2006 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
California: Sonoma County: Dry Creek Valley
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Mission Codename: Veni, Vidi, VC
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: In response to reports that winemaker, Miro Tcholakov, is covertly making wine for wineries other than Miro Cellars and Trentadue Winery, have Agent Red keep Miro under close surveillance. If confirmed that Miro is making additional wines, swiftly procure samples, for our Miro-loving Operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: VC Cellars
Wine Subject: 2006 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
Winemaker: Miro Tcholakov
The Dry Creek Valley across the Russian River from Alexander Valley has a generally cooler and wetter climate which makes the growing season longer and more flexible than neighboring appellations. This is an area best known for producing rather incredible Zinfandel.
Zinfandel is related to the Italian Primitivo grape, tracing its origin to the Croatian grape Crljenak Kastelanski. Zinfandel is one of the most versatile varietals with the ability to make wines, both rich to fruity, dark to light, and dry to sweet. Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel, which are characterized by their balanced flavors, is among the most popular wines of our Operatives.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep ruby red hues, with a darker but clear core. Color is deeply concentrated, from dark core to burgundy-colored edging. When swirled, this leaves slow, chubby, evenly-spaced legs on the wall of the glass.
Smell – Lush and dark, with sweet blackberry, blueberry and cassis. These aromas are underpinned by
notes of black cherry, bramble, sweetwoods, mocha, anise, exotic baking spice and a touch of subtle spearmint.
Feel – Soft and smooth on the initial attack. Then, a mineral dryness spreads rapidly around the palate, while flavors seem to simultaneously increase. This medium bodied Zin is tangy and sweet with medium firm tannins and juicy acidity.
Taste – Darkly fruit forward with sweet ripe blackberry, plum and blueberry in the lead. These flavors meld with baking spice, black cherry, bramble, sweet oak, mocha and slate. At the very end, classic Dry Creek black pepper makes a brief appearance.
Finish – Long and flavorful, with bold black fruit yielding to red fruit and earthen components of bramble, woods and spice. Toward the end, oak and mocha that gives way to the slate and pepper notes.
Conclusion – Miro Tcholakov (we call him, ‘Agent KGB’) impresses us once again, this time with a gorgeous Dry Creek Zinfandel – a first for us from Miro. Today’s 2006 VC Cellars Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel is a delicious wine that provides a great example of the terroir of the Dry Creek. Balanced, bold and very flavorful, this is a fruit-driven wine that shows great earthen characteristics as well. The immediate drying that we experienced is not the type that sucks the life out of your palate. Rather, in intriguing fashion, the dryness seems to drive additional flavors. We loved this interesting characteristic, and think that you will, too. Decant for best results, and pair with your favorite summertime cookouts.
Mission Report:MIRO INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Miro Tcholakov
DATE OF BIRTH: February 4, 1966
PLACE OF BIRTH: Trojan, Bulgaria
WINE EDUCATION: Higher Institute of Agriculture, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, UC Davis, SRJC
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Dry Creek Vineyards-1990-1999 as Assistant Winemaker/Cellar Master, Trentadue Winery-1999-present-Winemaker/VP of Production, Miro Cellars-2001-present. Also consulted and continue to consult for a few other small projects domestically and abroad. Currently serving on the Board of Directors for ZAP and “PS I Love you” organizations
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: “Freedom of Expression”- meaning for Miro wines I source only vineyards that are interesting to me in regard of geology, soil types, location, grape growing styles, grape grower…etc. Not being confined to an “Estate” vineyard gives me the freedom of choice. If the vineyard does not deliver I move on. Great wines can be made without blue blooded heritage and a Chateau in the foreground.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: So far I made my mark with Petite sirah for the Miro brand, with my other jobs I have done very well with other varieties and blends. In general I’m very fond of perhaps the only two varieties that California has claim to fame as truly “heritage” –Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. But, I am so pleased with my inaugural Pinot Noir! It turned out beautifully.
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Well I’m not sure what do you consider Highlight but if you mean wine scores I have a few 90 points and above from Wine Enthusiast, Parker, Wine Spectator, Connoisseur Guide, California Grapevine, top picks in New York Times, USA Today, and hundreds of Gold medals and Best of Class and a few Sweepstakes from wine competitions that matter.
I have met and tasted my wines one on one with Michelle Rolland (without paying for it) if that is considered an event but I found that to be very interesting. I have been on the pages of few wine publications. Once Dan Burger put me on the top 20 winemakers in the country…
There is probably more that I don’t remember…MIRO QUOTE: Just drink it-it is only wine!
AGENT RED: Greetings, Miro. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 VC Cellars Zinfandel today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
MIRO TCHOLAKOV: Always a pleasure!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
MIRO: I don’t think that there was any specific event-wine has always been part of our life back in Bulgaria. We made every year about 1000 liters and manage to drink most of it before the next harvest. Wine has always been part of the life circle, just like making cheese or jam or tomato sauces. We also made grappa every year. My grandfather Mariano was the initial inspiration and the first hand source of winemaking knowledge.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
MIRO: The real winemaking I learned during my first years at Dry Creek. I’m not done with the learning by any means yet. Back in Bulgaria we made the wine in the most pure way possible. We rarely used even sulfur! No additives and none of the modern gadgets-just grapes and barrels.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
MIRO: Don’t play with the wine just because you know how. Only intervene when you absolutely have to and you are sure of the outcome. Always pay attention to the details all the time. Everything you do to the wine-matters!
