Truett-Hurst Vineyards & Winery
2007 Balance by Heath Dolan - Red Field Blend
California: Mendocino County
What we say
Today’s wine delivers a drinking experience that exceeds its price-class, giving the wine a stellar QPR (Quality to Price Ratio)
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Mission Codename: Everything in life
Operative: Agent Red with Agent Eiswein
Objective: Return to Truett-Hurst Winery, return with their astoundingly delicious, budget-minded Balance, a biodynamic Red Blend that delivers a mighty experience at a low price
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Truett-Hurst
Wine Subject: 2007 Truett-Hurst Blanace by Heath Dolan
Winemaker: Heath Dolan
Backgrounder: When The Wine Spies first learned of Truett-Hurst Winery, we were instantly intrigued by their approach to winemaking. From their stellar winemaking team, to their sustainable practices, Truett-Hurst is a true stand-out winery that makes great wines. Agent Red recently returned to the winery, where he sat down to taste through their entire range of wines. He returns, triumphant, with today’s excellent Balance red blend from winemaker Heath Dolan, the son of Paul Dolan, the pioneer of sustainable winemaking. Read Red’s mission notes and tasting notes below.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep opaque blackberry-colored wine with a lighter-colored rim, stained tears and medium legs.
Smell – This wine is shy at first, but then reveals layers of sweet, jammy blackberry, black currant, plum skin and raisin with a touch of cinnamon.
Feel – This wine is smooth and supple on entry, with a medium weight. The wine fills the mouth with a juicy acidity and very soft tannins.
Taste – The wine leads with jammy, stewed blackberries, black cherries and black currants that blend beautifully with the flavors of raisin, dried plum and cinnamon. What is taken in on the nose is confirmed on the palate.
Finish – This silky wine has a surprisingly long finish, with the black currant, cinnamon, raisin and dried plum lingering the longest.
Conclusion – Once again, our good friends at Truett-Hurst delivers a wine that drinks well above its price class. Combine their remarkable track record for producing great wines, with winemaker Heath Dolan’s own skills, and you can’t help but end up with a fantastic wine. Today’s is a rich, fruity wine with a round, supple mouthfeel and elegant fruits. A lovely wine to drink on its own and savor all those layers of flavor. Would be lovely with lamb chops or steak right off the grill, or with a selection of blue cheeses.
What follows is a recap of our original mission to Truett-Hurst:
In the frenzied wine-a-day world of a secret wine agent, I can sometimes be moving so quickly from mission to mission that I lose sight of the natural wonder that is winemaking.
I recently had the great fortune to receive a hot tip from one of my operatives. His intel was fed into our Wine Internet Nexus Engine (W.I.N.E.) – and the results that came back classified Truett-Hurst as a Priority Target.
I was just coming off of a series of mission and I was tired. I was expecting a few days of R&R, but a Priority alert is never something that I can resist. According to the data on Truett, their Petite Sirah and their Zinfandels were their flagship wines. Their other wines merited investigation as well, but my focus was to be these.
My Operative had provided me with a contact at the winery. My mole there was to be [REDACTED], the General Manager of the winery. I called him and set an appointment for the next day.
On the morning of my mission, I wound my way through the beautiful Dry Creek Valley. Along the way, I passed several of our previously-featured wineries. Our Operatives love Dry Creek Valley wines and it was a joy to drive through the valley on this cold and misty morning.
On arrival at Truett-Hurst, I was struck by the serenity of the place. Despite the construction activity that was taking place (during their expansion), there was a definite vibe to the property.
The tasting room was charming and the round tasting bar was inviting and impressive. [REDACTED} greeted me as I approached and chatted for a few minutes about the winery and about its approach to farming, grape growing and winemaking. See the left column for more information about this unique style of farming.
I found the wines to be impressive, across the full range. I certainly did hone in on their Petite Sirah and Zinfandels – and then and there I secured an allotment of today’s wine.
Allocation secured for our Operatives, [REDACTED] invited me for a tour of the facility and the property. He explained that the winery was in the midst of a remarkable transformation.
[REDACTED] began by describing changes to the tasting room, including its transformation from tasting room to tasting lounge, a place for folks to meet and enjoy wines in a comfortable and inviting setting.
We then proceeded outside, where [REDACTED] described the new plantings would be going in. Included among these were, of course, new vines, but also numerous functional and productive gardens. The entire back area of the property will contain vegetable gardens, and gardens designed specifically to play host to beneficial insects. The entire front vineyards will host natures lawnmowers, free roaming sheep and chickens. The chickens will control the crab grasses that the valley is known for by scratching the ground, and the sheep will take care of the rest. Their hooves will provide the ground with needed aeration.
We then walked down to the pristine creek, where [REDACTED] described that the bank would be dotted with chaise lounges, where people could enjoy a glass of wine while watching native salmon and trout leaping out of the water.
The entire experience is one that I recommend that you have for yourself. Visit them the next time you are in the Dry Creek Valley. Meanwhile, for a taste of a very special wine from a very special winery, please enjoy today’s wonderful Burning Man Petite Sirah!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Truett-Hurst Winery, where today’s wine was crafted, can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
About This Wine:
2007 Red Field Blend – Mendocino – Biodynamic. Fresh Blueberries. Ripe Plums. Marcona Almonds. Tobacco Leaves. Dark Chocolate. Luxurious.
