2007 Dry Creek Valley Syrah
Syrah •Gravity Flow Block Bradford Mountain
California: Sonoma County: Dry Creek Valley
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Mission Codename: Newton’s Pride
Operative: Agent Red – with guest reviewer, Agent Eiswein
Objective: Return to our good friends at Peterson Winery, in Sonoma County’s pristine Dry Creek Valley, secure their newest Gravity Flow Syrah, a stupendous wine that is an Agent Red favorite.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Peterson Winery
Wine Subject: 2007 Syrah Bradford Mountain Vineyard Gravity Flow Block
Winemaker: Jamie Peterson
Backgrounder: Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley is a treasure trove of great wines. Today’s selection is from our friends at Peterson Winery and the Bradford Mountain Vineyard – which is located on the western edge of DCV where its higher elevation and unique soil composition have a divine influence on the grapes grown there.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – A lovely, jeweled garnet and purple with a light pink rim, stained tears and medium legs.
Smell – A rich nose of fruit and earth. Black raspberry, blackberry jam, dried blueberry and cherry mingle with notes of dried leaves, leather, soil, chocolate, smoke and briar.
Feel – A medium to full bodied wine which is very smooth across the mid-palate, with bright acidity in the cheeks and medium tannins along the gum-line.
Taste – The rich black dried and jammy fruits which echo the nose sing out in the mouth. These are followed by a flavors of chocolate and tobacco.
Finish – This wine lingers long, with a beautiful balance of fruits, chocolate, acid and tannin. In the end, those rich fruits linger longest.
Conclusion – The 2007 Syrah Bradford Mountain Vineyard is a delicious wine, especially for those who love a wine that is rich and fruity, but also nicely balanced, smooth and elegant. We are such ardent fans of Jamie and Fred Peterson and we have come to admire their skillful growing, along with their fantastic winemaking style and ability. Their wines are always a true pleasure to imbibe. Today’s Gravity Flow Syrah is an easy pairing wine that can hold up to bold foods, especially fatty, juicy flavorful steaks and even bbq. Enjoy!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Jamie Peterson
DATE OF BIRTH: March 20, 1981
PLACE OF BIRTH: Saratoga, CA (Mt. Eden Vineyards)
WINE EDUCATION: Ongoing, on-the-job. UC Davis Extension chemistry/lab analysis/viticulture classes.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Grew up in Peterson Winery, helping with odd jobs in the winery and vineyard as a teenager. Worked first harvest at 19, and then traveled to Australia and New Zealand to work harvest in 2001. took over as Assistant Winemaker at Peterson Winery in 2002. Given full Winemaker responsibility in 2006. 13 harvests under the belt at age 29.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: “Zero Manipulation”/Minimal intervention, letting the vineyard and vintage show through in each bottling. No fining, no filtration. Minimal new oak usage, minimal additions and SO2 use.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel (but his Syrah is amazing)
WINEMAKER QUOTE: ”If it ain’t got the root, it ain’t got the fruit.”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: For Peterson Winery- 1991. For Jamie- 2002 Vintage, released in 2004
AGENT RED: Greetings, Jamie. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Syrah, today. We love the wine!! Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today. And, thanks for making such amazing wines!
JAMIE: As always, it’s great to be back with The Wine Spies.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
JAMIE: It’d be hard to pick one. Growing up with the sights, sounds, and smells of the winery and vineyards, there were many inspirational moments. But I didn’t think I’d be getting into the life of wine as deeply as I have until I worked harvests in 2001 in Australia and New Zealand. Working closely with other winemakers and seeing the international wine community and how it ties people together made me decide to come back to the family winery and join full time in 2002.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
JAMIE: From my father, growing up in the winery, and learning on the job.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
JAMIE: I believe that vineyard and vintage driven wines are the only reason for small wineries to exist. I prefer wines from different vintages to reflect the growing season (otherwise why put the vintage on the bottle?) rather than use additives (acid, tannins, enzymes, gum arabic, overblown new oak, etc) or technological processes (filtration, alcohol removal, micro-oxygenation) to create wines that taste the same each year. I don’t filter or fine our wines, and I predominantly use native yeast fermentations and malo-lactics, so we have to keep things clean and monitor closely, as we don’t choose to use the tools for fixing mistakes that some wineries do. We source from the same vineyards each year, so there is a thread of continuity running through vintages. Our vineyards are sustainably farmed, with a few certified organic, and a number of others dry-farmed.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
JAMIE: I’m inspired by European vintners who have made wines from the same places for generations, and haven’t succumbed to commercialism.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
JAMIE: 2002 was my first full year of working with wines from grape to bottle. 2000 was the first full harvest I worked with my father. At 29, I have 13 harvests under my belt (including working in both Australia and New Zealand in 2001).
