Charles Creek Vineyards
2007 Lake County Tempranillo
Tempranillo •Tejada Vineyard
California: Lake County
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Mission Codename: Me haces falta
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Send Agent Red back to Charles Creek Vineyard, a long-standing Operative favorite, to procure an ample allotment of their fabled 2007 Tempranillo
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Charles Creek Vineyard
Wine Subject: 2007 Tempranillo – Lake County – Tejada Vineyard
Winemaker: Kerry G. Damskey
Regional Backgrounder: The Red Hills Lake County AVA is distinguished by red volcanic gravelly soils and a distinctive lake-land effect breeze/wind that moderates temperatures. Much of this unique appellation overlooks Clear Lake and the town of Kelseyville. Vineyards in this region benefit from a daily breeze that cools the vines after long, hot days. The Red Hills Lake County AVA is a part of the larger, multi-county North Coast AVA comprised of four counties: Lake, Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino.
Varietal Backgrounder: Native to Spain, Tempranillo is a black grape that is most commonly found in Rioja. It gets its name as Tempranillo ripens several weeks earlier (mas temprano) than the other red grapes native to the region. Although not true, many believe this grape to be related to Pinot Noir. With its rich and full-bodied character and crowd pleasing aromas and flavors of dark berries, plum, vanilla, herbs and a touch of leather, Tempranillo is now widely planted all around the globe, including in Lake County, where the varietal thrives.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Darkest ruby, with a slightly darker core. Viewed from afar the wine is so dark that it looks opaque, but held to the light, it is perfectly clear. When swirled, the wine leaves behind tightly-packed, wine stained tears.
Smell – Exotic, complex and darkly sweet with dark mixed berry jam, pie spice, strawberry jam, leather and plum. As the wine opens, it delivers additional aromas of tobacco, toasty vanilla and subtlest dried herbs.
Feel – Full-bodied right from the start. Interestingly, this wine has a very light weight to at. At least at first. It moves quickly across the palate and it isn’t long into the finish that it begins to reveal a greater weight. As it develops, it takes on a chewy feel while drying the lips and cheeks.
Taste – Dark and spiced, with flint and dried dark flower petals out in the front. As the wine moves around the palate, blackberry, smoked fig and dark leather emerge. Additional flavors of black tea leaf, soft spice, slate, oak and dried herbs gradually emerge on the finish.
Finish – Long and really intriguing, with a final round of flavors that show up, long after the wine is swallowed. The finish begins with fruit, which yields to earthen flavors – which tail off slowly. Then, a third round of flavors emerges, delivering up spice, minerals, black tea, herbs and oak.
Conclusion – The 2007 Charles Creek Tempranillo is their inaugural release of this great wine. We always love Kerry Damsky’s work on Charles Creek’s wines and it was a delight to be offered the opportunity to bring you this wine. Complex, dark, flavorful and unique, this wine was a real discussion piece for our tasting panel. We spent a long time with this wine, discussing especially, its rather unique finish. It seemed to have three distinct phases (see ‘Taste’ and ‘Finish’, above), which we marveled at. After a long period of enjoying this darkly delicious wine on its own, we broke out the hard cheeses and dried meats. It paired with this, beautifully. An especially exciting combination was with the peppered salami, which added a satisfying element of heat to the drinking experience. Once again, a Charles Charles Creek wine earns our heartiest recommendation. Enjoy!
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:
An early ripening varietal, Tempranillo is most closely associated with the Rioja wines of Spain. Although it is thought that the varietal was planted (from seed) on the American continent by Spanish Conquistadors in the 17th century, cuttings most likely arrived in California in the early 20th century; around 1905.
Sourced from the Tejada Vineyard in Lake County, this premier release of Tempranillo from Charles Creek shows classic aromas of dark fruits, with a hint of leather and suggestions of oak. Flavors are full and lush with dark plum, berry, vanillin, mocha and pie-spice. Moderate tannins suggest early drinkability with short term ageing potential (3-5 additional years would not be unreasonable)
Serve with: Red meats are a given, but this lively wine would also pair well with spiced sausage, poultry or flavorful seafood dishes. Paella anyone?
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: 77% Tempranillo, 23% Grenache; 16 months maturation in French oak cooperage; 40% new
Winemaker: Kerry G. Damskey
Total Acidity: 0.5.7 G/L
Residual Sugar: nil