The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2015

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Page 32 of 136

32  /  the tasting panel  /  june 2015 OVER THE TABLE Tasting Highlights Collier Falls 2012 Zinfandel, Hillside Estate, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma ($36) Consulting winemaker Marco DiGuilio produces this bright wine, which is lofty, showing candied red fruit, red floral notes, integrated oak, coffee and tobacco notes on the finish. Quivira 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Fig Tree Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma ($24) Produced from the Musqué clone, all native yeast ferment with some neutral oak and acacia wood aging give weight to the wine, while grassy notes mingle with lime zest, underscored by racy acidity and a salty seashell character. Kokomo 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Timber Crest Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma ($22) This 100% Musqué clone serves up lychee, lime zest and stone fruit, with chalk-like mineral character and mouth- watering acidity—slightly fleshy from barrel ageing. Truett-Hurst 2013 "Luci" Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma ($35) A nose of mocha and blast of red berry, weighty on the palate, chewy tannins, dark berries and cocoa on a lengthy finish. I n 1869, the first vineyard was planted in Dry Creek Valley; by the end of the 1880s, there were just over 50 vineyard sites, mainly planted with Zinfandel. Today, more than 9,000 acres are planted to vine and over 70 wineries are producing an array of varieties from Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon, Rhône white varieties, Montepulciano and more. On a recent visit, I tasted an array of wines with Cindi Howley, General Manager of Truett-Hurst Winery; Andrew Fegelman, Marketing Director of Quivira Winery; Randy Peters, grower and partner of Kokomo Winery; and Barry Collier, owner of Collier Falls Winery and Vice President of the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley association. "We're much more laid back here," Collier told me. "It's not a corporately- driven valley. Most owners are multigenerational families who live here and most produce less than 5,000 cases. People stay longer when visiting, they ask a lot of questions—they want to know what you've done in life." My questioning dug up some interesting back-stories on Fegelman, who was a journalist with the Chicago Tribune, and Collier, who produced B-movies for HBO, Showtime, USA Network and Turner. Peters, a fourth- generation grower, dialed it back to the vines. "We have extreme tempera- ture variances, so we can raise different varieties like Malbec and Merlot," he explained. "Our Zinfandels are special for that dark cherry flavor, which is coaxed out by the Cortina gravely loam that runs along Dry Creek and West Dry Creek Road." "And the higher up you go," chimed in Collier, "it turns to red clay, or 'Dry Creek conglomerate,' and then it changes to sandy loam at the top. So, I grow Zinfandel at 300 feet and Cabernet at 1,000 feet." Spotlight on Dry Creek Valley You'll be reminded of the famous Lompoc Wine Ghetto with a stop at the Family Wineries Dry Creek Cooperative Tasting Room. In the same vicinity: Kokomo Winery, Amphora Winery, Dry Creek Olive Oil Company and others. story and photos by Jonathan Cristaldi

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