Charles Creek Vineyards
2003 Las Pasiones
Cabernet Sauvignon •Mountain Terraces & Stagecoach
California: Sonoma County: Sonoma Valley
What We Say
If you are visiting us for the first time, Welcome! The Wine Spies feature one exceptional wine each day – and we only bring you wines that we ourselves seek out and love. Always, the wines are great. Sometimes even better than that, as is the case with today’s wine from Charles Creek Vineyards.
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT!
We always feature great wines, but today’s wine is incredibly great! Grab some, Operative, before we run out
Shipping Included on 6 bottles or more. Enter this coupon code at checkout (discount will be shown before you complete your order): SPYCREEK
SUPER SONOMA WINERY ALERT!
Some of the best wines in the world are made right here in Sonoma County. Such is the case with today’s wine from Charles Creek Cellars. We frequently feature great Sonoma wines so be sure to check back every Tuesday, when we always feature one great Sonoma County winery.
Mission Codename: Red Hot Passion
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Charles Creek, a Wine Spies Operative favorite, and return with another of their great wines
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Charles Creek Cellars
Wine Subject: 2003 Las Pasiones, Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Kerry G. Damskey
Backgrounder: 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, Agent Red revisits Charles Creek Cellars – and returns, victorious, with a decent allocation of their Las Pasiones Cabernet Sauvignon. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report immediately following to learn more about this wine – and why Merlot still rocks!
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Inky dark to burgundy in color with a heart of deep plum, this wine has a bouncy surface, concentrated color right to the edges and fat legs that streak down the glass
Smell – Lushly and earthy and deeply layered with darkly rich aromas of mixed dark berries, dark cherry, violet, mild anise, tomato stem, cedar, mild oak and even fresh baked bread and buttered popcorn
Feel – Incredible mouth-feel, round and cool, velvety and dark – but not heavy, with medium tannins and an all-over-mouth coating effect that I love
Taste – This wine rocks your mouth with layered flavors of blackberry, dark ripe stonefruit, dark cherry, mildest vegital and mild mixed herbs
Finish – Cool and coating, then slightly drying with flavors that linger, tapering off very slowly
Conclusion – A fantastic wine from a Wine Spies favorite winery! This wine shines even brighter than some of the exceptional 2004 vintage Cabs we have been raving about of late, stealing the spotlight away from some formidable ‘04 competitors. Kerry Damsky, winemaker for Charles Creek (and a few other super premium wine houses) has become a wine-God in our eyes, with each Charles Creek we taste topping the last. Today’s wine, an incredible Cabernet Sauvignon, is now among our very favorites so far this year. This is a recent release, but the winery is only letting us have a handful of cases. So, dear Operative, snap up a case or two – before we run out!
“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 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.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Charles Creek tasting room can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Charles Creek Winery invites you to check out The Wine Spies on Wine Library TV
SILVER MEDAL – 2006 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
SILVER MEDAL – 2006 New World International Wine Competition
GOLD MEDAL – 2006 West Coast Wine Competition
SILVER MEDAL – 2006 Los Angeles County Fair Wines of the World Wine Competition
GOLD MEDAL – 95 POINTS – 2006 California State Fair Wine Competition
The mountain vineyards that parented this elegant Cabernet have everything going for them; stunning vistas, rocky soils and southern exposure. The Color is bright and garnet. Opening with a nose that is rich with violets and anise, gradually giving way to cedar and the warm smell of forest floor. This wine continues to unfold in your glass, becoming more complex and seductive with every sip. This wine is luscious and approachable now and will only give more pleasure with age.
The 2003 vintage, as all harvests, had its own unique rhythm. Most notable was that bud break was delayed three weeks due to a cold a wet late spring. In Alexander Valley, over seven inches of rain fell between the first and the last day of April. Conversely, in 2002, almost no rain fell in April and May.
After the April rains, late May and early June were marked by unusually early heat. In the vineyard, with an abundance of available water to the vine, huge canopies of shoot growth were realized. Growers and winemakers thought we might be in for a hot summer.
In fact, the summer of 2003 was not temperate. Persistent morning fog kept things cool and Cabernet Sauvignon maturation in the vineyard was ideally slow. In August, it became clear that we winemakers would have Labor Day off; harvest was going to be a late one.
95% Shaefer Vineyard – Sonoma Valley Hillside Terraces (1500 foot elevation)
5% Stagecoach Vineyard – Napa Valley (1700 foot elevation)
About The Winery:
While we live in Sonoma County, our roots and traditional values are firmly planted in the Midwest.
Gerry was raised on an Iowa farm, and my great, great grandfather was John Deere, inventor of the self-scouring steel plow, and founder of the company that still bears his name.
After raising two sons, and rewarding careers, we sought a more rural lifestyle. Like many of our neighbors, we began growing wine grapes. When these grapes started producing great wines, our avocation turned to vocation, and Charles Creek Vineyard was born. The winery is named after our son, Charles, and to honor Bill’s grandfather, Charles Deere Wiman.
The Blend: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Kerry G. Damskey
Production: 521 cases
Bottling Date: October 2005
Fermentation: 100% Open Top – Punch Down Tank Fermentation
Cooperage: 22 Month In Barrel; 25% New French, 25% New American Barrel
Alcohol: 14.7 %
Total Acidity: 6.2 grams/Liter
Residual Sugar: Nil
Release Date: Winter 2005
Serve with: Seared duck breast with a wild mushroom ragu.