Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tasting Dry Creek Valley Red Blends

It's that time again, where I recap another fun virtual tasting. This time it was with McCue Communications presenting the wines of the Dry Creek Valley. Once again it was a small group of bloggers participating, along with the winemakers from each of the three wineries. The wineries were a veritable who's who of Dry Creek producers, with histories stretching back through the decades.

The Dry Creek Valley AVA in Sonoma County, established in 1983, grows a wide variety of grapes. Grapes have been grown there since the late 1800's though, so the region is no stranger to high quality wines.

Chief among them are zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon. That said, a lot of wine geeks these days are interested in the Rhone varietals grown throughout the Valley. Syrah, cinsault, grenache, and mourvedre dominate the Rhone grapes, supported by carignan, petit sirah, marsanne, roussanne, and viognier.

Luckily, with over 50 wineries throughout the AVA, finding great wine is very easy. The three producers represented here all have rich histories and represent the authenticity that is so often lacking in other parts of California.

2006 Teldeschi Estate Reserve Terraluna Dry Creek Valley: Dark and smoky at first, lots of black plum, blackberry, oak and peppery spices. As it opens up, more tart red berry fruit comes out to balance that riper dark fruited element. I love the density on the palate, it's at once concentrated with red fruit and pepper yet retains a sense of lightness and excellent acidity. There's just a "pretty" quality to the wine that I absolutely loved. Carignane 40%, Valdigue 36%, Petite Sirah 24% 13.9% abv. Recommended.

2012 Amista "Tres" Dry Creek Valley: Opens with mild reduction that needs a few moments to blow off. That gives way to smoky/savory notes of jerky, red cherry, garrigue, and a fennel note on the end. Cool and grippy on the palate, this continues with the smoky/savory theme, buttressed by tart cherry and raspberry, oak, and hints of orange rind. With air, menthol and some barnyard starts to show up, but they're still subtle compared to the exuberant fruit. On the finish there's a dusty soil-plus mocha element that serves to clean up the palate. 34% Grenache, 33% Syrah, 33% Mourvèdre. 14.9% abv. Recommended.

2010 Frick Cotes du Dry Creek Dry Creek Valley: A dead ringer for Southern Rhone on the nose, with the grenache component going full speed ahead. It's all about bright cherries and strawberries, wild herbs, subtle oak, and dusty minerality. Cherry licorice comes through with some swirling. The aromas are so compelling that I actually held off tasting for a bit. Once I did, the firm tannins were a welcome foil to the bright, concentrated fruit. Again it echoes the southern Rhone Valley to me, because it's so fresh and pure. A tannic, drying finish cleans everything up, readying you for the next sip or bite. Syrah 40%, Grenache 40%, Cinsault 20%. 15.3% abv. Highly recommended.

At the end of this tasting I was struck by the high quality of each wine tasted. They expressed a very nice sense of place as well as their respective vintages. Each vintner was passionate about what they grow and produce, which left me feeling a connection to the wines as I tasted through them.

To buy any of these, visit the winery websites or better yet, the wineries themselves!

Teldeschi Winery Website
Amista Winery Website
Frick Winery Website

Thanks to McCue Communications for inviting me along and thanks to the winemakers for taking time to sit down and answer our questions.

These wines were samples received for this tasting.

Beau Carufel

1 comment:

  1. Beau, thanks for being part of the virtual tasting and sharing your tasting notes. We're excited about the Rhone wines that are being made in Dry Creek and glad that through people like you, more people are hearing about them. Come taste with us for real next time you're in Dry Creek.