What's great in wine, beer, fine dining,
places to stay, & places to visit
in California State

December 18, 2015 Wine Pick of the Week

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Dry Creek Vnyd 2013 OldVine Zinfandel bottle rgb1 Picmonkey2013 Old Vine Zinfandel

 

Dry Creek Vineyard

Dry Creek Valley

Alcohol: 14.5%

Suggested Retail: $32

 

“Some issues here could be confusing. Dry Creek Vineyard and Dry Creek Valley might sound redundant. And ‘Old Vine Zinfandel’ sounds good, but what does that really mean?

“Opening this bottle at dinner with a relative, I was asked if it had any connection to the Dry Creek Ranch golf course. It doesn’t, but the question wasn’t unreasonable since the course is located on the northern fringe of Lodi, an area south of Sacramento that is known to produce good Zinfandel.

”There may be as many ‘Dry Creeks’ in America as there are ‘Bass Lakes,’ but this wine comes from the Dry Creek Valley AVA and there’s only one of those. An American Viticultural Area (AVA) is a winegrape growing region recognized by the U.S. Government. The grapes for this bottle of wine were grown in the Dry Creek Valley AVA, which is located in Sonoma County about 70 miles north of San Francisco. People have been growing Zinfandel grapes there since the 19th Century. Dry Creek Vineyard is a winery in that area begun by Dave Stare in 1972. Though it makes wine from other varieties, it is best known for its  Fumé Blanc and its Zinfandel and in 1987 was the first winery to begin using the term ‘Old Vine Zinfandel.’

“Why old vines? Most winemakers feel that fruit from older vines may yield more character than that of younger vines. Though there’s no official definition of how old is ‘old,’ the vineyards supplying grapes for this week’s wine average 95 years of age. They are dry-farmed (not irrigated) and their deep roots have had a long time to adapt to their locations. Their gnarly, head-trained vines planted long ago yield less fruit than younger vines trained to grow along wire trellises. They are less efficient to farm, but produce a better product.

“The redesigned label for this Old Vine Zin is said by the winery to evoke the looks of a steamship ticket from the 1920s. Of course, the outside of the bottle has no effect on the taste of what’s inside. Or does it? Grapes harvested in earlier vintages from some of these same vines would have gone into bottles opened celebrating the opening of the Pan-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915, the return of doughboys from France in 1919, Lindbergh landing at Le Bourget in 1927. A little acknowledgement of history when pulling the cork of an Old Vine Zin seems appropriate to us. If a label helps set the mood for really enjoying a good bottle of wine, then it may indeed enhance the experience.

“Some consumers introduced to Zinfandel in recent years may have only experienced high alcohol, almost-syrupy treatments of the variety. Though this style has been popular with some, to us it seems a perversion of Zinfandel’s traditional qualities. For us, the 2013 Old Vine from Dry Creek Vineyard is what Zin is all about. The nose shows aromas of raspberries and blueberries and some spice, which comes across like finely ground white pepper and maybe a little nutmeg or cardomom. On the palate there is a surfeit of berries—blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Also cherries. The peppery/spicy quotient is even more apparent after the wine has been open a while. There is also a presence of vanilla from the oak barrel aging.

“Often wineries will publish comments of the winemaker about a newly released wine. In this case his remarks include, ‘This is thoughtful Zinfandel – the kind of wine that requires some good jazz and a fantastic book for a long evening of enjoyment.’ O.K., your reviewer will play along. Thinking of that steamship in the 1920’s any number of books written during—or about that era, would be possible and I could enjoy hearing Bix Beiderbecke or early Louis Armstrong recordings, but jazz of that era doesn’t strike me as background for reading. How about moving forward toward the end of the next decade? I’ve been reading a collection of Winston Churchill’s speeches, edited by his grandson. This Zinfandel has honesty and power, as did the Prime Minister as he led Britain into the inevitable showdown with Nazi Germany. I share the winemaker’s opinion that this Old Vine Zinfandel shows “elegance and sophistication,’ so maybe some musical selections from this era would be appropriate: Things like Ellington’s “Take the A Train,” Billy Strayhorn’s “Chelsea Bridge” and ”Body & Soul” by Coleman Hawkins,

Food Affinity: “Enjoyed with grilled shoulder lamb chops and Chilean asparagus.”