Raymond Burr Vineyards
2008 Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Franc • Raymond Burr Estate Vineyard
California: Dry Creek Valley (Sonoma)
What we say
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Mission Codename: Days of wine and orchids II
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Operatives loved the previous Raymond Burr Cabernet Franc, making it one of our best-selling Francs of the day. Send Agent Red back to Burr to sample their newest 100% Cabernet Franc. If the wine is extraordinary, procure an allotment for our Franc-loving Operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Raymond Burr Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2008 Cabernet Franc
Winemaker: Phyllis Zouzounis
Backgrounder: Cabernet Franc is one of Agent Red’s favorite red varietals. Perhaps this is because its flavors are often rich, layered, complex and elegant. Or, perhaps he loves Cabernet Franc so much because it pairs so easily with many different foods. One of the most notable things about Cabernet Franc is the fact that finding excellent examples can be very difficult This explains why we show very few Francs. When we got a hot tip that Raymond Burr Vineyards (yes, that Raymond Burr) had an incredible new Cabernet Franc, we sent Agent Red to investigate. Read his tasting notes and mission report below.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep red hues that remind us of black cherry jell-o. Color is even from core to edge, where the thinnest rend of ruby encircles the wine. Thin, tightly-spaced legs appear almost immediately after swirling, and then streak down to the surface of the wine.
Smell – Candied cherry and brambly blackberry leap from the glass. Even before raising the glass to our noses, these authentic aromas hit us. After a deep inhalation, the initial notes are followed by aromas of dried blueberry, black cherry, dried black rose petals, sweetwoods and a hint of exotic spice.
Feel – Soft and light across the entry. As the wine crosses the mid-palate, it gradually takes on a delightfully chewy feel. It ultimately coats the entire palate as fine-grained tannins add additional texture. An easy dryness soon follows, spreading slowly from the center of the palate, and radiating outward.
Taste – Bold black cherry and smoky cherry take the lead. These are quickly joined by tart cassis, blackberry, dried black flower petals, dark chocolate dust, bramble. At the end, a unique and tasty woodsy flavors emerges.
Finish – Long and flavorful, with cherry yielding to the darker fruits and the uniquely earthen, woodsy, characteristics. The long finish takes you from one flavor to another, in a very distinctive manner; one flavor dwindles, before the next flavor appears.
Conclusion – This is a deliciously balanced Franc that our tasting panel went crazy for. Given its relative youth, we expected it to be tight and hard edged. This was not the case at all; the wine shows great fruit with a great acidity. The earthen characteristics, particularly the woodsy flavor and the bramble, add terrific balance to the bright red fruits. Smooth on the palate, with no rough edges, this is a beautiful Summertime sipping wine. Here at Wine Spies HQ, we pair great Franc like this one with almost anything. This wine is a great BBQ wine, and you can be sure that we’ll keep a few bottles around of the Fall and Winter.
Special Note: For those afraid of the green characteristics that can sometimes plague the varietal, fear not! This wine is bursting with bright red flavors that are tempered by earthy notes, not green pepper notes.
Alas, dear Operative… Winemaker, Phyllis Zouzounis, was too busy making wine, to sit with us for an interview. What follows, for your enjoyment, is a retransmission of one of our early missions to Raymond Burr Vineyards.
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 Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
Awards & Accolades:
GOLD MEDAL – San Diego International Wine Competition 2011
About This Wine:
“Richly layered with touches of cedar and espresso, this wine has complex dried berry flavors and a hint of smokey cinnamon from our hillside bench terroir. Less than 451 cases were produced.” – 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.”
Appellation: Dry Creek Valley
Vineyard: Raymond Burr Estate Vineyard
Varietal Blend: 100% Estate Cabernet Franc
Production: 451 Cases
Barrel Aging: 22 Months in American & French Oak
Harvested: September 16, 2008
Brix at harvest: 23.2
Bottled: September 22, 2010