What We Say 2005 The Mariner
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Mission Codename: Tempests Roar
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Dry Creek Vineyard and retrieve The Meriner, DCV’s famous flagship Meritage wine
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: Dry Creek Vineyard
Wine Subject: 2005 Mariner
Winemaker: Lisa Bishop Forbes
Earlier this year we had the great fortune to bring you a Meritage wine from Dry Creek Vineyard. Today, we bring you what some have called the big brother to that wine. Dry Creek’s, The Mariner, is a bolder, richer and more robust blend, worthy of your attention.
According to the US Meritage (rhymes with Heritage) Association, a red Meritage wine is made from a blend of two or more of the following varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, St. Macaire, Gros Verdot, or Carmenere. The Wine Spies have sampled many great Meritage wines and we are pleased to present you with this great example from our friends at Dry Creek Vineyards.
Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report below:
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Beautiful dark garnet that turns ruby red when swirled. This wine maintains deeply concentrated color through to its edges. With a deep garnet to burgundy core, a tightly springy surface that settles quickly after swirling, this wine exhibits tightly packed skinny legs that move very steadily down the glass
Smell – Deep and aromatic bright fruits with dark blackberry, cherry, raspberry, toasty oak, soft spices, and a distinct dried flower component
Feel – Initially smooth, wet, round and creamy at the front of the palate – then mouth-coating and rich with lush medium tannins that fade to reveal follow-on flavors
Taste – Bright fruit, balanced against darker earthen components. Juicy, richly layered and delicious, with dark cherry, cassis, blackberry, vanillan, soft oak and mildest chalky plum fresh tart cherries and cassis balanced against softer earthen flavors of subtle smoked blueberry, followed by a resurgence of bright fruit and soft wisps of mocha and mild spice
Finish – An fruity long and clean finish that tails off smoothly, while continuing to reveal new flavors as it tapers off
Conclusion – Once again, Dry Creek Vineyard blows us away with this boldly delicious example of their winemaking prowess! This is a big wine that benefits from a short decanting. Time exposed to the air mellows the wine somewhat, removing the on-opening hard edge and replacing it with a beautiful balance. This is a deeply delicious wine that is a delight to drink on its own or with fine meals. With a medium-big mouth feel and bright acidity, this is a great food wine. This wine gets a big Wine Spies recommendation!
HQ URGENT DISPATCH: Agent Red has gone AWOL, and along with him, the mission report for today’s superior wine. When Red last reported in, he had just interviewed Kim Stare Wallace and was preparing to file his full mission report. As you can see from his tasting notes, above, Agent Red is deeply enamored with today’s wine. While our search from him proceeds, we provide you with a retransmission of his first mission to Dry Creek Vineyard, in which Agent Red first meets up with Kim.
If you have any information regarding Agent Red’s whereabouts, please report in immediately.
This time of year is crazy time for most California wineries. With the 2008 Harvest nearly complete, winery attention turns to crush and fermentation. The whole period is a pins and needles affair, when wineries begin to gauge the success of the crop. Some try to predict how the vintage will turn out.
My confidential informant at the winery, second generation winery family member and Vice President of Dry Creek Vineyard, Kim Stare Wallace, says that the winery takes a more pragmatic approach to crafting their exceptional wines:
KIM STARE WALLACE: When I hear of wineries predicting greatness for a particular vintage, I wonder how they can really know. The process of making wine is one that requires the persistent application of attention, art and science.
AGENT RED: Is this how your wines seem to improve so much each year?
KIM: I’m glad that you noticed! We are one of the oldest wineries in Sonoma County, having broken ground on our first vineyards in 1972. While there are plenty of great, small, family owned wineries in the area, ours is unique in the sense that we have more than 35 years of growing and winemaking experience in the Valley. We are so deeply committed to evolving and improving the quality of our wines.
RED: So, when do you begin to get a sense of the quality of the vintage?
RED: I’ll have to check back with you then. Recently you’ve made the decision to make wines from 100% Dry Creek Valley fruit. Is this approach more true to your roots?
KIM: Yes, but also, Dry Creek Valley grapes are the finest available. In our humble opinions, at least!
RED: According to our intel reports, your wines have gone from great to even better. What other decisions have led to the improvements?
KIM: Within the last 5 years we brought on new members to our winemaking team. With nearly 40 years of combined experience at some of the finest wineries in the world, our team is focused on creating Dry Creek Valley wines that are dynamic, exciting and uniquely us. Our wines present an authenticity and a quality that deliver a sense of our special region.
