Charles Creek Vineyards
2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
California: Sonoma County: Sonoma Coast
What we say
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Mission Codename: Noir With a Pinch of Meunier
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Revisit our old friends at Charles Creek Vineyard and acquire their premier Pinot Noir.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Charles Creek Vineyard
Wine Subject: 2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Kerry G. Damskey
Our Operatives are crazy for Charles Creek wines. The first time we featured their excellent wines here, our Operatives snapped up our entire allocation before the one-day sale was over. And while its been a long time since we’ve been able to get our hands on an allocation, today, we are featuring their delicious Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir from the extraordinary 2007 vintage. The Sonoma Coast AVA is the 750 square mile area with the Pacific ocean on its western boundary, the San Pablo Bay to the south and Mendocino County to the north, headed inland to the other designated AVAs in Sonoma County. The region is heavily influenced by the cooler ocean climate, increased rainfall and fog that lingers long on the coastal mountains. The specific climate suits the demanding Burgundian varietals of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir very well.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Bright and crystal clear with a deep ruby red core that is reminiscent of black cherry Jell-O and slightly dark pinkish ruby along the edges. When swirled, thin legs hang for a moment before racing to the wine below.
Smell – Medium in intensity with classic Pinot aromas of bright and ripe red fruit including cherry, raspberry and hints of strawberry that are layered over a soft earthy base that shows hints of complex mushroom. A touch of spice, vanilla toasted caramel and soft floral notes also emerge as you explore the very approachable nose of this wine..
Feel – Smooth and dry, this medium bodied Pinot has a very nice spicy feel that softens as you let this wine open. Medium firm but well developed tannins and vibrant acidity grasps the fruit and holds on until the finish.
Taste – Ripe red cherry and a touch of red plum blend with notes of other tangy red fruit and are framed with an exotic and hot white peppery spice component. Soft earthy notes as found in the nose along with a touch of toasted vanilla, mocha and a hint of oak linger .
Finish – Medium in length and clean with this wine’s vibrant acidity and gently fading developed tannins holding on and begging for another sip.
Conclusion – The 2007 Charles Creek Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is a very pleasant and approachable wine that is both easy to drink but is also has the complexity that is a hallmark of this great vintage. Easy going ripe red fruit lasts from the first sniff through to the finish. The soft mushroom earthiness makes this an ideal wine to pair with soft ripened cheeses. Enjoy this wine right now or for several years to come.
Charles Creek’s winemaker, Kerry G. Damskey, was unavailable for an interview, today. What follows is our original mission report, when we first infiltrated Charles Creek winery – and discovered just how much we love their wines:
“Take a picture, it’ll last longer!”
Snapped out of my reverie, I turned to see who had busted me. It was my contact here at the winery, codename: El Patron.
“Oh, hi,” I replied somewhat dumbly.
I had arranged to meet Patron later in the afternoon and thought that I’d get in a little private recon before our scheduled rendezvous. I wanted to get a feel for the land and for the vineyards where the grapes for their Las Pasiones were grown.
After I explained the reason for my early arrival, Patron took me on a tour of the vineyard and, later the winery. During the tour, he briefed me on the background of the winery and its founders. Bill Brinton, one of the founding owners, has farming, innovation and creativity in his blood. A direct descendant of John Deer, Bill himself is something of a pioneer, creating wines of exceptional character and remarkable value. Charles Creek is named after his son Charley and his grandfather, Charles Deere Wiman.
Bill works in partnership with his wife, Gerry, and together they maintain the vision for the winery and work to select the best grapes for their wines. The pair share a passion for wholesome values and integrity, which spills over into their wines.
My tour of the winery was great fun, and the staffers I met there are just as passionate about the wines that Charles Creek produces as its owners. When I remarked that I thought that their wines were somewhat under-priced for the quality that they produce, they just gave me polite smile and said, “We know. We know….”
Today’s wine is a great value, but its no ‘budget’ wine. This wine, Las Pasiones, drinks way above its class, delivering elegance, balance and, most of all, deliciousness.
Kerry Damskey – Consulting Winemaker
With 25 years of winemaking experience on four continents, Kerry Damskey brings both expertise and perspective to Charles Creek Vineyard. Damskey has spent his career gaining a better understanding of the entire ecology of wine, including the impact of climate, soil, sun exposure, and temperature on the grape growing and winemaking process. This concept, which the French call terroir, is the name of his consulting company.
Damskey holds a B.S. in fermentation sciences from the University of California, Davis, is a graduate of the intensive program for small business at the Stanford University School of Business, and is a candidate of the Institute of the Masters of Wine. Damskey is a multi-time winner of the Sonoma County Wine Sweepstakes award the highest award at one of the most competitive events, and has received numerous other gold awards for his wines.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The approximate location of the Charles Creek Vineyard tasting room can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
About This Wine:
For our premier release Pinot Noir, we have sourced fruit from the cooler Sonoma Coast region of Sonoma County (with a little bit of Russian River Valley fruit, as well). Red fruit aromas are accented with subtle, oak derived toast and spice notes. Lively in the mouth, the wine offers dark cherry, pomegranate and orange rind flavors with hints of caramel and coffee bean. This medium weight wine serves well with lamb or game and will continue to evolve gracefully over the next 3-5 years.
