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Saturday, 28 January 2017 18:37

Wine Pick of the Week

Dry Creek Vineyard 2016 CheninBlanc Picmonkey

2016 Dry Chenin Blanc


Dry Creek Vineyard


Alcohol: 13%

Suggested Retail: $15

Saturday, 08 August 2015 14:36

August 7, 2015 Wine Pick of the Week

Dry Creek V Chenin Bottle home shot Picmonkey

2014 Dry Chenin Blanc


Dry Creek Vineyard


Alcohol: 13%

Suggested Retail: $12


“Perhaps no winery has done a greater job with Chenin Blanc over the years than Dry Creek Vineyard. Though their winery is in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County, they get their Chenin Blanc grapes from the Clarksburg appellation, which is inland and just southwest of the City of Sacramento. To be more specific, the fruit comes from the Wilson Ranch, which is run by a family that has been farming in this area for generations.

“Chenin Blanc is a significant variety in the Loire Valley of France, where it is made into sparkling wines and still wines of varying degrees of sweetness. Once widely-planted in the Napa Valley, this grape fell out of favor as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon surged in popularity. American consumers are fortunate that Dry Creek Vineyard and a handful other California wineries kept their commitment to Chenin Blanc.

“This week’s ‘Pick,’ the 2014 Dry Chenin Blanc, actually has just a hint of sweetness in it (residual sugar measured at .6%). As with quality German Rieslings, the sugar is appropriate and balanced by a high acidity level. The net effect is a very spritely wine that is suitable as an apéritif or as a complement to many main courses. The aroma is reminiscent of white peaches, nectarines and melon. The taste reprises those fruits against a backdrop of subtle minerality. The overall effect is one of freshness, clean flavors and a hard-to-define ‘brightness.’ “

Food Affinity: “Your reviewer was a frequent judge at an annual contest pairing wines with oysters that was organized by Seattle's John Rowley. Entries included Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays and a few other white varieties. After the entrants had been pared considerably in preliminary rounds, we judges were charged with surveying dozens of the remaining wines to come up the 10 best for oysters. It seemed the Dry Creek Chenin Blanc was always on the list. So, though perfect with oysters, you could also pour with trout almandine, or that wonderful French goat cheese that comes in a pyramid shape and is covered with ashes--or any similar cheese from one of California’s artisan cheesemakers. But the food needn’t be exotic. This wine would also be great with any American grandma’s fried chicken recipe.”

Chenin Blanc Tasters at Revolution PicmonkeyClose inspections before the first sips

TASTE News Service May 23, 2014 - Chenin Blanc may be considered the signature grape of Clarksburg.

Though trendier varieties account for more vineyard acreage in the Clarksburg region, this area just southwest of Sacramento is believed to be one of the few areas in the world capable of producing great Chenin Blanc. Grown in other parts of the world, too—most notably in France's Loire Valley and in South Africa, where it was first planted in 1655 and is also known as “Steen,” this white wine variety is versatile and can be made into sparkling wine, both dry and off-dry table wine styles and even late-harvest dessert wines.

On Tuesday, Chenin fans in the know visited Revolution, an urban winery near the corner of 29th and S Streets in Sacramento, where they had opportunity to sample an array of Chenin Blanc wines. All were grown in the Clarksburg area, though some were actually vinified by wineries in other parts of the state. While Revolution Wines also makes other varieties, its overall production is small. Their 2013 Chenin Blanc (about 300 cases produced) scored quite a coup recently when it was chosen as one of the 10 best West Coast wines to enjoy with oysters. The annual competition, sponsored by Taylor Shellfish in Washington, is usually dominated by leaner versions of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, with an occasional Pinot Grigio or Semillon in the mix. A frequent winner in past years has been a Chenin Blanc made from Clarksburg fruit by the Sonoma's Dry Creek Vineyard. This year Dry Creek was not among the top ten, but Revolution's entry was. It was poured at the Sacramento tasting, as were Chenin Blancs made in various styles from other producers. A few of them blended with the white Rhône grape Viognier showed a more aromatic side to their personalites.

Slow Food rep and David Baker PicmonkeyCharity Kenyon of Slow Food and David Baker share concerns about sustainability

One of the sponsors of this tasting was GRAS, an acronym for “Green Restaurant Alliance Sacramento,” whose mission includes educating both the public and the restaurant community about sustainable practices for the restaurant industry. David Baker, who heads the wine program for Selland's Market and Café, is also the director and a co-founder of GRAS and has the ambitious goal of returning all the community's restaurant waste to the land via composting.


Editor's note: Want to learn more about this wine region? In the Central Valley sections of Taste California Travel's Resource Directory you will find links to the websites of Clarksburg and Delta wineries, as well as links to hundreds of Lodging and Dining options in the Sacramento area. The Directory has recently added a section for craft beer purveyors, too.

