Highlights from my first Passport to Dry Creek Valley

It was a beautiful wine, food, and fun-filled weekend for the 22nd Annual Passport to Dry Creek Valley (“Passport”) with fabulous weather (in fact we were told by Jack Florence of Florence Ranch, who has been growing Dry Creek Valley for 35 years, that it has never rained Passport weekend)! 

As expected, our original plan to go to ten wineries over Saturday and Sunday ( Amista,  Mauritson, Mazzocco, Michel-Schlumberger, Ridge, Alderbrook Frick, Mounts, Seghesio, Unti) morphed into visiting 15 of the 46 wineries ( we also went to Dutcher Crossing, Bella Vineyard and Wine Caves, Armida, Dry Creek Vineyards, and Quivira).  I tasted 75 wines over the two days, the vast majority of which were very good to excellent, had some great food, and enjoyed the entertainment offered.  My Top 10 most memorable of the wines were:

Ginormous corkscrew at Bella

Reds:

2005 Ridge Grenache (88% Grenache, 6% Petite Sirah, 6% Zinfandel) - Aromas: Dusty cherries; Palate: cherries, spice.  Balanced with a medium finish – 88pts

2007 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel (71% Zinfandel, 22% Petite Sirah, and 7% Carignane) – Aromas: Wonderful aromatics of dark fruit, spice, vanilla and a bit of pepper;  Palate: Blackberries and raspberries with good balance, and long finish – 91 pts

2008 Quivira MourvèdreAromas: Plums, blackberries cloves, and touch bacon Palate: Plums, blackberries, vanilla and cloves w/medium finish – 88 pts

2008 Quivira Elusive (34% Syrah, 32% Grenache, 28% Mourvedre, 6% Petite Sirah) – Aromas: Dark fruit and black cherries  Palate:  Dark fruit and strawberries, with good balance and finish- 89 pts

2007 Seghesio Home Ranch Petite Sirah;  Aromas: Spicy blueberries, and a bit of oak Palate: black raspberries, vanilla, and mineral. Fine-grained tannins provide that little bit of “grip” I like. Fruity, but not overly so. Young, but tasty! – 88 pts

2oo8 Seghesio San Lorenzo Zinfandel (84% Zinfandel, 12% Petite Sirah, 2% Carignane, 1% Alicante and 1% Grand Noir); Aromas: Dark fruit, spice Palate: blackberries, cocoa, and spice. Good balance with a lengthy finish. Paired with Seafood Gumbo – Off the Chain!  - 90 pts

2008 Mauritson Rockpile “Buck Pasture” Red Wine (45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Cabernet Franc, 18% Merlot, 13% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot); Aromas: Cherries, black currant and vanilla;  Palate: Cherries, black currant, mocha;  surprisingly excellent paired with Chocolate Caramel Tartlets with dark chocolate shell, maldon sea salt caramel – 89 pts

Whites:

2009 Quivira Fig Tree Sauvignon Blanc (88% Sauvignon Blanc, 12% Sauvignon Musque – S/S fermented); Aromas: Melon and citrus Palate: Melon, citrus and subtle fig. Good balance and a decent finishThis one wasn’t citrus-ey and grassy as were most we tasted. Very nice effort! – 87 pts

2008 Frick Grenache Blanc, Owl Hill Vineyard; Aromas: Peach and stone fruit, Palate: Peaches with subtle vanilla flavor, great mouth feel! Superbly paired with “Green Goddess Seafood Nachos” from foodwishes.com (Click here for photos of food pairings at Frick) made with Dungeness crab, shrimp & lobster cream cheese, Green Goddess dressing on a green avocado chip! -  88 pts

2008 Dutcher Crossing Stuhlmuller Vineyard Chardonnay;  Aromas: Buttery with a touch of tropical aromas  Palate: Buttery apple and vanilla; Nice job of integrating buttery flavor and texture without oak being overwhelming – 88 pts

And that was just the wine!  As I mentioned in my previous post, Passport is about wine, food, and entertainment. Other categories of highlights for me include:

  • “Winery I could have stayed all day”;  Seghesio – hands down!  Wonderful wines, food, and best entertainment of the event for me.  It was a taste of ‘Nawlins in Cali with ample servings of Tasso Shrimp Fettuccini, Seafood Gumbo with Andouille Sausage, Cajan BBQ Ribs, and Beignets, and serving hot music laid down by Andre Thierry & Zydeco Magic!  Seghesio is the reason we went to fewer wineries on Sunday, than Saturday!

