2007 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
California: Dry Creek Valley (Sonoma)
What we say
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Mission Codename: The Essence of Zinfandel
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Peterson Winery, a perennial Wine Spies Operative favorite. Secure an ample allocation of their newest Zinfandel, a true stunner from the Dry Creek Valley.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Peterson Winery
Wine Subject: 2007 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
Winemakers: Jamie Peterson
Backgrounder: Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley is a treasure trove of great wines. Arguably, the region is best known for producing some of the finest Zinfandel in the country. For today’s wine Agent Red returned to Peterson Winery, a Wine Spies favorite, and visited with Jamie Peterson, second generation winemaker and son of Fred Peterson, the founder and winegrower for the winery. Read about Agent Reds visit with Jamie, following his tasting notes and mission report below.
Varietal Backgrounder: 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. Dry Creek Valley Zinfandels, which are characterized by their balance and juiciness, are gaining in popularity with our Operatives.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep, dark purple, with darker and slightly opaque core. After swirling, skinny, wine-stained legs start high up on the wall of the glass before crawling slowly downward.
Smell – Aromas leap from the glass, exuding fruit and spice from two feet away. Bold spiced blueberry and blackberry jam are joined by black cherry, darkest chocolate, brown spice and a hint of white pepper.
Feel – Slightly dry on entry, this wine really digs in at the mid-palate, where it takes on a full-bodied feel. A mineral-driven dryness spreads the the corners of the mouth, causing a puckering effect. Big tannins and a balanced acidity contribute to the plush feel – while driving flavors long into the finish.
Taste – Dark cherry, under-ripe blackberry and tart cherry lead the way. Close behind are darkest-roast espresso bean, oak, flint and darkly toasted oak.
Finish – Long and dry, with flavors the are sustained even after a flinty dryness makes you pucker. As flavors tail off, flint and pepper remain.
Conclusion – Chalk up another victory for Jamie and Fred Peterson! They’ve managed to craft another exceptional Zinfandel that is long on flavor, aromatics and value. Don’t tell them that we said so, but we think that today’s wine is under priced. Use this to your advantage, dear Operative, and stock up on this High QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) wine. Aromatics are huge. After pouring a glass, aromas of fruit and spice were obvious from a few feet away. On lifting the glass to nose, these aromas became more intense, with aromas of authentic, fresh fruit. Be sure to decant for optimal results, as there is a kick to the oak – at first. As the wine breathes, the oak becomes beautifully integrated with the rich fruit flavors. With an ultra long finish, this is a wine to really take your time with. With a balanced acidity, this is also a wine to dine with. Pair with tangy BBQ or a grilled steak. Perfection!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Jamie Peterson
DATE OF BIRTH: March 20, 1981
PLACE OF BIRTH: Saratoga, CA (Mt. Eden Vineyards)
WINE EDUCATION: Ongoing, on-the-job. UC Davis Extension chemistry/lab analysis/viticulture classes.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Grew up in Peterson Winery, helping with odd jobs in the winery and vineyard as a teenager. Worked first harvest at 19, and then traveled to Australia and New Zealand to work harvest in 2001. took over as Assistant Winemaker at Peterson Winery in 2002. Given full Winemaker responsibility in 2006. 13 harvests under the belt at age 29.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: “Zero Manipulation”/Minimal intervention, letting the vineyard and vintage show through in each bottling. No fining, no filtration. Minimal new oak usage, minimal additions and SO2 use.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel (but his Syrah is amazing)
WINEMAKER QUOTE: ”If it ain’t got the root, it ain’t got the fruit.”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: For Peterson Winery- 1991. For Jamie- 2002 Vintage, released in 2004
AGENT RED: Greetings, Jamie. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Syrah, today. We love the wine!! Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today. And, thanks for making such amazing wines!
