, tightly wound tannins that yield with some air.

A few things stand out for me about this Cabernet Sauvignon. First and foremost is that it’s a distinct offering in the Dutcher Crossing Portfolio. More so than the other Cabernet’s they make this one is more classically styled with bigger, firmer, structure. This wine is pretty tasty now, particularly with some air and/or paired with something substantial. My recommendation would be to drink it with a nicely marbled steak right off of your grill. If you have the patience to lay it down this wine will improve in the bottle over the next decade and drink well for several years after that. So for a very reasonable $39 you can both get a terrific wine and help a worthwhile cause. You can’t ask for more than that. Order this through the Dutcher Crossing Website or buy it in their tasting room.

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 >>>