Andre Thierry & Zydeco Magic performing at Seghesio

  • “Put your money where you mouth is”;  We purchased wines from Quivira, Frick and Bella
  • “See you again next year”;  Seghesio, Quivira, Frick, Mauritson, and Ridge
  • “Best Wine and Food Pairings”; Frick, Mauritson, Seghesio, and Quivira
  • “Most unusual wine”; Was a good 20 year old Cab  from Michel-Schlumberger – still a bit tannic after all these years!

We had a great time and will be back next year, as they say in the South, “Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise”  ;-)

In Vino Veritas!

My First Passport to Dry Creek Valley

Vineyards in the California wine region of the...

Image via Wikipedia

Our first big wine event of 2011 is Passport to Dry Creek Valley (“Passport”) the forthcoming weekend – April 30th, and May 1st.  This is our first Passport. According to the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley (“WDCV”) the association putting on the event…

Passport to Dry Creek Valley™ is an annual event showcasing the wineries, vineyards and exceptional beauty of Dry Creek Valley. There are 60+ wineries and 150 growers in the Dry Creek Valley, producing a variety of wines to please any palate. Wineries up and down Dry Creek Valley celebrate the magic of their valley with wine, food, entertainment and the hospitality for which Dry Creek Valley is famous. Many wineries offer either live music or entertainment…

I think what makes this event special is the combination of wine, food, and entertainment.  This year there are 46 participating wineries, each with various activities.  The event is from 11 am to 4:30 pm daily, so it would be virtually impossible to go to all 46 wineries over a two day period (unless you decided to sprint from winery to winery and stayed at each winery for less than 15 minutes) Besides, with an event like this with wine, food pairing, and entertainment, I think it’s best to take one’s time, and enjoy it, and running from place to place  wouldn’t be that enjoyable for us.  We’re talking quality here, not quantity!

The initial plan is to hit 5 wineries a day, and I was looking for diversity in varietals being poured, favorite foods, entertainment, and also mostly wanted to visit wineries we haven’t been too before (with a few favorites we’ve enjoyed before)  Of course, no plan survives battle. I expect as the day unfolds, we’ll roll with the punches and see what happens! So which wineries did I pick? Without further ado, here’s the hit list:

Amista – All American Diner theme; Chef John Franchetti of Rosso serving up Truffled Sausage Sliders and Mac & Cheese with arugula and prosciutto.

Mauritson – Acclaimed Chef Charlie Palmer is enough for me, but on top of that barrel tasting and single-vineyard Rockpile wines!

Mazzocco – Our starting point; Cuban theme with big band salsa beat of Orquesta Borinquen, and Cuban foods paired with their wines.

Michel-Schlumberger – Great property with “Take Me Out To the Benchlands” theme.  Live music with Carlos Herrera Band.

Ridge – World-class Zins, and single vineyard Rhone blends paired with Slow Braised Beef Short Ribs Sliders!

Alderbrook – Caribbean theme; Pigs and Pinot, and Zins in the Tiki Lounge. And how can you go wrong with a tropical music and a Conga line?!

Frick – Pouring unique Rhone varietals such as Grenache Blanc, Cinsault, Counoise, along with Grenache.

Mounts – Middle Easter theme; Persian food paired with Petite Sirah, Zin, and Malbec. Oh and belly dancing!

Seghesio – Cajun theme, including Zydeco music; Cajun BBQ Ribs, Seafood Gumbo, Tasso Shrimp Fettuccini paired with great Zins and Italian varietals.

Unti – Live music with a Saskatoon guitarist; wines include highly regarded Rosé, Rhone, and Italian varietals.

In addition to these wineries, I’ve also got my eye on Quivira, Talty (may have to swing by here just for the Zinfandel Cherry Chipotle Lamb tacos!). I’ll let you know how it goes!

In Vino Veritas!