Dry Creek Vineyard
2005 Somers Ranch Zinfandel
Zinfandel •Somers Ranch Vineyard
California: Sonoma County: Dry Creek Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Explore. Dream. Discover.
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Locate an expressive Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel for our Zinfandel-loving Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: Dry Creek Vineyard
Wine Subject: 2005 Somers Ranch Zinfandel
Winemaker: Lisa Bishop Forbes
Our operatives know that Dry Creek Vineyard makes a exceptional wines. In 2008, our Operatives graced Dry Creek Vineyard with a Wine Spies Intrigue Award, our annual awards for the best wines of the year. For today’s wine, Agent Red was dispatched back to the winery to hand-pick another fantastic DVC wine. He chose their 2005 Somers Ranch Zinfandel, a wine that is extremely popular with DCV’s own wine club. Read Agent Red’s complete tasting profile and mission report below for the full intel on today’s great wine
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – This wine is dark ruby red with excellent clarity, continuous color out to its edges and a surface that has an intriguing finely-polished look to it. When swirled, the wine settles quickly, leaving behind legs of varying widths – that move down the glass at varying speeds, another unique attributeSmell – On opening, the wine presents a slightly tight nose, like that which you might find on a very young wine. Allow the wine to breath for 15 minutes and your olfactory will be awarded with deep aromas of ripe blackberries, currants, raspberries, and cherries, gently layered on a base of cocoa, licorice, the softest hint of black tea and cedar
Feel – This wine is medium-bodied and very smooth with fine tannins, clean acidity with a peppery tang on the mid-palate
Taste – Ripe blackberries and dark cherry take the lead, to be followed by rich plum, toast, oak and spice
Finish – The finish is smooth and rich, leading off with its dark fruits, and backed by its cedar, toast and spices
Conclusion – This is a wine as distinctive as the intriguing vineyard that is comes from. Decant this wine for fifteen minutes or more and be intrigued at what emerges. On first opening, we found the wine to taste slightly oxidized. After letting it sit for a spell, the wine that emerged surprised – and delighted us! Rich, delicious and fraught with darkly lush flavors, this wine is a dusky Zin with a fine elegance to balance it out. This wine is just what you would expect from a Dry Creek Vineyard Zin, and worthy of its many accolades and awards
Below we have included Agent Red’s original mission report and interview with Dry Creek Vineyard’s president Kim Stare Wallace, when we featured DCV’s excellent 2005 Meritage. Keep in mind, that many consider DCV’s finest wines to be their Zins….
Autumn (when the following interview originally took place) 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. What is your favorite pairing?
KIM: Ahhh. I am so glad that you asked. I’ll transmit my favorite recipe to you after our meeting. Share it with your Operatives.
[see left for a great pairing suggestion and recipe]
RED: Thank you! I look forward to that. 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 Somers Ranch vineyard can be seen in this satellite photo.
Wine Spies Winery Check:
The location of the Dry Creek Vineyard winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
92 Points – Wine Enthusiast – When Dry Creek gets it right, few wineries anywhere can beat their Zins. Somers Ranch is in the eastern hills, where it gets the full benefit of the afternoon sun. The wine is impressive in ripe blackberries, currants, licorice and cocoa, but maintains a beautiful structure, with soft, fine tannins and just-in-time acidity.
Four Stars – Restaurant Wine – Generously flavored, full bodied, very supple in texture, and quite ripe (blackberry, plum), with a long, smooth finish. It tastes of black licorice, toast, and spicy oak.
Exceptional – Dan Berger’s Vintage Experiences – Wild currant, spice, a trace of oak, but mainly a rich, layered, and complex red wine that works with hearty pasta and pizzas.
About This Wine:
Somers Ranch is an exceptional vineyard located in the eastern hills of the Dry Creek Valley. At first swirl, aromas of boysenberry, cherry, and pepper provide an exciting preview for the flavors that follow. On the palate, the fruit is succulent and rich, without being overpowering. The tannins are smooth and integrated and develop further with more time in the glass. This wine displays impeccable balance and structure for a young Zinfandel and should continue to develop for the next five years.
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: 100% Zinfandel
Appellation: 100% Dry Creek Valley
Harvest: October 12, 2005
Fermentation: Fermented 24 days at 84°F
Barrel Aging: 19 months in French and American oak
Total Acidity: 0.56
Residual Sugar: Dry
Aging Potential: 10-15 years