RED: Who do you make wine for?
JAMIE: I make wines for my own tastes, and then we find enough people that share our ideas and style to buy it. We don’t normally submit our wines for scoring or competitions, and instead rely on word of mouth and community to find enough supporters.
RED: Tell me, what makes the Bradford Mountain Vineyard so special?
JAMIE: Bradford Mountain Estate Vineyard, on the western edge of the Dry Creek Valley is where my dad lives, and I was raised, and where my dad planted his first vineyard in Dry Creek in 1983. The vineyard is located just south of Bradford Peak at 1,000 ft. elevation with the perfect southwest exposure. The well-drained, red clay soil of Bradford Mountain combined with sunny days and cool nights produce small, intensely flavored grapes.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
JAMIE: Realize that winemaking is both simple and complicated. It’s all just fermented grape juice, but it’s all about the details; every minute little thing you do or don’t do to the grapes or wine will affect how it turns out. Taste as much as you can and think about who you will be making wine for.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
JAMIE: We’ve finished harvest, and are seeing the wines through their secondary malo-lactic fermentation. We just finished putting together the final 2009 vintage blends (which are tasting great..), and will begin bottling some of the 2009 wines in January. We’re ordering glass, labels, and all that fun stuff.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
JAMIE: The “Gravity Flow Block” Syrah is the realization of a dream of my father’s to produce a Syrah grown on the most exposed, well-drained location on our Bradford Mountain vineyard. This rocky hillock directly behind the house on Bradford Mountain got its name from the fact that at the top sits our 10,000 gallon water tank that serves our house and garden via gravity flow. Though we had cleared the brush off the hill in the early 1990’s, it remained unplanted through the remainder of the decade as we put our efforts into our new winery business.
In March 2001, we planted the vineyard to 90% Syrah (5 clones), 8% Viognier and 2% Petite Sirah with the vines planted 3 feet apart in the row and 6 feet between rows. Though the rocky ground made digging the planting holes a pain, we dug extra large holes mixing the rocky parent soil with substantial quantities of compost to give the vines a jump-start. We trained the vines up their training stakes that year and in 2002 harvested a small crop that we blended into our Mendocino Carignane.
By co-fermenting the Syrah and Viogner in the Cote Rotie tradition, the union of aromas and flavors begins at the wine’s birth. The Viogner contributes significant yet subtle influences with its delicate floral and fruit components. The resulting wine is head spinning with seductive aromas, big chewy, juicy flavors and lots of fruit. And, at the core of this wine you’ll discover that amazing mineral essence, the trademark of Bradford Mountain terroir.
In 2007, we had large day-night temperature swings, creating wines with great ripeness, but balanced with high natural acidity. I tried some whole cluster fermentation on this wine for the first time (something we used to do when we made Pinot Noir). and the result is a much more complex, spicy wine with added tannin that should age effortlessly for 20 years.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
JAMIE: The Syrah is amazing with lamb dishes; most notably braised shanks with tomato, olives, and herbs, but also grilled lamb.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
JAMIE: I like to go mushroom hunting (for chanterelles and porcini), even though as a teenager I accidentally picked and ate Death Cap mushrooms.
RED: What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
JAMIE: Zinfandel is the wine I seem to open the most often of our own, but I also drink a lot of Rhone wines.
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
JAMIE: So many people look for the “best” wine. I always ask them “best for what?” Every wine has a place and time for appreciating (unless it just is a wine that really sucks…), and it’s more important for people to figure out what types of wine they like, and why, than what others think is the best. Trust your own palate rather than what a critic or others say.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
JAMIE: Thanks for having me, and for appreciating and featuring our wines!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Peterson Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Big, bold and beautiful—this inky gem holds enticing aromas of ripe blackberry, mineral and oak notes, and just a touch of fine-grain leather. The firm structure offers intense, concentrated flavors of rich dark berries, creamy mocha and a hints of minerality, leather and earth. Chewy tannins, integrated oak and lingering flavors create a complex, layered and memorable wine. An excellent choice for cellar aging, give this one at least a year or more to experience all it has to offer.
Perfectly paired with wild boar sausage over polenta or lamb shanks with wild mushroom risotto.
