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