What We Say 2007 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
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Mission Codename: Fratelli Dorati
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Acquire a limited allocation of Simi’s 2007 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Simi Winery
Wine Subject: 2007 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
Winemaker: Susan Lueker
Zinfandel is related to the Italian Primitivo grape, tracing its origin to the Croatian grape Crljenak Kastelanski. Zinfandel is one of the most versatile varietals with the ability to make wines, both rich to fruity, dark to light, and dry to sweet. The Dry Creek Valley, where this Zinfandel’s grapes are are grown are characterized by their bright and balanced flavors, distinct minerality and spice are quite in popularity with our Operatives.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep garnet with ruby and violet hues that shine through its dark but clear heart. Along the edges the color remains deep ruby and when swirled, medium thick legs of varying speeds descend to the wine below.
Smell – Medium bold in intensity with aromas of ripe and tart raspberries, blackberries and other bramble fruit. A distinct Dry Creek Valley dusty minerality layers over savory spice, bramble herbal notes and a touch of vanilla toast.
Feel – This dry and full-bodied Zinfandel is rich and smooth in the initial attack immediately followed by peppery spice, bright acidity and finely textured and well structured tannins coats the palate and lingers into the finish.
Taste – Vibrant and youthful in character, flavors of red raspberry and blackberry as well as plum lead off on the fruit side with a kick of pepper and smokey cedar. Savory spices, bramble and earthy notes along with subtle hints of dark cocoa, vanilla and forest reveal themselves and linger as you swallow.
Finish – Focused with with a lingering spice and minerality coating the palate and the wild raspberry and bramble fruit and herbs fading ever so slowly until another sip is taken.
Conclusion – The 2007 Simi Winery Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel is a bright and fresh Zin with great spicy pepper and minerality. Youthful in its fruit and bright in its acidity makes this great for food pairing if enjoyed now and with enough structure to cellar for a few years as well.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Susan Lueker
DATE OF BIRTH: August/1964
PLACE OF BIRTH: Little Rock, Arkansas
WINE EDUCATION: University of Missouri, UCD
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Always in Sonoma County. Started at Hacienda Winery in Sonoma Valley, brief stint at KJ in Geyserville, 7 years at Dry Creek Vineyard and 9 years at Simi
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Keep it simple, let the fruit speak for itself, try not to overwhelm fruit with oak, I like higher acids makes the wine work better with food and keeps flavors lively
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Love Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: I think I’m still waiting for that, I love it when people really enjoy the wine and want to drink more.
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: I just did a winemaker dinner, actually I think the wine was the fluff with Tom Colichio and John Legend in New York. Simi’s wines show perfectly with the food, John sang for our dessert. Sweet!
WINEMAKER QUOTE: I’ve got the best job in the world, I love what I do, I hope it shows in the wine.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Susan. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
SUSAN LUEKER: My pleasure
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
SUSAN: I do remember a few wine stained sunsets that were magnificent, all the best times in my life have been associated with the consumption of wine. Wine just makes good times brighter
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
SUSAN: some at school, UCD, but mostly on the job. Watching color and aromas develop during pumpovers, putting your back into punch down. I also liked to think the things we did in the cellar had a positive impact on the wine. Topping barrels to keep them fresh and healthy, inoculating fermentations to be able to sleep. Experimenting every year to find something new and better for the wine. Tasting to see development, blending to make the best wine possible.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
SUSAN: Keep it simple, don’t over think it. Start with the best grapes available use the yeast that will give you the flavor/structure character you want, keep your barrels/tanks topped and the wine healthy.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
SUSAN: Hard to say, I really respect everyone I’ve been fortunate to work with and I think they’ve all shaped my winemaking…. Eric Laumann, John Hawley, Larry Levine, Miro Tcholakov, Nick Goldschmidt, and Steve Reeder. They all have unique styles and place more emphasis on different processes.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
SUSAN: 18 years?? Is that possible?
RED: Who do you make wine for?
SUSAN: I enjoy the process, but the end product is for the consumer. I like to think the wine is enjoyed with a great meal, but it could easily go with sitting on the porch watching life go by.
RED: Tell me, what makes the Dry Creek Valley so special?
