Sunday, September 12, 2010

Current releases: Quivira Winery

Last month Pete Kight, owner of Quivira Winery in the Dry Creek Valley, hosted a series of tastings while on a road show promoting Quivira's latest releases.  Though these tastings are one of the toughest analytical environments in which to appreciate the virtues and flaws of a wine, it was a great chance to learn about this biodynamic vineyard and Kight's intentions for it.

He was kind enough to sit down for a meaty conversation/interview (which will be covered in a future piece), so instead of belaboring the context here, we'll focus on the wines.  (More on the vineyard, biodynamics, and the approach to winemaking in a future piece.)

Bottom Line: All of these wines exude a common character.  No question it's Dry Creek Valley shining through, but none moreso than the Zin (go straight to the bottom of this article for the review).  For interesting, provoking drinking, the Grenache wins.  And the Petite Sirah is as concentrated and true as they come.  Overall these wines are priced between $5 and $10 more than they ought to be, except for the Zin which, at $20, is an authentic representation of what the Dry Creek Valley is - and is capable of.

The Rest Of The Story:  Quivira is perhaps best known for its Sauvignon Blanc, which is unique indeed.  But the reds are more interesting, pleasurable, and broadly appealing.  Good things are happening at this winery.  Stay tuned.

2009 Sauvignon Blanc Fig Tree Vineyard - Beautiful, fragrant nose.  Intense aromatics with layers of sweet fruit.  Palate is sharp, acidic, yet somehow endearing and balanced.  No malo and it shows.  Long, interesting finish. Revisited this wine after it had a chance to breathe and loose some of its chill.  Result?  The rating went from a 3.5 to a 4.5.  Closer to room temp it softens, opens, and exposes layers of lovely, delicate (but obvious) complexity.  Acids take a back seat to the fruit and beauty. Lingering and profound - and, yes, we're talking about a California Sauvignon Blanc here.  Something of a wine geek's wine, but fantastic. $18



2007 Mourvedre Wine Creek Ranch - Light bodied in the glass - very translucent.  Bright, fast nose with as much dirt scents as fruit.  Palate tastes original, genuine, authentic, like it's speaking to you about itself and comfortable with what it is.  Ample acids and French styling, yet persistently Dry Creek Valley.  Unfortunately overpriced.  Though Pete says this is their most complex, sophisticated wine, we didn't get that.  Maybe after some hours breathing, but in this context it was closed and obtuse. $32



2008 Grenache Wine Creek Ranch -  Shimmery in light like the Mourvedre, but even lighter - surprising, given the powerhouse density the Zin and Petit Sirah have.  Same aromatic characteristics as the Mourvedre, too, but with a bit more fruit.  Smoke rolls over the tongue, but in a soft, sultry, interesting way.  Reminiscent of Anderson Valley Pinot in 08, but less smokey and more intriguing.  $26



2007 Petite Sirah Wine Creek Ranch - Dark and mysterious in the glass - the way it should be.  Elegant looking with long, skinny legs.  Complex, subtle nose gives a glimpse into this wine's promising future.  Absolutely faithful representation of both place and varietal.  Balanced, structured, and tight.  On the medium side of big and complex.  Surprisingly approachable, but would love to see what this turns in to in five, ten, or twenty years.  $26 - and worth it.



2007 Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley - We reviewed this Zin before the tasting and had a chance to really longer over it.  Power, finesse, excitement, comfort, and quality channeling the Dry Creek Valley. What a package. Every place has its taste and the Dry Creek Valley is no exception. Extracting the flavor of the place where a vine sits while not betraying the varietal's identity is a balance struck carefully by only the talented winemaker.  This wine is a terrific example of that particular tightrope walk.  Just as we found in the Gallo Frei Ranch Cab, the Dry Creek Valley characteristics channeled in this wine are sun-baked, dusty clay, dense evergreen herbs, deep, intense black fruit, and a comforting hug to the soul. Medium bodied and in harmony with its various components, this Zin brings back memories of mid-90s Geyserville. Exciting notes of big fruit, spicy oak, and heat make this a fun, almost irresistible wine.  It's not quite moving, but definitely heading in the right direction. And a respectable wine at this price point.  Revisiting the Zin at the tasting only reaffirmed original impressions, if not deepen them.  It is perhaps the best value in this line up.

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