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Wine Review: Dry Creek a California stalwart

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Dry Creek Vineyard is one of the stalwarts of the California wine industry.

The winemakers at Dry Creek have always been able to coax the best in flavor, aroma and quality out of the grapes that they carefully select for their wines. While they also make classic varieties, they also have gained a reputation for what their winemakers can do with lesser known grape varieties and styles.
Unfortunately, some wineries buy finished wines of lesser known varieties from a central source and then bottle them under their own label. Not very nice, but a common practice often used to broaden a wineries portfolio.

At Dry Creek Vineyard, the grapes they use are monitored throughout the entire growing period. They are then selectively picked during harvest to get the best possible quality out of each grape. This is tedious work, but one taste of a Dry Creek wine will convince you it was worth it.
Dry Creek Vineyard 2015 Old Vines Zinfandel ($35)
So, what is all of the brouhaha over old vines? Do geriatric vines make better wine, or at least different wines, than their juvenile compatriots? In the case of the zinfandel, they sure do. It seems the grapes from these older vines produce wines that are more intense in flavor and aroma with a longer, smoother aftertaste than their younger brethren. But as with anything good, there is a downside: These older vines do not produce many grapes, so the supply of their wines is always limited. This is a wine that exalts the fruit flavors and aromas of blueberries and cherries along with a deep earthy flavor and a background of oak and a suggestion of allspice. The aftertaste is just as impressive, full of flavor and exciting. If you have never tried a zinfandel with barbecue meats of any type, you are in for a memorable surprise.
Dry Creek Vineyard 2017 Clarksburg Chenin Blanc ($15)
Chenin blanc is another one of those varieties that has had a miserable past in California. It is famous for the wines made in the Loire Valley of France that are, for the most part, sweet. Chenin blanc previously was used mainly as a filler in cheap white wines and jug wines and was looked upon as a grape variety without much of a future in the fine wine community. The winemakers at Dry Creek Vineyard saw a better future in it. What resulted is an elegant dry wine offering the aromas of melon, peach and lemon peel. On the palate, the wine displays the flavors of tropical fruits, honeysuckle and rose petal. The finish is fruity and complex. This wine lifts the commonplace chenin blanc to new heights.
Dry Creek Vineyard 2017 Fume Blanc ($15)
A great deal of talent went into making this wine. The aroma has a positive green apple and fresh cut grass aroma with lemon, white pepper and black olives in the background. The flavor has a signature smoky element, as well as pineapple and lemon with a hint of oak and spices. While most fume blanc wines are relegated to the accompaniment of shellfish or seafood, this wine will fit well with vegetable dishes and poultry.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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