Mano-a-Mano: The Archies Edition   Leave a comment

Betty or Veronica.  You Must Choose One.  So different.  So beautiful.  They are from the same neighborhood.  They go to the same school.  They hang out with Archie, Reggie and Jughead.  Seriously, Jughead?  What kind of name is that?  Back to the girls– you must choose one.  Perhaps…

In this Edition of Mano-a-Mano we look at two distinct wines from virtually the same place– Dry Creek Valley.  DCV is known for Zinfandel.  But there are also Pinot practitioners there.   We have reviewed wines from today’s two producers in the past– Kokomo Winery and Gustafson Family Winery. 

Located in a big barn like warehouse on the Eastern side of the valley, Kokomo produces some sick juice, including Pinot Noir from a variety of clones.  This is a young winery with some good vintages under its belt and more to come.  In the early years (back in 2006), winemaker & proprietor, Erik Miller and assistant winemaker, Josh Bartels, two young dudes from Indiana, traded in the Heartland for some West Coast action.   I first met Erik on a trip through the area with my father in 2008.  From the get-go, Erik’s infectious enthusiasm captured my attention.  Then there were his wines.  Of their place and with a charisma all their own.  Erik kept himself busy developing relationships with local growers and was able to select specific sections of vineyards for his earlier harvests before the remainder of the plot was sold off to larger producers.  This resulted in wines that were nicely concentrated and balanced by tannin and a skillful use of acid.  The time spent in the vineyard pays off.  One of Erik’s growers, and now partner, is Randy Peters.  The Pinot coming out of these Peters’ vineyards just keeps getting better and better. 

On the western side of the valley, actually just outside the valley , but still within the DCV appellation, and overlooking Lake Sonoma, you will find Gustafson.   The property was first spotted by owner Dan Gustafson in 2002, and further expanded to 247 acres with the purchase of an adjacent property in 2006.  Vineyard plantings are now complete at 20 acres; the balance of the land will remain as an ecological preserve which smacks of an organic approach that can only benefit the wine.  The original property, an old sheep ranch, at an elevation of 1800 feet above sea level, has rich, red volcanic soil reputed for producing superb wine grapes.  Especially the reds.  One taste of their Syrah based rose last year sold me immediately.  It is hands down the best rose I have had from DCV.  And at $16, delivered amazing value.  Another young winemaker, Gustafson’s Emmett Reed, is bringing his own brand of winemaking alchemy creating wines of distinction.

Kokomo Pinot Noir Peter’s Vineyard Gopher Hill 2009.  Think elegant evening gown, a little bit of that Funky Music, playing in the background.  Red fruit and acidity for structure.  Erik Miller is proud of not being a one trick pony in his winemaking– not getting complacent chasing after Parker Points.  But are we are seeing development of a house style here?  Lip smacking deliciousness left me looking for more.  Rated ***

Gustafson Dry Creek Mountain Vineyard Estate Zinfandel 2007.  This blew out some notes of black licorice and earth.  Dark fruit– not your typical Zin.  Despite this, the wine is not over-extracted.  It had a richness that simply lingered on the palate.  A great finish.  Rated ***1/2

Must you choose one?  If you’re a Sybarite you can have them both.  If you’re Archie, you may be able to have them both!  Then again, hell hath no fury…

Posted January 12, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in Mano-a-Mano

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