Charles Creek Vineyards
2006 Muy Bonito - A Syrah Blend
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Que Rico!
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Revisit our old friends at Charles Creek Vineyard and acquire their most pretty Syrah blend.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Charles Creek Vineyard
Wine Subject: 2007 Muy Bonito – A Syrah Blend
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. Today, we return to Charles Creek to bring you their Muy Bonito Syrah Blend. The popularity of Syrah is undeniable. Big and bold in flavor and texture, it packs a concentrated punch of flavor that many people love. This Rhone varietal, although many believe that the grape originated in the Persia region, is 100% French in lineage. The Syrah grape is directly descendant from the Monduese Blanche and Dureza varietals and is grown worldwide with great success. Today’s delicious Syrah is a delight with original flavors, deep aromatics and a tender mouth feel.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark garnet and purple with a dense but clear core that allows just hints of light streak through it. Along the edges, the color lightens slightly and when swirled, slow medium thick legs of random speeds ring the glass.
Smell – A bountiful blend of spiced ripe and tart red and black and red fruit led off my black cherry and followed by red plum, soft raspberry and other berries. Hints of sweet spice, black pepper and green herbs meld with a healthy oak note. Reminiscent of the southern Rhone on the nose
Feel – Full-bodied and dry on the palate, this initially cool and smooth wine is plump, expansive and chewy with firm but well developed tannins that warms as it lingers long and reach the corners of the mouth followed by balanced acidity and a touch of dark minerality.
Taste – Rich, generous and ripe spiced red and black fruit including black cherry, blackberry, ripe raspberry and plum meld with toasted oak and vanilla that has a subtle smokey character. Dark minerals, spice and black pepper adds a kick along with just a hint of mocha and green herbs.
Finish – Long and lingering with this wine’s textured tannins and minerality grasping the slowly fading fruit and begging for another sip.
Conclusion – The 2007 Charles Creek Vineyard Muy Bonito – A Syrah Blend will instantly appeal to lovers of California Syrah but also those who like Rhone wines as well. The unique blend that includes Grenache, Cabernet, Tempranillo and Cab Franc adds complexity on both the nose and palate with a sturdy but not overbearing structure. Drinking very well now (give this wine some time to open) this wine will continue to develop for several years. Pair this wine with grilled steak tips or anything else you throw on the grill; and at this value price, this can be your every day Syrah blend!
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:
Very pretty indeed; this nod to the traditional southern Rhone blends (with a slight detour to include Tempranillo and the Cabernets) displays ripe red fruit aromas with hints of spice. Bright in the mouth the flavors of cherry and pepper spice are accented with a whiff of toasty oak, vanillin and caramel.
The Blend: 73% Syrah, 18% Grenache, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Tempranillo, 1% Cabernet Franc; 15 months maturation in new and seasoned French & American oak cooperage
Serve with: Red sauced pastas, pulled pork, pizza or the usual red wine suspects such as beef and lamb. Try also with a seared rare, pepper-encrusted Tuna steak!
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: 73% Syrah, 18% Grenache, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon,
4% Tempranillo, 1% Cabernet Franc
Aging: 15 months maturation in new and seasoned French & American oak cooperage
Total Acidity: 0.64mg/100mls
Residual Sugar: nil