Raymond Burr Vineyards
2008 Dry Creek Valley Chardonnay
California: Dry Creek Valley (Sonoma)
What we say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s Chardonnay is a delicious delight that earned our top honor of ‘Superior Wine’. Perfect for your Fall dining, please don’t miss out on this fantastic Chardonnay. Oh, yeah, you may want to stock up for the Holiday’s as well.
SECRET SAVINGS ALERT:
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Mission Codename: The Orchid
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Send Agent Red back to Raymond Burr winery, to retrieve their just-in-time-for-summer, gold medal-winning, 2007 Chardonnay – before it goes on lock-down!
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: Raymond Burr Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2008 Chardonnay
Winemaker: Phyllis Zouzounis
Backgrounder: Named after the late actor, Raymond Burr Vineyards may be best known for its exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon, but their Chardonnay is truly their hidden gem. The Dry Creek Valley, in Northern Sonoma County, receives more rain and enjoys a longer growing season than neighboring regions. These conditions make for perfect Chardonnay grape growing.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Pale straw yellow with a viscous-looking surface that seems nicely weighty, hinting at the mouthfeel to come. When you swirl this wine, it settles quickly – and leaves behind skinny legs that start high up on the glass.
Smell – A focused and fine aromatic profile, with a gentle waft of citrus, fresh white flowers, orange blossoms, gentlest hazelnut, sweet cream and apple pastry.
Feel – Ultra-plush and voluptuous on entry. Then, an easy dryness spreads across the palate, beginning at the rear and moving forward with a bright acidity and soft white spiced-minerals.
Taste – Fresh and clean, with flavors of citrus, lemon zest, white citrus flowers, yellow grapefruit and flint. Hints of light spice, green apple, honey and soft oak round out the palate.
Finish – Creamy at first, then the flavors tail off slowly, moving from sweet citrus to zesty soft spice. After a few moments, white flowers and soft spice coat the mouth as soft white minerals gently hold remaining flavors for a long time.
Conclusion – We featured Raymond Burr’s exceptional 2007 Chardonnay and we loved it. So, too, did our Operatives. The snapped it up in record numbers last year. This wine is even better – and so, dear Operative, I encourage you to partake of today’s offer. With fresher fruit and a beautiful floral profile, the wine possesses a tender mouthfeel that our tasting panel went wild for, this year. The wine is fantastic, right out of the chiller, but if you allow the wine to warm, slightly, additional layers of flavors and aromas emerge. The wine becomes softer and far more enjoyable. This is a fantastic food-friendly wine that is the perfect accompaniment to most meals, and we recommend that you stockpile a few bottles for your coming Holiday gatherings. Cheers!
With the grape harvest well underway, our friends at Raymond Burr Vineyards are buried in grapes. We tried to sit down with them for a new interview, today, but they are understandably preoccupied.
Please enjoy the following recap of our inaugural mission to Raymond Burr Vineyards -
Prior Mission Recap:
Ask anyone to describe Raymond Burr in a single word and, resoundingly, you will likely hear, Classy.
The veteran actor, for whom today’s winery was honorarily named, was also a cultivator of orchids, a war hero, a philanthropist and more. Most of all, he was cherished and loved by his close friends, who say that his warmth, humor and compassion made him a remarkable man.
When I was given the mission – finally – to seek out a new Cabernet Franc, I riffled through my mental Rolodex and recalled hearing great things about a Cab Franc from Raymond Burr Winery. In fact, it was in the most unusual way that I had come to hear of the wine in the first place.
On returning from a mission to Latin America, our flight got in to Miami too late to make our connecting flight back to California. the airline put us up in a swanky hotel and the next morning we found ourselves in a shuttle back to the Airport. I struck up a conversation with a young couple who were also on our inbound flight and, as always, I steered the conversation toward wine. We compared tastes in varietals and found that Cab Franc wines were among our very favorites. We traded recommendations and they assured me that Raymond Burr had a wine that I would be sure to love.
Now that I was finally assigned a Cab Franc mission I knew just where to go, so I called proprietor and long time companion to Mr. Burr, Robert Benevides. I used the direct approach and told him that I was very interested in sampling his wine and, if they passed the test, feature his Cabernet Franc here for our Operatives to enjoy.
I enjoyed this exceptional wine more with each sip. With enough time to stretch out in the air, the wine really opens up and loses the rough edges present on opening. For best results, decant the wine for a few hours – and enjoy at cellar temperature.
Aromas, flavors, acid and mouth-feel are all in harmony here and the finish is really very unique. If you love great Cabernet Franc, look no further Operative, its right here.
Finally, I remember hearing a story about Mr. Burr that sums up his life and his wines: While working with Errol Flynn, Flynn told Mr. Burr that if he died with ten dollars in his pocket he hadn’t done a good job. This inspired Mr. Burr to always share his wealth with all. His legacy lives on in today’s wine from Mr. Burr’s namesake winery.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Raymond Burr Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
Awards & Accolades:
GOLD MEDAL – Orange County Wine Competition, 2010
About This Wine:
“green apple, bright floral combination. Attractive baked apple aroma with a note of toasted oak. Full body with a creamy mouth feel. Well balanced finish and a pleasant after-taste.” – Winemaker, Phyllis Zouzounis
About The Winery:
Twelve years ago, Raymond Burr and I walked the rolling bench of Dry Creek Valley, the manzanita-covered foot of Bradford Mountain. Our dream took shape with the first plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon in 1986, and now comes to fruition with this brilliantly-complex wine. Only 1,040 cases were produced which have rested for 18 months in oak barrels before being bottled in November of 1992. I release this vintage in tribute to his vision and impeccable taste.
Thus, the back label of the 1990 Raymond Burr Cabernet Sauvignon the premier vintage of this vineyard.
Raymond Burr and Robert Benevides had met, as professional actors, in the middle 1950s on the television program which was to make a legend of Burr, “Perry Mason.” Motivated in the beginning by friendship, the Burr/Benevides relationship was bolstered and advanced by their individual interest in, and knowledge of, the cultivation and hybridization of orchids. In the next several years this shared hobby began to grow until the obvious resolution was to make it a commercial venture. And so, Sea God Nurseries was born, becoming in the 20-odd years of its life an international presence with ranges in Fiji, Hawaii, the Azores Islands and in Southern California. During this period, the partnership was responsible for over 1,500 new orchids added to the world-wide catalogue.
Phyllis Zouzounis – Pioneer woman winemaker, Phyllis Zouzounis came to Raymond Burr Vineyards at the beginning of the 2006 grape harvest. The terraced hillside, along with the soil and temperatures of the Raymond Burr benchland estate enticed Phyllis to this special spot.
Phyllis is not new to the Dry Creek Valley. She began her winemaking career working at Dry Creek Vineyard in 1980. After 15 years of experience there she moved on as winemaker and general manager of another Dry Creek winery just down the road, Mazzocco Vineyards. In 1987 Phyllis and her partner, Jim Penpraze, started their own Dry Creek winery, Deux Amis, making award winning Zinfandels.
Zouzounis believes grapes grown in the Dry Creek Valley can produce high quality wines. The 100% estate grown vineyards at Raymond Burr offer her the challenge to produce great Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and rich, fruity Chardonnay. “Great wine starts in the vineyard with quality grapes. The Raymond Burr vineyard is a good example of this,” she will tell you. “Because it is an estate vineyard winery, this allows Raymond Burr Vineyards to create and preserve the quality in the vineyard first and then follow through to the finished wine.”
Phyllis Zouzounis is a great believer in balance. “My focus is balance. Balance of the vine, balance of the fruit and balance in the wine.”