Christopher Creek Winery
California: Dry Creek Valley (Sonoma)
What we say
If you are visiting us for the first time, Welcome! The Wine Spies feature one exceptional wine each day – and we only bring you wines that we ourselves seek out and love. Always, the wines are great. Sometimes greater than great, as is the case with today’s wine from Christopher Creek Winery
Mission Codename: The Limerick Revisited
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Determine if Agent Red has been compromised by folks at Christopher Creek
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Christopher Creek Winery
Wine Subject: 2004 Zinfandel
Winemaker: Chris Russi
Earlier this year, Agent Red found an exceptional Petite Sirah from Christopher Creek Winery. Ever since, he’s been walking around HQ humming the tune that accompanies the limerick he claimed he wrote for that mission… Has Agent Red been brainwashed?
Now onto the wine… Zinfandel is one of the favorite grape varietals, and for good reason, so many great California wines are made from this varietal. Related to the Italian Primitivo grape and 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.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Thick inky dark purple in color with purple and brick edges and slow thick legs that slowly descend down the side of the glass.
Smell – Pronounced aromas of dark fruit including black currents, licorice (fresh anisette) pepper and oak.
Feel – Dry and rich and full-bodied, the tannins and acidity blend to give this wine a very interesting sandy texture and mouth feel.
Taste – Layered flavors of dark fruit, ripe plum, oak and pepper that sweetens slightly as it opens up.
Finish – This wine finishes very nicely, fading with hints of its pepper, fruit and oak.
Conclusion – If you are a fan of Zinfandel, you will love this wine. The nose on this wine begs to be explored and evolves as it interacts with the air. This is a quintessential Zin, big, bold and robust; and reminds us why Zins are such crowd pleaser wines.
As mentioned in the backgrounder, HQ had become concerned that Agent Red had been brainwashed, or otherwise compromised. Earlier this year, Red was sent on a mission, the wine was great, but he returned to our Top Secret Tasting Operations Center humming a some and repeating the words to a limerick.
Agent Sparkle was especially concerned (not surprising). This limerick seemed to be consuming him. HQ asked me to investigate and to make sure I didn’t fall under the same spell as red.
I decided the best way to gather intel was to perform an undercover tasting. Upon arriving at tasting room in Healdsburg, I was greeted by Chris Russi, the winemaker, and Fred Wasserman, the owner, who immediately poured me a taste of each of the wines. After tasting the flight, I can tell you, the only thing that is making red hum the limerick is the fantastic wine.
Here is the original limerick. If you hear someone repeating it over and over, you’ll know they’ve tasting these great wines.
There was a young fella named Chris
whose grand-uncle once said, “Drink this”
T’was a libation so fine
that his heart it did shine
and Chris said “Henceforth, I shall make wine!”
His wine journey did start
and he followed his heart
to a school of high enophile learning
where he did seek, interest starting to peak,
to satisfy wine-knowledge yearning
Pure wisdom he sought
At U.C. Davis was taught
Where its classrooms stimulated his thought
The payoff of his wager
was his double wine major
Wine erudition his money had bought
Now young Chris yearned for more –
from his toes to his core
where the vineyards called out to his soul,
“Come NOW Chris, grab your shears and let’s grow!”
Never one to feel bleak
keeping up his hot streak
Chris began his intense wine career
Pondering wineries tiny and those massive-big
he landed at wine-giant, Guyser Peak
Wines and vines he now knew
and Chris had even grander ambition
After one short audition he secured the position
of Christopher Creek’s main wine magician
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of Christopher Creek’s fabled Limerick Lane vineyard can be seen in satellite photo.
What the winery says
Check out The Wine Spies on Wine Library TV
Awards & Accolades:
Silver Medal — Tasters Guild International, May 2006
Silver Medal — San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, January 2006
About This Wine:
The 2004 Dry Creek Zinfandel is the seventh vintage for Christopher Creek Winery. We produced this wine by fermenting the grapes in small open top tanks with two punch downs daily to every “pump over.” After two weeks, the wine was transferred to a mixture of 65% American oak and 35% French oak barrels (25% of the barrels were new oak). Classical Dry Creek Zin in style, the wine exhibits a medium-dark ruby hue, with forward strawberry and raspberry jammy fruit, hints of vanilla, white pepper, spice and a mouth feel that lingers. While still quite young, this intense, perfectly balanced and bright wine is remarkably approachable with medium tannins and an aging potential of about 3-to-4 years. The wine pairs wonderfully with risotto, pasta, turkey, duck, lamb or chicken.
About Christopher Creek Winery:
Nestled in the rolling hills of the Northern part of the Russian River Appellation near Healdsburg, California, is where you will find Christopher Creek Winery.
We’re a small, family owned winery with a history of producing award-winning, estate bottled and hand crafted wines. We produce 4500 cases annually of Petite Sirah, Reserve Syrah, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Zinfandel and Viognier. Our family vineyards consist of Petite Sirah, Syrah and Cabernet.
Our Growing History
In addition to growing grapes, we have been farming oranges and olives in the Central Valley of California for the past 30 years. We currently live on a Cabernet vineyard in Dry Creek Valley.
Growing quality grapes is the primary focus in developing great wines. As we have been farming for many years, we appreciate the fine balance between agricultural practices and the quality of the grape. So does our winemaker, Chris Russi, who previously worked at Geyser Peak Winery in Geyserville, California. He received his degree in Viticulture and Enology from the University of California, Davis, California.
With the growing interest in the Rhone style wines, Petite Sirah, Viognier and Syrah, Christopher Creek Winery offers wines produced from older as well as newer vines. Our vineyard is located in the Northeastern part of the Russian River Appellation, where the climate is warmer. We produce some of the best Syrah and Petite Sirah in the area.
Our 2005 Russian River Estate Bottled Syrah is a “Best of Class-Gold Medal Winner” and our 2004 Dry Creek “Finlay’s Vineyard” Cabernet is a Gold and Silver Medal Winner. Zinfandels produced by Christopher Creek are consistently “Best of Class,” “Best of Show,” Gold and Silver Medal Winners. Our Petite Sirahs are legendary winners with over 40 Medals and “Best of Class-Gold Medals” during the past ten years. In addition to the many medals our wines have been awarded, Christopher Creek Winery has also been mentioned in recent print and online articles.
Our Tasting Room is open daily, 11 am to 5 pm and by appointment. Visit our winery, meet with us and our Tasting Room staff.
Harvested: September 2004
Released: January 2006
Yield: 3.0 tons/acre
Aged: French and American oak barrels
Production: 444 cases produced