JAMIE: As always, it’s great to be back with The Wine Spies.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
JAMIE: It’d be hard to pick one. Growing up with the sights, sounds, and smells of the winery and vineyards, there were many inspirational moments. But I didn’t think I’d be getting into the life of wine as deeply as I have until I worked harvests in 2001 in Australia and New Zealand. Working closely with other winemakers and seeing the international wine community and how it ties people together made me decide to come back to the family winery and join full time in 2002.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
JAMIE: From my father, growing up in the winery, and learning on the job.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
JAMIE: I believe that vineyard and vintage driven wines are the only reason for small wineries to exist. I prefer wines from different vintages to reflect the growing season (otherwise why put the vintage on the bottle?) rather than use additives (acid, tannins, enzymes, gum arabic, overblown new oak, etc) or technological processes (filtration, alcohol removal, micro-oxygenation) to create wines that taste the same each year. I don’t filter or fine our wines, and I predominantly use native yeast fermentations and malo-lactics, so we have to keep things clean and monitor closely, as we don’t choose to use the tools for fixing mistakes that some wineries do. We source from the same vineyards each year, so there is a thread of continuity running through vintages. Our vineyards are sustainably farmed, with a few certified organic, and a number of others dry-farmed.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
JAMIE: I’m inspired by European vintners who have made wines from the same places for generations, and haven’t succumbed to commercialism.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
JAMIE: 2002 was my first full year of working with wines from grape to bottle. 2000 was the first full harvest I worked with my father. At 29, I have 13 harvests under my belt (including working in both Australia and New Zealand in 2001).
RED: Who do you make wine for?
JAMIE: I make wines for my own tastes, and then we find enough people that share our ideas and style to buy it. We don’t normally submit our wines for scoring or competitions, and instead rely on word of mouth and community to find enough supporters.
RED: Tell me, what makes the Dry Creek Vallley so special?
JAMIE: The Dry Creek Valley features and amazing array of soil types and exposures for such a geographically small area, leading to a diverse range of flavors and subtleties in wines, for many different varietals, or even of the same varietal. We are able to create 5 Zinfandels from vineyards within a few miles of each other that are extremely unique. Also our weather pattern (most years) lends itself to perfectly ripening the many varieties we produce. Warm sunny days followed by cool nights allow grapes to ripen while retaining natural acidity and freshness.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
JAMIE: Realize that winemaking is both simple and complicated. It’s all just fermented grape juice, but it’s all about the details; every minute little thing you do or don’t do to the grapes or wine will affect how it turns out. Taste as much as you can and think about who you will be making wine for.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
JAMIE: We are getting ready for harvest, sampling vineyards and getting our various pieces of equipment all cleaned up and checked out. We’re a few weeks behind normal ripening time, and look to be fully into harvest by the end of September.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
JAMIE: We see 4 or 5 different Zinfandel bottlings each year, all from the Dry Creek Valley. The wine featured today is our blend of a few different vineyards from within the region that we hope reflects the overall terroir or character of the Dry Creek Valley. With 10% Petite Sirah and 6% Carignane, this wine has a little more depth, backbone, and complexity than many Zins today, even those from the usually more balanced Dry Creek Valley.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
JAMIE: I love to pair this wine with a second glass of it… It’s delicious on it’s own, but with the blending grapes in there, it really shines with layered foods. Braised dishes, ratatouille, or lasagna.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
JAMIE: I like to go mushroom hunting (for chanterelles and porcini), even though as a teenager I accidentally picked and ate Death Cap mushrooms.
RED: What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
JAMIE: Zinfandel is the wine I seem to open the most often of our own, but I also drink a lot of Rhone wines.
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
JAMIE: So many people look for the “best” wine. I always ask them “best for what?” Every wine has a place and time for appreciating (unless it just is a wine that really sucks…), and it’s more important for people to figure out what types of wine they like, and why, than what others think is the best. Trust your own palate rather than what a critic or others say.
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!
JAMIE: Thanks for having me, and for appreciating and featuring our wines!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Peterson Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
Wine Spies Winery Check:
The location of the Peterson Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
About This Wine:
The subtle aromas of deep-seated fruit and earth belie the favors to come. The creamy rich mouthfeel is loaded with spicy blackberry, candied strawberry, vanillin oak and a touch of earth. Full-bodied, smooth and balanced, this Zin offers integrated oak, tannins and fruit, creating a versatile, food-friendly wine that can also be enjoyed just by itself.