SUSAN: Great soils for growing grapes along with the climate, warm days with a cooling breeze that comes every day around 3, letting you know it’s time to start wrapping things up.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
SUSAN: You’ll need to like to work hard, playing hard is not bad either.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
SUSAN: Getting wines ready for bottling. And getting all the 09 wines tucked in for Christmas break.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
SUSAN: This wine comes from three vineyards. The zins are from Ray and Bob and the Petite Sirah from George. Each grower lives in the vineyard and watch the vines very closely, they’re really in tune with them, so it’s makes my job easy. Ray’s zin is super aromatic, beautiful red raspberry, slightly perfumy, tastes and smells great right from the beginning. Ray’s fruit is a little darker, hangs on the vine for 2 to 4 weeks longer and has more blue/black berry character, more earthiness. The petite from George is dark and rich, in 2008, I think it was the best stand alone fruit with brought into the winery.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
SUSAN: We have a wood fired pizza oven, on occasion we get to put together our own creations, but our chef Eric Lee does a better job. He made a Gorgonzola, caramelized onion combo that was fantastic with this wine. I love it with a miso glazed salmon dish, too. Not bad with chicken liver with a balsamic reduction or a simple lamb burger. Can you tell I like to eat?
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
SUSAN: I love watching football on Sundays from a bar stool.
RED: What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
SUSAN: I’m really enjoying a friends GSM at the moment. It’s really a seasonal thing for me.
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
SUSAN: Look for the good in it, it’s meant to be enjoyed not dissected
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
SUSAN: Champagne, Brut Rose is my fave, possibly from Krug
RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
SUSAN: I always like to ask people what they had to drink last night with dinner. I had a margarita with Mexican food
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
SUSAN: Thanks, good, interesting questions. Keep enjoying the wine. Thanks, again.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Simi Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Deep ruby with a purple edge. Red raspberry, blackberry brambles spiced with cedar, smoke and hints of vanilla. Full and rich with jammy berries and notes of toast, cedar and cocoa.
About The Winery:
A lot of what we do at Simi is based on tradition, enhanced with cutting-edge innovation. Our philosophy has always been to maintain the quality and style that we’re recognized for, while at the same time improve our methods for growing grapes and crafting wines to reflect the experience and knowledge we are accumulating and have been throughout the winery’s 125-year history.
Long ago we also realized the importance of Alexander Valley and knew that it would be a leading appellation for growing Bordeaux varietals. Today we showcase the region with our Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot as well as our vineyard-designated Landslide Cabernet Sauvignon.
In 1989 we purchased our Russian River Valley Goldfields Vineyard and planted it to hand-selected original cuttings from some of the best and oldest vineyards in California. This innovative technique gives us the amazing diversity of flavors that has made Simi’s Russian River Reserve Chardonnay famous.
With every taste of Simi wines you’ll discover our devotion to tradition that is enhanced by our pursuit of the best vineyards, the best grape-growing methods, and the best winemaking techniques.
About The Winemaker:
Steve Reeder – Twenty-six years after his first harvest at Alexander Valley Vineyards, Steve Reeder returned to his winemaking roots, becoming Vice President of Winemaking for Simi Winery in August 2003.
Reeder, an internationally recognized winemaker, has received wide acclaim throughout the wine industry for many varieties, especially the Bordeaux-varietal wines. Among his accomplishments was securing the number one and number two places on Wine Spectator’s prestigious Top 100 Wines of the Year list in 1999 and 2002 respectively for Cinq Cépages, Chateau St. Jean’s proprietary Bordeaux-varietal blend.
“When you think of the great wineries of Sonoma County, Chateau St. Jean and Simi are at the top of the list.” Reeder confides, “In fact, I’ve lived across the street from Simi for many years and have thought it would be just a matter of time before I worked here.”
The son of an Air Force pilot, Reeder is a third-generation Californian who spent a large portion of his childhood on the East Coast and in Europe, primarily Germany and France. A childhood fascination with fermenting things later inspired him to return to his home state and earn a degree in Fermentation Sciences at the University of California at Davis.
After a brief stint of winemaking in California, he began a ten-year period of winemaking on the East Coast. In 1992, Reeder went to Kendall Jackson, and in 1994 he and his family moved to Healdsburg, to return home. In 1997, he became the Winemaker and Director of Operations for Chateau St. Jean.
At Simi Winery, Reeder has come full circle and has satisfied his aspirations of living up to his Sonoma beginnings. “I’m returning to Healdsburg and the Alexander Valley where I started 26 years ago.”
Varietals: 91% Zinfandel, 9% Petit Sirah
Wine Type: Red Wine
Appellation: Dry Creek Valley