VC Cellars

2005 Dry Creek Valley Petite Sirah

Petite Sirah

California: Sonoma County: Dry Creek Valley

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Mission Codename: The Inaugural

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Agent White revisits VC Cellars in response to reports that winemaker, Miro Tcholakov, is covertly making wine for wineries other than Miro Cellars and Trentadue Winery.

Mission Status: Accomplished

Current Winery: VC Cellars

Wine Subject: 2005 Dry Creek Valley Petite Sirah

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 well known for producing delicious Petite Sirah as well as other bold red grapes.

Petite Sirah’s California roots dates back to when it was believed to be a close relative of the Syrah grape. Later it would be found to be genetically identical to the Durif, named for its after French discoverer François Durif who found that the varietal was a Syrah grape pollinated with Peloursin flowers. Its smaller berries with higher skin to pulp ratio leads to more intense flavors. Another benefit of the smaller berries are tighter clusters that are more resistant to mildew. Currently Petite Sirah is less popular in France and increasingly popular in the United States.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Dark and dense purple and nearly black when viewed from the side. When viewed from the top, the color remains dark but clear, with garnet and ruby tints. Along the edges, the garnet hues really shine though and when swirled thin legs of varying speeds ring the glass evenly.

Smell – Ripe and rich blackberry, plum and black cherry along with black, blue and red fruit lead the way with black pepper and other brown spices following suit. Just underneath the fruit are notes of toasted and smoky wood and dark earth.

Feel – Velvet smooth and warm on the palate, this full-bodied dry wine has finely grained and well developed sturdy tannins. Its textured minerality and balanced acidity makes this wine not only well structured but also grasps the fruit long into the finish.

Taste – Ripe and tangy blackberry, black cherry, dark plum on the palate, initially fruit forward but quickly balanced by its other complex flavors including black pepper, toasted oak, other hot and brown spice, dark earthy minerals and bittersweet chocolate.

Finish – This wine’s finish is lasting and persistent with the rich fruit lasting long as the smooth but textured tannins and minerals dry the tongue. Notes of pepper and spice also linger and beg for another sip.

Conclusion – There is a reason that Miro Tcholakov is one of our operative’s favorite winemakers, and the 2005 VC Cellars Dry Creek Valley Petite Sirah shows all the care and quality he crafts into every bottle. Ripe and fresh on the nose with great fruit, spice and other flavors. A generous, smooth but sturdy mouth-feel and great fruit and complexity on the palate. A delicious wine that you can enjoy now or cellar for up to ten years. Pair this wine with grilled game meat, hearty winter stews or with a close friends in front of a warm fire.

Mission Report:

Please enjoy Agent Red’s interview with Agent KGB (VC Cellars’ winemaker, Miro Tcholakov), below.


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: It is a perfect example of this varietal: blackberry, opulent blueberry, plum and a hint of chocolate.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

MIRO: Short ribs and garlic.

RED: Tell me, what makes the Dry Creek Valley so special?

MIRO: Clay loam soil with a lot of rocks, warm days and cold nights.

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: Bottling, rocking barrels, monitoring malolactic fermentation.

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 pretense.

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:

Gold Medal2011 SF Chronicle Wine Competition

90 PointsWine Connoisseurs’ Guide for our 2005 Petite Sirah

About This Wine:

The 2005 Petite Sirah is the inaugural release for VC Cellars from their small Estate vineyard-Coyote Ridge. The wine is a perfect example of what this old California varietal can do when grown in the ideal terroir of Dry Creed Valley. The first impression is of ripe blackberry, opulent blueberry, plum and a hint of chocolate. After short aeration some mineral nuances are released followed by a suggestion of brown sugar, molasses and a hint of smoke. On the mouth the wine is well balanced, structured and integrated. The tannins are definitely there as they should be-it is Petite Sirah, after all-but they are in balance with the rest of the lush body. The finish is long and rich. Predictably, this wine will age well and peak in the next 5-8 years.

Cheers, Miro Tcholakov, Winemaker

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.

Technical Analysis:

Varietal: 100% Petite Sirah

pH: 3.95

Total Acidity: 0.61

Residual Sugar: 0.4%

Alcohol: 15.5%

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