Christopher Creek Winery
2006 Finlay's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon •Finlay's Vineyard
California: Sonoma County: Dry Creek Valley
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Mission Codename: The Rhodesian
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Christopher Creek Winery, in the verdant Dry Creek Valley. Retrieve an ample quantity of their fabled Finlay’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – for our exacting Operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Christopher Creek
Wine Subject: 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon – Finlay’s Vineyard – Dry Creek Valley
Winemaker: Todd Crowell
Backgrounder: The Dry Creek Valley AVA in northeastern Sonoma (north of Healdsburg) county is somewhat warmer and wetter than the Russian River Valley AVA region just to the south and the Alexander Valley AVA just to the east. The warmer and wetter climate provides great versatility with regard to the types of grapes that can be effectively cultivated in the region.
Today’s superb wine comes from the Finlay’s Vineyard, on the Eastern slopes of Bradford Mountain, in the Dry Creek Valley.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Black cherry juice, with a deepening, inky core. The wine maintains its color, right out the the very edge of the glass, where a band of Bing cherry-color encircles the glass. On swirling, the wine looks weighty. When it settles, skinny legs streak down the glass.
Smell – Lush and vibrant, with an initial rush of red flowers, black cherry, blackberry and cassis. These are joined plum, dusty bramble, semi-sweet chocolate, clove, cedar and soft cinnamon.
Feel – Smooth and light-weight on entry, then a soft and easy dryness shows up on the mid-palate, eventually spreading to the cheeks, lips and mid-palate with a slight flinty mineral feel.
Taste -Red and black fruit, leading with earthy cherry, blackberry, earthy bramble, cranberry and dusky blueberry. As the dryness spreads, a cascade of additional flavors appears, leading with young strawberry, cedar, black coffee, anise, cedar and a hint of green tomato vine.
Finish – Long and flavorful, leading with red fruit that slowly yields to black fruit and spice – with a hint of earthy minerals and black pepper.
Conclusion – In a word, Delicious!. Ready to drink, right now, I can’t help but project into the future, where this wine will be an even bigger stunner. Lush, flavorful and balanced, our tasting panel really loved this approachable wine. With bold fruit that delivers big flavors, the wine shows balance with its bright acidity. This combination makes it an impressive and competent food pairing companion. Enjoy now, or cellar for several more years.
With bottling underway, we were unable to secure an interview with today’s winemaker. For your entertainment, what follows is our original mission report, dating back to 2008, when we first learned about Christopher Creek, and their Limerick Lane Vineyard.
Agent White, reporting: As mentioned in the backgrounder, HQ had become concerned that Agent Red had been brainwashed, or otherwise compromised. Earlier this year, Red was sent on a mission, the wine was great, but he returned to our Top Secret Tasting Operations Center humming a some and repeating the words to a limerick.
Agent [REDACTED] was especially concerned (not surprising). This limerick seemed to be consuming him. HQ asked me to investigate and to make sure I didn’t fall under the same spell as red.
I decided the best way to gather intel was to perform an undercover tasting. Upon arriving at tasting room in Healdsburg, I was greeted by Chris Russi, the winemaker, and Fred Wasserman, the owner, who immediately poured me a taste of each of the wines. After tasting the flight, I can tell you, the only thing that is making red hum the limerick is the fantastic wine.
Here is the original limerick. If you hear someone repeating it over and over, you’ll know they’ve tasting these great wines.
There was a young fella named Chris
whose grand-uncle once said, “Drink this”
T’was a libation so fine
that his heart it did shine
and Chris said “Henceforth, I shall make wine!”
His wine journey did start
and he followed his heart
to a school of high enophile learning
where he did seek, interest starting to peak,
to satisfy wine-knowledge yearning
Pure wisdom he sought
At U.C. Davis was taught
Where its classrooms stimulated his thought
The payoff of his wager
was his double wine major
Wine erudition his money had bought
Now young Chris yearned for more –
from his toes to his core
where the vineyards called out to his soul,
“Come NOW Chris, grab your shears and let’s grow!”
Never one to feel bleak
keeping up his hot streak
Chris began his intense wine career
Pondering wineries tiny and those massive-big
he landed at wine-giant, Guyser Peak
Wines and vines he now knew
and Chris had even grander ambition
After one short audition he secured the position
of Christopher Creek’s main wine magician
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Christopher Creek winery can be seen in satellite photo.
What the winery says
Awards & Accolades:
Double Gold Medal (All Judges Voted Gold )— Tasters Guild International, April 2009
Gold Medal — Riverside International Wine Competition, April 2009
About The Wine:
Our 2006 Finlay’s Vineyard Cabernet is produced from grapes grown in red soils (terrior) on the Eastern slopes of Bradford Mountain overlooking Dry Creek Valley and shows the characteristics of a “serious Cab.” Finlay is the Rhodesian Ridgeback who guards the vineyard. The vines are over 30 years old and the grapes produce wine with intense aromas and tastes of blueberry, boysenberry, cassis and plum with spicy, cedar and clove overtones. A blend of 87% Cabernet and 13% Merlot, the wine was aged for 18 months in French oak barrels. The concentration and ample tannic structure should allow for 8-to-10 years of bottle aging. Red meat dishes are the pairing of choice for the 2006 Cabernet. Try it with steak, prime rib or a barbecued tri-tip.
(Terroir is defined here by soil, slope, drainage, sun exposure and climate characteristics of a growing area. These characteristics can provide a grape variety with a unique personality. A wine made with such grapes is said to have a “gout de terroir” or “the taste of where it comes from.")
About The Winery:
Christopher Creek Winery is a small, family owned winery with a history of producing award winning, estate bottled, and hand crafted wines. Annual production is 4000 cases. Set in the rolling hills of the Northern part of the Russian River appellation, near Healdsburg, CA, Christopher Creek produces Syrah, Petite Sirah, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Viognier, Port and Cabernet.
Our Growing History
In addition to growing grapes, we have been farming oranges and olives in the Central Valley of California for the past 30 years. We currently live on a Cabernet vineyard in Dry Creek Valley.
Growing quality grapes is the primary focus in developing great wines. As we have been farming for many years, we appreciate the fine balance between agricultural practices and the quality of the grape. So does our winemaker, Chris Russi, who previously worked at Geyser Peak Winery in Geyserville, California. He received his degree in Viticulture and Enology from the University of California, Davis, California.
With the growing interest in the Rhone style wines, Petite Sirah, Viognier and Syrah, Christopher Creek Winery offers wines produced from older as well as newer vines. Our vineyard is located in the Northeastern part of the Russian River Appellation, where the climate is warmer. We produce some of the best Syrah and Petite Sirah in the area.
Our 2005 Russian River Estate Bottled Syrah is a “Best of Class-Gold Medal Winner” and our 2004 Dry Creek “Finlay’s Vineyard” Cabernet is a Gold and Silver Medal Winner. Zinfandels produced by Christopher Creek are consistently “Best of Class,” “Best of Show,” Gold and Silver Medal Winners. Our Petite Sirahs are legendary winners with over 40 Medals and “Best of Class-Gold Medals” during the past ten years. In addition to the many medals our wines have been awarded, Christopher Creek Winery has also been mentioned in recent print and online articles.
Our Tasting Room is open daily, 11 am to 5 pm and by appointment. Visit our winery, meet with us and our Tasting Room staff.
Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon
Harvested: October 16, 2006
Released: January 2009
pH: 3.36 at bottling
Aged: 18 months in French oak barrels