Friday, 10 January 2014 23:19

January 10, 2013 Wine Pick of the Week


Twisted Rivers Primitivo bottle Picmonkey

2011 Primitivo


Producer: Twisted Rivers

Appellation: Clarksburg (California)

Alcohol: 14%

Suggested Retail:


“Bright cherry and raspberry aspects from this wine made from the Primitivo grape, a 'close cousin' to the more familiar Zinfandel. The fruit comes from the Clarksburg AVA, an area just south of Sacramento, and has been vinified by Gary Branham, a veteran California winemaker, who has made great Sonoma Zinfandels under his own Branham Estate label. In the background of that cherry/berry flavor is a subtle brambly and slightly spicy undertone reminiscent of white pepper. This is a medium-bodied wine and much more food-friendly than syrupy, high-alcohol reds.”

Food Affinity: “Pizza, Italian dishes incorporating tomatoes or tomato sauces, dry-rubbed barbecued ribs, enchiladas with a bit of heat.”

Friday, 25 January 2013 22:13

January 04, 2013 Wine Pick of the Week

Dry Creek 2011 Chenin Blanc Bottle Picmonkey

2011 Dry Chenin Blanc


Producer: Dry Creek Vineyard

Appellation: Clarksburg

Alcohol: 12.5%

Suggested Retail: $12


“Dry Creek Vineyard is situated, fittingly enough, in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County, but for years the winery has sourced Chenin Blanc grapes from an area more than a two-hour drive to the southeast. Clarksburg's vineyards lie along the banks of the Sacramento River just south of the State Captiol. Other grape varieties grown there produce good quality wines, but Chenin Blanc is the star of their show. Once very popular in California when made in a slightly sweet style, Chenin Blanc fell out of favor a couple of decades ago. What a shame. Wines like this dry Chenin Blanc merit comparison to examples from France's Loire Valley. They're worthy alternatives to the ubiquitous Chardonnay and much more affordable, but they deserve recognition for their own qualities.”

“The 2011 Dry Creek Chenin Blanc exhibits aromas of melon, with a little peach and citrus. Crisp and clean favors reminiscent of apple and citrus are there. Serve chilled, but not too col, so that the minerality will show through.”

Food Affinity: Would be fine with many chicken and fish dishes and even lighter treatments of veal. It's an absolutely wonderful choice with oysters and has been a frequent winner in a nationwide oyster and wine pairing competition sponsored by Washington's Taylor Shellfish Company.

Old Sugar Mill PicmonkeyEarly fall visitors taste at the Sugar Mill.The Old Sugar Mill wine mall has added two area wineries -- Due Vigne di Famiglia and The Dragon & Chicken, home of Draconis Wines by Matt Powell -- making a total of ten tasting rooms. "This makes us a major U.S. wine destination," according to John Beckman, General Manager of the Mill and president of the Clarksburg Wine Company. They join Carvalho Family Winery, Clarksburg Wine Company, Elevation Ten, Heringer Estates, Merlo Family Vineyards, Rendezvous Winery, Three Wine Company and Todd Taylor Wines.

Beckman said, “When Sacramentans think of wine and wine country, we want them to think of the Old Sugar Mill first. The addition of these two fine wineries just adds to the breadth and depth of our existing and outstanding offerings for our guests. And while we love when folks come out here to spend the day, we are so close to downtown and midtown, you can come out here at the spur of the moment – no advance planning required!”

Due Vigne di Famiglia wines are produced by two area families: the Mussos with a generation of growing Italian varietals in El Dorado County; and the Houle family, which uses Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and Malbec for classic Cabernet and Meritage bottlings. Musso family wines include the rare Dolcetto and Nebbiolo varieties, plus Primitivo, Barbera and Petite Syrah, a Clarksburg area specialty.Draconis Winery barrell sample Picmonkey Taking Draconis barrel sample.

Draconis by Matt Powell has its first public sales site at the Mill. According to Powell, Draconis has been an "underground winery -- known only to its mailing list -- and for its crafted, handmade wines in the old style" by its Burgundian-trained winemaker. Known for intense and silky smoothness, the wines are made in the "Reductionist" style, specializing in 100 percent Zinfandel, Petite Syrah and Syrah.Beckman added, "Matt Powell is pioneering the use of our large attractive campus by new wineries who will be moving in; it's the first winery not in the Gallery itself. We're seeing the kind of strolling that you find downtown."

The Old Sugar Mill has seen three years of increased traffic for events and winery sales, Beckman said. "We're a go-to site for everyone in the Sacramento area and are drawing from the Bay Area and throughout the state."

The Old Sugar Mill is located at 35265 Willow Avenue in the historic town of Clarksburg, fifteen minutes southwest of the Capitol building in Sacramento. Open seven days a week; individual wineries' hours vary. For further information on wineries and events visit www.oldsugarmill.com.


Sources at PRWeb contributed to this article.


Editor's note: Visiting wineries in California? Taste California Travel's Resource Directory contains links to the websites of all of the state's wineries, as well as links to thousands of Lodging and Dining options.

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