Fred’s (Peterson) Vintaged View & Vineyard Notes: The “Gravity Flow Block” Syrah is the realization of a dream of mine to produce a Syrah grown on the most exposed, well-drained location on our Bradford Mountain vineyard. This rocky hillock directly behind my house on Bradford Mountain got its name from the fact that at the top sits our 10,000 gallon water tank that serves our house and garden via gravity flow. Though I had cleared the brush off the hill in the early 1990’s, it remained unplanted through the remainder of the decade as I put my efforts into our new winery business.
In March 2001, I planted the vineyard to 90% Syrah (5 clones), 8% Viognier and 2% Petite Sirah with the vines planted 3 feet apart in the row and 6 feet between rows. Though the rocky ground made digging the planting holes a pain, we dug extra large holes mixing the rocky parent soil with substantial quantities of compost to give the vines a jump-start. We trained the vines up their training stakes that year and in 2002 harvested a small crop that we blended into our Mendocino Carignane.
Our 2007 “Gravity Flow Block” Syrah, harvested on September 7th and 11th, is a big, flavorful wine, very representative of both the vintage and the vineyard on Bradford Mountain.
By co-fermenting the Syrah and Viogner in the Cote Rotie tradition (with 15% being whole cluster fermenation), the union of aromas and flavors begins at the wine’s birth. The Viogner contributes significant yet subtle influences with its delicate floral and fruit components. The resulting wine is head spinning with seductive aromas, big chewy, juicy flavors and lots of fruit. And, at the core of this wine you’ll discover that amazing mineral essence, the trademark of Bradford Mountain terroir.
Bradford Mountain Vineyard – Planted in the 1980s on the western edge of Dry Creek Valley, our Bradford Mountain Estate Vineyard is 32 acres on the very top of the mountain (elevation 1000 feet). We took great pains to find the proper varietals and clones to plant in the mineral-rich mountain soil. The well-drained, red-clay soil, combined with sunny days and cool nights, produces small, intensely favored Cabernet grapes with a higher acidity and a lower pH than valley fruit.
About Peterson Winery:
We are located in the Dry Creek Valley, in the northwest region of Sonoma County. Peterson Winery’s new tasting room is now open for wine tasting and sales daily 11am-4:30pm. We often pour our wines at local tasting and charity events as well. Check for upcoming events on the News & Events page.
Our wines are also available for tasting at the “LOCALS” tasting room in Geyserville. See tastelocalwines.com for directions and details. Click on the “Find Us” link for a map to the winery and to LOCALS in Geyserville.
If you have any questions about Peterson Winery or our wines, send us an e-mail at email@example.com and we’ll respond as soon as we can.
We can’t tell our whole story here, but we hope that by looking at a few photos and reading a bit more about us, you’ll find out who we are and why we love to make great wines.
About The Winemaker:
Jamie Peterson – It’s not by coincidence that I’m the winemaker at Peterson Winery. I’ve been helping my father at the winery for the past ten years, back to the days of labeling the bottles by hand. I worked two harvests here at the winery, in 2000 and 2001, and the 2001 harvests Down Under in Australia at Lowe Family Winery, and then in New Zealand, at Ngatarawa Winery. With this solid base of experience, much to my excitement I was given the opportunity of taking over winemaking duties in June 2002, and have been loving it ever since.
Overseeing the quality of the wine from when the grapes come in all the way through to the bottle is my main responsibility and priority. Since it’s just my father and I, this keeps me pretty busy, but when I’m not checking up on barrels or wrestling with the bottling equipment, you can often find me at one the numerous tasting events we attend, whether it is for charity or for the love of wine. In my free time, I’ve started a Peterson Winery softball team with my friends here in Healdsburg. I also enjoy cooking, foraging for local culinary mushrooms, reading, and am a Giants baseball fan. Continuing winemaking tradition of Zero Manipulation.
Composition: 100% Gravity Flow Block – Bradford Mountain Vineyard, 92% Syrah, 7% Viognier & 1% Petite Sirah
Appellation: Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County; Bradford Mountain Vineyard; Gravity Flow Block
Harvest Dates: September 7 & 11, 2006
Barrel Aging: 22 months
Type of Oak: 50% New French oak barrels, 30% 2 year-old French oak barrels, 20% 4-6 year-old French oak barrels
Bottling Date: August 13 2009 (unfined & unfiltered)
Production: 275 cases
Release Date: January 2011