About The Vineyards:
West Vineyard: The West Vineyard sites a little above the valley foor on the benchland of Dry Creek Valley. The soil at the West Vineyard has a larger percentage of clay and gravel resulting in lower yields of intensely favored and balanced fruit.
Funsten Vineyard: The Funsten Vineyard sits a little above the valley foor on the benchland of Dry Creek Valley. The soil also has a larger percentage of clay and gravel resulting in lower yields of intensely favored and balanced fruit.
Bradford Mountain Estate Vineyard: The vineyard is located just south of Bradford Peak at 1,000 ft. elevation with the perfect southwest exposure. Well-drained, red-clay soil, combined with sunny days and cool nights produce small, intensely favored grapes with a higher acidity
and a lower pH than valley fruit.
Fred’s (Peterson) Vintaged View:
Though all of our Zinfandels are made from Dry Creek Valley grapes, our Dry Creek blend, as we refer to it, is a wine that we hope refects the overall Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel terroir, as opposed to a single-vineyard character. It’s also the Zinfandel that contains the highest percentages of blending varietals to give the wine maximum spice and an intriguing multifaceted quality.
Our 2007 Dry Creek blend is a very classic, “blackberry pie” Zinfandel. 10% Petite Sirah and 6% Carignane gives the wine additional complexity and depth of favors. Accompanying the depth of fruit favors, you’ll fnd richness, complexity, spice, and earthiness to create a full favored yet food-friendly wine.
The ’07 growing season produced ripe, intense fruit. This fruitiness and intensity is refected in all of our 2007 wines. Enjoy!
About Peterson Winery:
We are located in the Dry Creek Valley, in the northwest region of Sonoma County. Peterson Winery’s new tasting room is now open for wine tasting and sales daily 11am-4:30pm. We often pour our wines at local tasting and charity events as well. Check for upcoming events on the News & Events page.
Our wines are also available for tasting at the “LOCALS” tasting room in Geyserville. See tastelocalwines.com for directions and details. Click on the “Find Us” link for a map to the winery and to LOCALS in Geyserville.
If you have any questions about Peterson Winery or our wines, send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll respond as soon as we can.
We can’t tell our whole story here, but we hope that by looking at a few photos and reading a bit more about us, you’ll find out who we are and why we love to make great wines.
About The Winemaker:
Jamie Peterson – It’s not by coincidence that I’m the winemaker at Peterson Winery. I’ve been helping my father at the winery for the past ten years, back to the days of labeling the bottles by hand. I worked two harvests here at the winery, in 2000 and 2001, and the 2001 harvests Down Under in Australia at Lowe Family Winery, and then in New Zealand, at Ngatarawa Winery. With this solid base of experience, much to my excitement I was given the opportunity of taking over winemaking duties in June 2002, and have been loving it ever since.
Overseeing the quality of the wine from when the grapes come in all the way through to the bottle is my main responsibility and priority. Since it’s just my father and I, this keeps me pretty busy, but when I’m not checking up on barrels or wrestling with the bottling equipment, you can often find me at one the numerous tasting events we attend, whether it is for charity or for the love of wine. In my free time, I’ve started a Peterson Winery softball team with my friends here in Healdsburg. I also enjoy cooking, foraging for local culinary mushrooms, reading, and am a Giants baseball fan. Continuing winemaking tradition of Zero Manipulation.
Composition: 84% Zinfandel, 10% Petite Sirah, 6% Carignane
Appellation: West Vineyard, Funsten Vineyard, Bradford Mountain Vineyard; Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County
Barrel Aging: 20 months
Type of Oak: 80% 4-7 year old mixed neutral oak barrels, 10% new Hungarian oak barrels & 10% new American oak barrels
Bottling Date: May 15, 2009
Production: 850 cases
Release Date: May 2010