About The Vintage:
Kicking off with the dramatic floods of the New Year (no harm done to the vineyards) and rains that continued into the spring, bud break was a bit delayed in 2006. Although a few weeks behind the “normal” cycle, by June the vines had bloomed and fruit had set. A July heat wave may have helped to accelerate ripening but cooler weather in August and continued mild weather through harvest allowed for good flavor development, reasonable sugar levels and a bit higher acidity in the Chardonnay fruit.
About The Winery:
Bill and Gerry Brinton founded Charles Creek Vineyard in 2002 with the goal of creating outstanding wines at an exceptional value. Specializing in high quality Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon from great vineyard sources in the Sonoma and Napa valleys, Charles Creek produces wines that are food friendly, fruit driven, and easily paired with the courses of a meal. Since its inception, Charles Creek has garnered numerous awards for its groundbreaking approach to crafting wines. A descendant of John Deere, Bill Brinton operates Charles Creek according to the principles of value, integrity, and quality.
Bill Brinton, Proprietor – Bill Brinton resides in Sonoma, but his roots are deep in the Midwest. Midwesterners are known for strong American values, respect for family and institutions, and the ability to create and recognize value in products.
Bill is a direct descendent of a true pioneer, John Deere. His direct family was at the helm of Deere until its recent transition to a public company. Deere created the self-scouring steel plow, an invention that revolutionized the agricultural world. It is this spirit of innovation and tradition that Bill brings to the company he founded, Charles Creek Vineyard. Charles Creek is named after his son Charley and his grandfather, Charles Deere Wiman.
Ten years prior to the start of Charles Creek Vineyard, Bill used this same dedication to create new and innovative beverages. In 1993, Bill, a graduate of the Columbia University MBA program, established a natural products and nutritional beverage firm, The Wiman Beverage Company. This company was sold to a larger firm in 2000.
Bill enjoys vineyard selection and development, as well as the critical evaluation and blending of the juice from grapes into wine. The wines are styled to pair wonderfully with a wide variety of fresh foods, and his vision is to create wines that could be sold for $30 to $75 per bottle, but that provide an exceptional value in the $20 to $25 price range. Value and integrity are the cornerstone of Midwestern values, and the basis upon which Charles Creek Vineyard was founded.
Gerry Brinton, Proprietor – Gerry has always had a very strong connection with the land.
Born and raised in Dubuque, Iowa, Gerry spent many mornings picking raspberries outside her kitchen door, and many afternoons helping her grandmother weed the vegetable garden, picking currants, gooseberries, apples and even grapes as they ripened into the fall.
Gerry was educated in North Carolina at Duke University and Boston and settled in San Francisco with her husband, Bill. However, the lure of a more rural lifestyle brought them to Sonoma County to set up as an alternative location in which to foster the same respect and love for the land, and the values it promotes, in their two young sons. Over the years, their garden in Sonoma provided more and more harvests for their table. As their boys grew up and moved away, Gerry & Bill found they could shift their primary focus to their Sonoma home. That same garden is the basis of many a delicious and healthful meal that is complemented by the wines of Charles Creek Vineyard.
Somewhere along the way it occurred to them to follow the lead of many others, and plant their property to vine. The success of early harvests spurred them on to expand that part of their dream to produce exceptional wine at a reasonable price. Gerry has worked in many capacities over the years, CPA, management consultant, property manager, principal in a fresh juice company, and volunteer director for a major medical center. Her goal has always been to work on projects that she believes in: ones that she can ethically and whole-heartedly support. The latest of these, Charles Creek Vineyard, meets these criteria. The best fruit from the best land, well cared for and handled properly, can yield wonderful wines, and that is the goal of this part of the adventure.
Kerry Damskey, Consulting Winemaker – With 25 years of winemaking experience on four continents, Kerry Damskey brings both expertise and perspective to Charles Creek Vineyard. Damskey has spent his career gaining a better understanding of the entire ecology of wine, including the impact of climate, soil, sun exposure, and temperature on the grape growing and winemaking process. This concept, which the French call terroir, is the name of his consulting company.
Damskey holds a B.S. in fermentation sciences from the University of California, Davis, is a graduate of the intensive program for small business at the Stanford University School of Business, and is a candidate of the Institute of the Masters of Wine. Damskey is a two-time winner of the Sonoma County Wine Sweepstakes award, the highest award at one of the most competitive events, and has received numerous other gold awards for his wines.
The Blend: 87% Pinot Noir, 13% Pinot Meunier
Aging: 12 months maturation in new and seasoned French oak cooperage
Total Acidity: 0.55 mg/100mls
Residual Sugar: nil