Wine of the Week: Dutcher Creek Bernier-Sibary Vineyard 2008 Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma

Jan 14

You may be surprised to find me reviewing a California wine (which I don’t think I’ve done here before). However, we can’t grow zinfandel on a sustainable basis here in the East, and when it’s done very well, I’d like to share it with zin fans and those who may become same. I’m a big zin fan (especially in January and February, and today the winter winds are howling, and I’m running for cover, and need this to complement the lasagna I’m pulling out of the oven! Red Bordeaux stuff won’t work for this occasion.)

This is a small artisanal winery and this wine is a limited production of 315 cases. Maybe what I like most about it is that it’s a field blend of 75% zinfandel (just enough for legal varietal designation),   petite sirah,  carignane and  mataro/mourvedre, all head-pruned vines.  Sound familiar? That’s very similar to the varietal proportions in Ridge Vineyards’ “Geyserville” label (from which the varietal designation is deliberately removed as it’s all about the vineyard and the field blend).

This wine took awhile to open up, but when it did, I was impressed with the finesse, the expression of terroir, and the balance of components. And while the wine is a hefty 14.8% alcohol, I never noticed it; it was just another integrated component.

First, the nose; dried fruits, herbs and spices, most reminding me of fennel, sage and dried red cherries, with some white (not black) pepper. Fragrant and elegant despite the high proof! Palate: smooth entry, fine integration, no planky new oak or heavy coarse texture. Nice briar fruits, with lots of anise/licorice and then spicy black fruits and a fresh lingering finish. Who knew zinfandel (OK a blend) from Dry Creek could be this elegant at this alcohol level?  Any of you Old World terroirists out there who are skeptics about zin should look into this. It may not be still available in the 2008 vintage, but if they did so well with this I’d trust them with what else they have.


Jan 14

[This newsflash in from the Virginia Wine Marketing Office]

Richmond, VA – January 13, 2012 – Twenty-two awards went to Virginia wines at the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition last week, including one Best in Class and one Double Gold. This competition is the largest competition of American wines in the world.

The list of winners was released on Friday, January 6th, at which point Barboursville Vineyards learned that they not only won awards for their 2010 Viognier Reserve and their 2007 Octagon, but that their 2008 Cabernet Franc Reserve won Best in Class for Cabernet Franc, the highest award within each category. The Barboursville 2008 Cabernet Franc Reserve placed above 97 other entrants in Cabernet Franc, from California, Washington, New York, and also Virginia.

Barrel Oak Vineyards also won an outstanding 5 medals for their 2009 Cabernet Franc, 2009 Petit Verdot, 2010 Chardonnay Reserve, 2010 Chardonnay, and 2010 Viognier. Within the category of Chardonnay in the $25.00-$29.99 price range, the Barrel Oak 2010 Chardonnay Reserve won a Double Gold medal out of 89 medals awarded.

Other Virginia wineries who won medals at this competition include Barren Ridge Vineyards, Doukenie Winery, Gray Ghost Vineyards, Keswick Vineyards, Philip Carter Winery, and Rappahannock Cellars.

The 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition set a new record for American wine competitions this year with 5,500 entries. There were 65 judges from around the country who participated in the evaluation of these wines. A public tasting of many of the winners will take place in San Francisco on February 18, 2012.

For a complete list of Virginia medals in the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, visit A full list of results can be found on

Hudson Valley Wines Score Big With Wine Enthusiast magazine

Jan 12

For the first time ever, Wine Enthusiast magazine coordinated tasting of some of the best wines of the Hudson Valley of New York. The wines scored high on the magazine’s 100-point scale, and proved that the Hudson Valley is emerging region with wines that can compete in the international wine market.

The Hudson Valley is one of the oldest producing wine regions in the United States, and New York State is the third overall producer of wine in the U.S. But with the influx of new money, talent, and drive over the last five years, the region is growing at a fast pace, and producing a number of highly rated bright, flavorful whites, and approachable (low-tannin) reds.

Wine Enthusiast editors tasted more than 20 Hudson Valley wines that earned scores of 85-89 points consistently across seven producers. This is the first major tasting of the region by any major news outlet, and helps to establish the region as a producer of fine quality wines.

“We are thrilled with the results,” said Hudson Valley Wine Country president Carlo DeVito, also owner of Hudson-Chatham Winery. “The Hudson Valley is a great example of some of the excellent wines New York state produces. Our passion and commitment to making quality wines has been recognized. We think this highlights what we’ve been doing here – the Hudson Valley is making wines that can compete anywhere.”

The Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, Cabernet Francs, and Baco Noirs all scored very well, and highlight a region which produces wines that showcase great food wines that are forward fruit, and feature bright acids, medium-to-low tannins, and long finishes in a more European tradition. Hudson Valley wines can be found all across the state, and are featured in numerous stores and restaurants throughout the city.

To find out more, all the scores are available on the magazine’s website in their ratings area, and on other Hudson Valley websites such as:


The Hudson Valley is America’s oldest wine making and grape-growing region.  Less than an hour and a half from New York City, Hudson Valley wineries and wine trails offer hospitable winery tasting rooms, where consumers can often meet the owners in-person and taste award-winning wines made from classic European varieties, regional hybrids and even delicious fruit wines. The Hudson Valley features more than 40 wineries and three trails: The Dutchess Wine Trail, The Hudson-Berkshire Beverage Trail, and the Shawangunk Trail.

Virginia Chosen by Wine Enthusiast as one of Five Top Wine Destinations for 2012

Jan 05

Wine Enthusiast, a leading U.S. consumer wine publication, has announced its top 10 wine destinations for 2012 in its February and online editions. Among the ten, Virginia is listed as being in the top five, in the prestigious company of the Champagne region of France, Santa Barbara, California; the Tokaj region of Hungary; and Central Otago in New Zealand. “Historically significant sites, picturesque pastoral landscapes, elegant equestrians and affable winemakers set Virginia apart as an excellent wine destination on the East Coast,” writes Alexis Korman of reasons why Virginia was chosen.  “With six AVAs and nearly 200 wineries to explore in every part of the state, a comprehensive visit is nearly impossible.” Other regions mentioned include the Mosel River Valley in Germany, the Colchagua Valley of Chile, and Priorat-Cambrils in eastern Spain.

“Virginia is in excellent company in this list of Wine Enthusiast’s 10 best wine travel destinations for 2012, and I applaud our wineries and wine makers on this achievement,” said Governor Bob McDonnell. “We are well on our way to being recognized as the premiere wine destination of the East Coast, which is one of my administration’s top agricultural and tourism priorities. I have great confidence that this article will bring even more tourists to visit our wineries across the state and continue to build our reputation as the ideal travel destination for people who love to try new wines.”

Raising the profile of Virginia wines and wine tourism are key components of the governor’s economic development and jobs creation initiatives. “With our history, beautiful scenery, and ability to create world class wines, Virginia deserves to be recognized alongside the other amazing international wine regions listed in Wine Enthusiast,” said Todd P. Haymore, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry.

It is estimated that approximately one million people include a visit to a Virginia winery while visiting the state. Sales of Virginia wine reached a record high in fiscal year 2011 with more than 462,000 cases sold. This figure marked a sales increase of more than 11 percent over the previous fiscal year.  Visit to learn more about wine travel in Virginia or call 1-800-VISITVA to request a free, Virginia is for Lovers Travel guide.