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
MIRO: Well I don’t think there is just one person-it is more of a collective of people and styles. I do not believe that I have a particular style per say-I just try to get out of the grapes the most from every vintage-and that would be different every year.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
MIRO: Legally? Commercially –this harvest was my number 20!
RED: Who do you make wine for?
MIRO: I guess I can say that first I want to be satisfied with the wines I make and of course it will be great if a lot of people including media like them as well. Otherwise I’ll have a lot of wine to drink by myself…
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
MIRO: The 2006 Zin is from a small relatively young vineyard called Coyote Ridge on Victor Trentadue property in Dry Creek Valley. It sits on top a steep ridge with poor, shallow, hard as a brick soil that makes the vines suffer. It is a relatively young vineyard with great potential for quality that is showing in this wine .The 2006 was a great year for me and this Zin is one of the best I’ve made.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
MIRO: What I like about Zin in general is that it is very easy to pair with different foods. This Zin is ripe and opulent and has a significant weight and right now is at its peak-soft, lush and delicious. I would like to sip it with a mixed plate of aged hard cheeses, figs, salami and other cold cuts and even chocolate covered almonds
RED: Tell me, what makes the Dry Creek Valley so special?
MIRO: All of the components of Terroir –soil, climate and the love of the people and their willingness to work hard to make these special wines.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
MIRO: You have to love the job. If you are in it just 8 to 5 don’t even think about it. If the love and passion are not there you will be just a booze maker. Also you have to be willing to sacrifice a lot of time and long days and hours away from the family.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
MIRO: Blending and bottling the next vintages, a lot of traveling and selling wine and preparing for the next harvest.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know.
MIRO: I wanted to be a MD back in Bulgaria but my girlfriend talked me out of it.
RED: Thank goodness for us fans of your wines! What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
MIRO: Rhone wines for sure. I even make one for a winemaker called Cuvee Sasha a GSM-simply delicious without all the pretence.
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
MIRO: Think of them as $100 bottle of wines and you will not be disappointed. I hate the cliché but they are “affordable luxury”.
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
MIRO: I would like to try again the 1927 Château D’yquem.
RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
MIRO: Have I been connected to KGB? The answer is –perhaps!
RED: Our intel reports were correct, then! Thank you so much for your time, Miro. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
MIRO: Thank you! Wine Spies days are always very exciting around here. Your customers are well-informed – and they know good wine.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
Double Gold — 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
Gold Medal — 2010 California State Fair Wine Competition
Silver Medal — 2010 Sonoma County Harvest Fair
About This Wine:
Dry Creek Valley has rightfully earned a reputation for Zinfandel, and this wine supports that claim to the full extent. The 2006 vintage will be remembered as the one with heavy rainfall in the winter and cool summer. The long ripening season provided extra “hang time” for the grapes and thus produced wines with great depth and superb structure. The grapes for our 2006 Coyote Ridge Zin were harvested at the end of September and the first week of October. After gentle destemming the grapes were fermented in open top tanks. The aging was in small French Oak barrels for about 20 months.
Prior to bottling, 5% Petite Sirah was blended with the Zin for structure enhancement. The first impression is of intense aromas of jammy strawberry and raspberry, followed by pronounced Bing cherry and toasted oak. After further aeration, delicate aromas of rose petals, perfume and hints of cranberry and cocoa powder begin to show. The mouth feel is broad and rich with a long juicy finish. This is another great example of the consistently high quality Zins made from our Dry Creek Valley Estate.
Cheers! Miro Tcholakov
About The Winery:
Just 12 acres, harvested by hand, spectacularly located on southwest facing hillside and benchland in Dry Creek Valley. Our wines feature three hearty, concentrated-fruit, food-loving varietals — Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon — all share the signature of our family’s long history with this land.
A focus on crafting delicious food-friendly wines: When Victor and Cindy Trentadue launched VC Cellars, they let their 30+ years of vineyard management experitse guide their decision to focus on three varietal standouts: Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Victor and Cindy limited their planting to just 12 acres on a gently sloping, southwest facing hillside in upper Dry Creek Valley.
The results have been more than mouthwatering — the first releases from 2005 and 2006 vintages brought home nearly a dozen awards from top wine competitions.
Our roots in Dry Creek Valley span generations: Located in the northwestern region of Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley has a rich history of ranching and fruit farming going back to the 1850s and has been the place called “home” for our family for several generations. In 1959, Victor’s parent, Evelyn and Leo Trentadue, decided to flee the developers encroaching on their apricot and cherry orchards in Sunnyvale, the area known today around the world as Silicon Valley. Finding a vibrant Italian farming community in Sonoma County, the Trentadues settled their family here and were among the very first to plant new grapevines in Sonoma County after the days of Prohibition. Dry Creek Valley was also great sheep farming territory and Victor took part in many sheerings down in the old barn — the chalk marks keeping count are still in evidence on the barn walls!
Victor and Cindy operate Four Seasons Vineyard Managment, which oversees 422 acres of grapevines throughout Sonoma County.
VC Cellars is joined on the shelf by their sister wine POUND HOUND, whose most dedicated ambassador is Abbey, the family’s Jack Russell Terrier. Pound Hound literally puts together the “pick of the litter” of each harvest, offering some of the most delicious industry “strays” at workday prices.
Varietals: 96% Zin; 5% Petite Sirah