RED: Tell me a little about your 2005 Meritage, which, by the way, I am totally crazy about!
KIM: I am so glad that you love it. Most of us here at the winery feel the same way. In fact, its a go to wine for us when we are looking for a delicious wine to go with a great meal.
RED: It has great acidity and great fruit, making this a very food-friendly wine. Tell me, how was harvest this year?
KIM: (sighs) Well, for one, its over! We’re all breathing easier now. Harvest was fun this year, and it came earlier too. The final fruit was all picked by October 8th.
RED: And last year?
KIM: October 26th! We’re glad that its behind us, though, as it gives us time to place extra attention on fermentation and barreling. We’ll miss our harvest interns, though!
RED: I met a few of them. Nice mix of ‘kids’. Let’s see, one from France, one from Australia, a UC Davis oenology student. All of them future viticulturists or winemakers. Do you have interns every year?
KIM: Pretty much since my father started this winery 36 years ago.
RED: I see that you are getting ready to plant new vineyards. What’s going in this time?
KIM: On this side, probably Petite Verdot and Malbec, two great blending components. Across the street, we’ll be planting Zinfandel.
RED: Yummy! DCV Zin is great. Listen, I have to congratulate you on a few things. Ready?
RED: First, your 2007 Fumé Blanc beat out 1,052 other wines to be named Sweepstakes Winner at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair.
KIM: And you know what? This was the first year in nearly 20 that I have been attending that I could not go!
RED: Second, you were recently named Chairperson of the Meritage Association. Congrats on that! Third, your wine insider blog “Wilma’s Wine World” is a great read. I recommend it to all, but one suggestion?
RED: Change the name to “The Quantum of Wallace”!
KIM: Very James Bond. I like it, but I’m sticking with my original name!
RED: As perhaps you should. You know me, I think that everything should be spy-themed…
Be sure to visit Kim’s blog at: http://www.wilmaswineworld.com/
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Dry Creek Vineyard winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Dry Creek Vineyard
Praise for the 2004 Vintage:
This wine was just released and thus we have gathered a couple comments from the inaugural 2004 release.
“93 POINTS” – Wine Enthusiast – One of the best Bordeaux-style reds in memory from this warm Sonoma County appellation, this blend of all 5 Bordeaux varieties shows wild berry, plum, olive tapenade, spice and dried herb flavor, with tough, slightly rustic tannins that need time to melt. Give it until 2009, and should provide pleasure for another 5 or 6 years. Cellar Selection. March 2008
“FOUR STARS” – Decanter – A classic, mouthfilling blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, this wine is a lovely, complex tapestry of lush fruit, soft tannins and floral aromas. December 2007
About This Wine:
This is the second vintage of our premier Meritage blend, The Mariner. Utilizing all five of the noble Bordeaux varieties, this wine displays compelling aromas of wild black cherry, blue-berry, and dried flowers. On the palate, the fruit shines through with succulent cherry, dark chocolate, and cassis that integrate seamlessly with silky smooth tannins. The finish is memorable for its lingering fruit flavors that balance perfectly with creamy vanilla oak nuances. Meritage is an art form and nothing proves this more than this artful blend of classic varietals.
About The Winery:
Dry Creek Vineyard is one of the few remaining family owned wineries left in California. With more than 35 years of grape growing and winemaking experience, our efforts continue to focus on the quality of wine in the bottle. When founder David Stare started Dry Creek Vineyard, he began the winery with a single-minded effort to offer the highest quality wine possible at a reasonable price. Dave realized that the success of the winery hinged upon providing that “something special” in the bottle to keep customers coming back for more.
Today, the second generation continues to build upon those early-established values. Dave’s daughter, Kim Stare Wallace and her husband, Don Wallace, are wholly committed to the quality of wine produced at Dry Creek Vineyard. With an eye toward the future, Kim and Don continue their passion to produce high quality wines while being mindful of the original vision of the winery.
Grapes: 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 5% Malbec, 3% Cabernet Franc
Appellation: 100% Dry Creek Valley
Harvest: September 19 – October 18, 2005
Fermentation: Fermented 20 days at 83º F.
Barrel Aging: 25 months in French oak
Total Acidity: 0.57
Residual Sugar: Dry
Aging Potential: 8 – 12 years