Wine reviews: Dry Creek Vineyard 2013 Sauvignon Blanc & 2013 Dry Chenin Blanc

Dry Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc

Up the road from where I live in California is a winery that continues to impress, vintage after vintage: Dry Creek Vineyard. I did a search on my website and I’ve written about them seven times in the past eight years. That’s a lot, considering the number of wineries on this earth I could be writing about. But I keep going back to them simply because their value remains outstanding. Family-owned and -operated, Dry Creek Vineyard was founded in 1972. Founder David Stare bravely hung his hat on California Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc — a not-so-glamorous grape originally from the Loire Valley (more about Chenin Blanc) — early on and embraced both grape varieties with a burly bear hug. At the time, other wineries in the area looked at him kinda funny but he soldiered on. David, a graduate of MIT, worked for railroads before he founded the winery in Dry Creek — where the winery stand today was nothing but plum (or “prunes”) orchards. Forty-two years later, the family owns 185 acres of grapevines and his daughter, Kim, heads up the company as President.

Read more: Two affordable wines: Dry Creek Vineyard 2013 Sauvignon Blanc & 2013 Dry Chenin Blanc

Wine review: Dry Creek Vineyards 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Dry Creek Valley

The 2010 vintage in Sonoma County was super cool. And I don’t mean it wore awesome shades and sported the latest fashions — but cold like in France’s Bordeaux region. The heat index just didn’t quite get high enough to ripen grapes to the point of super fruitiness with floral aromatics (like Dry Creek Vineyards’ 2007 SB). So if you like New Zealand style Sauv Blancs (like me) then you’re in heaven with the 2010 wines (read more about Sauvignon Blanc, including how to pronounce it). And you’ll also have something to look forward to in the 2011 vintage, which had similar weather in Sonoma County.

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Dry Creek Vineyards 2007 Sauvignon Blanc

Dry Creek Vineyards also labels this Fumé Blanc, another name for sauvignon blanc, only fancier. In the ’60’s, the Mondavis borrowed the fume (French for “smoked”) moniker from the French Loire Valley sauvignon blanc called Pouilly Fume.

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Dry Creek Vineyard 2008 Wilson Ranch Dry Chenin Blanc

This family-owned California winery has been making dry chenin blanc since 1972, sourcing their grapes from the same family-owned vineyard south of Sacramento. They even tell you up front on the label how sweet it is. It isn’t.

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Dry Creek Vineyards 2007 Sauvignon Blanc

Also labeled Fume Blanc, it denotes the same grape. More elegant and supple than many of its brethren, this sauvignon blanc refreshingly lacks the grassy, saliva-producing tartness of others. I could drink this smooth, melon and soft citrus sipper all day long. And have. Mouth-filling gulps of kiwi fruit, lime and nectarine flow into a long-lasting, mellow finish. Good

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Dry Creek Vineyard 2002 Meritage (California)

Velvety and full of roasted black cherries with a touch of oak. 3.5 stars out of 5. Sweetness=1 out of 10 (dry to sweet). $28

Dry Creek Vineyard 2005 Chenin Blanc Dry Creek

Chenin Blanc is a grape from the Loire Valley region of France, which is normally made in a sweeter style. California’s Dry Creek labels this bottle “dry” so you’ll know it’s not loaded with sugar. Tart green apple, lemon and wet slate mix and bathe the tongue in some fun. It’s full-bodied enough to please Chardonnay drinkers.3.5 stars out

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Chenin Blanc wine: The new little black dress

Chenin Blanc wine from dry creek vineyards

Mark my words – Chenin Blanc is the new little black dress. Comfortable, sleek, versatile and sophisticated, this white grape from France is making a new entrance to the big world of wine lovers. Thank the younger generation of drinkers who crave the unique, the little-known yet delicious in their beverages. But everyone wins. Chenin kicks boring ‘ole Chardonnay in just about every way, so welcome it into your world and onto your table.

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Wine review: Clarksburg Wine Company Chenin Blancs

Clarksburg Wine Company Chenin Viognier

This is a tale of three wine stories — an up-and-coming California wine appellation, a growing business model in the wine biz, and an under-appreciated-yet-slowly-gaining-a-rep grape, Chenin Blanc. This wine review highlights all three in one, 5-minute post. Who says service is dead? The Clarksburg appellation in northeast California enfolds 59,000 acres of warm-climate land, encompassing Sacramento and bordering on the Sacramento River. About 10,000 acres of heat-loving grapevines are planted here but it’s not particularly recognized as an appellation. This is mostly because the majority of the fruit is sent outside the area for crushing not to mention the best grapes grown here remain a mystery to the majority of wine drinkers — Chenin Blanc and Petite Sirah. Clarksburg Wine Company hopes to change that. Naming their wine label after an unknown region borders on ballsy but they’re also exploring a relatively new business model — “custom crush”. Imagine calling up a winemaker and asking them to make a wine specifically to your tastes? “I’d like it to taste slightly sweet but not syrupy; high acid yet full-bodied”… that’s what custom crush companies do for you (as well as commercial entities). So, in addition to making wine under the Clarksburg Wine Company label they also make wine for others. Something for everyone, you might say.

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The best red, white and rose wines I've tasted in the past six months

Although I taste wines (and often drink!) virtually everyday, most don’t land on the site to bask in the glory of a good wine review. Maybe they’re too expensive for the quality, or taste nothing like the grape listed on the label, or maybe they’re just plain plonk and don’t deserve the attention. Occasionally, despite all the momentous efforts of the winery (’cause why would they want their wine to be crappy?), the bottle is cooked or corked… always a tragedy. The following six wines ranging from $12 to $32 have left an indelible mark on my memory and hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I did.

Read more: The best red, white and rose wines I’ve tasted in the past six months