About The Winery:
Truett-Hurst Winery is Dry Creek Valley’s newest Biodynamic winery. Our commitment to earth-friendly stewardship is paramount and echoes throughout everything we do, from the scenic stretch of bucolic Dry Creek on which we reside, through the vineyards and tasting room.
We are planting heritage clones of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah and intend to produce world class wines from them. We will also produce traditional, decadently delicious Port. We intend to bring forth the best of what Dry Creek Valley has to offer.
The partnership of Phil & Sylvia Hurst, Paul Dolan, his son Heath Dolan and Mark De Meulenaere is committed to making Truett-Hurst Winery a place that you will want to visit again and again. We encourage you to visit us during the building of the winery and the planting of our vineyards. Come join us, and be a part of our biodynamic winery from the ground up!
Sustainable stewardship – that’s what we are all about. We are committed to caring for our little piece of paradise: we are using sustainable farming practices – including planting crops and a huge Biodynamic garden that complement our vineyards; attracting beneficial insects, building raptor boxes for owls and hawks and providing a home for chickens, sheep, goats and cattle, we are working on a project to preserve the steelhead trout and salmon that live in our stretch of Dry Creek and we are remodeling our visitor’s center with organic and reclaimed materials.
We invite you to join us on our journey. Bring a picnic, enjoy our world-class wines, ask us some questions about biodynamic farming, relax and stay a while.
About Biodynamic Farming:
Biodynamics is a more intensive and restricted process than organic farming. A certified Biodynamic® farm meets all organic standards, such as the prohibited use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and synthetic fungicides. The biodynamic approach goes further, requiring disciplined soil enrichment, constant observation, labor-intensive fieldwork, and ongoing, intuitive awareness. A biodynamic farmer maintains a close connection with the land.
- Biodynamic farming develops a self-contained ecosystem, integrating the cultivated land with the surrounding environment. Ideally, only farm-produced organic composts and manure amend the soil. Domestic animal life integrates with plant life. Year-round cover and companion crops provide host environments for beneficial insects. Diligent handwork controls weeds.
- The health of the soil increases the expression of terroir, that unique “taste of place”. Throughout the growing season, the farmer applies a series of nutrient-rich biodynamic preparations to the soil, thereby stimulating the life.
- Responding to the natural life forces above and below the ground, biodynamic farming aligns farming practices, such as pruning, planting, and the applications of special preparations, with the lunar cycles.
- Biodynamic® certification by the Demeter Association, a non-profit, independent organization, guarantees that the farm has met specific standards of biodynamic agriculture.
Our Winemaking Team:
Phil Hurst – Phil Hurst grew up on a 1000-acre ranch on the eastern hills of Napa Valley where his family raised cattle, horses and sheep. “That’s what gave me the ag bug,” says Phil. He is still proud of the reserve grand champion steer that he raised to show at the Napa Town and Country Fair.
As a teenager he worked in wineries during summers. When he headed to the University of California at Davis, he intended to become a veterinarian, but a great summer job at Domaine Chandon inspired a new vision. Phil studied Fermentation Science, earning a BS degree in 1985, the same year he joined Paul Dolan and the winemaking team at Fetzer Vineyards. “We did a lot of organic farming then, with great results,” Phil recalls. When Brown-Forman (B-F) purchased the winery from the Fetzer family in 1992, B-F appointed Phil their International Winemaker.
After 12 years at Fetzer, Phil joined Golden State Vineyards (GSV), serving as Vice President of International Sales. While at GSV, Phil met the people who became his partners in Winery Exchange, a venture-backed company founded in 1999 to source, create and develop private labels and national brands of fine beer, wine and spirits. In 2007 sales reached $50 million. Phil is co-founder and was Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing.
Over the years the Dolan-Hurst relationship, which began at Fetzer, has grown. The two families share a mutual dream: to build a small wine estate where they can practice the highest level of earth-friendly farming and make the finest wine. In 2007 Phil and his wife Sylvia joined Paul and Heath Dolan in the purchase of a 24-acre property in the heart of Dry Creek Valley. Phil loves this land – its beautiful views of the valley and neighboring hills, pristine character and creek-side venues. “I want this to be a family legacy where my boys will someday get involved with winemaking, grapegrowing and marketing. Right now, I want them to learn to drive the tractor,” says Phil.
Phil and his wife Sylvia live in Dry Creek Valley, Healdsburg, with their two sons.
Virginia Lambrix – Raised on her family’s farm in upstate New York, Ginny Lambrix graduated from Colgate University with a degree in Psychology. She began her career as a chemical ecologist for the Max Planck Institute in eastern Germany. While on holiday in South Africa, she tasted her first “serious wine”. She was captivated, and within a year she was studying Horticulture and Agronomy at the University of California, Davis. Her focus was Viticulture and Enology; in 2003 she received her MS degree.
She worked in Chile for Concha y Toro; while there Ginny visited a vineyard that impressed her with the potential of Biodynamic® farming. “There was so much life in that vineyard,” she recalls. Ever since that revelation in 2005, she has been a student of Rudolf Steiner and biodynamic farming. “The more I study organics and biodynamics, the more I realize that the inherent respect for nature and ecology makes sense both scientifically and intuitively.”
Before joining Truett Hurst in 2008, Ginny worked at Hendry Ranch in Napa Valley and for Lynmar Winery and De Loach Vineyards in the Russian River Valley. At De Loach Vineyards for 3 years, she worked closely with growers to move their estates to organic and biodynamic farming practices to improve quality and moderate farming costs. Ginny has worked for La Follette Winegrowing, consulting on viticulture and winemaking projects.