Monday, March 20, 2017

Dry Creek Vineyard Trio Delivers Taste And Value

Three new releases from one of our favorite Sonoma producers score high in QPR. For the uninitiated, this is Quality Price Ratio – or maybe the wine lover’s Holy Grail.

An Intro To QPR

One of the most important concepts in wine buying, at least according to the tasting team at Vino-Sphere, is QPR. Quality Price Ratio basically is your scorecard as to whether you made a good purchase or a bad one.

A good Oregon Pinot Gris for which you pay $15 may have higher QPR than a 90+ rated single vineyard Cab from Paso Robles – if you paid $200 for it. It boils down to how much wine enjoyment you are getting for your dollar.

You might pay $35 for  two bottles of wine – one might have a tremendous QPR, and the other rock bottom. Which brings me to the focus for today – a winery that is always coming through with wines that ring the bell with great QPR: Dry Creek Vineyard.

Enter The Mariner

The Mariner is a high-end Meritage (Bordeaux-style blend) from Dry Creek Vineyard. Dry Creek Vineyard is located in Dry Creek Valley, a magical sub-region of Sonoma in California. At $45 this is a premium bottle for which you might expect to pay double if it came from Napa. The Mariner rocks a great QPR!

The blend for the 2013 vintage is 54% cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, 8% Malbec and 4% Cabernet Franc. These are the five “noble” Bordeaux varieties. It delivers velvety flavors of blueberry, dark fruit and some vanilla. It is aged 20 months in French and Hungarian oak, adding to the complexity.

I recently organized a Beer versus Wine social event and The 2013 Mariner sailed to the rescue. Attendees could sample The Mariner for a small (or large) donation to help prevent child abuse. One sip and donations were flowing like the incoming tide. Not only is that QPR, but GBC (giving back to the community)!

A “Zinful” Pair

Zinfandel is a signature grape in Dry Creek Valley, and Dry Creek Vineyard produces some standout bottles. We recently sampled their 2014 Old Vine Zinfandel and the 2015 Heritage Vines Zinfandel.
Old Vine Zinfandel is an uncommon treat. While the grocery stores may be flooded with California Zin, those made from old vines are on another level in terms of flavor, complexity and winemaker craft. The DCV Old Vine Zinfandel is made with vines that average 95 years in age with some more than 110 years old. As the vines grow, they produce fewer grapes, but each grape is exploding with concentrated flavor.

The OVZ has bold berry and plum flavors and an aroma that says “this is going to be good” even before the first sip. This wine has aging potential, but is ready to provide a pleasurable experience right now. Look for the spicy notes that are a hallmark for these old vines. This is a solid value at $32.

DCV’s 2015 Heritage Vines Zinfandel is a leader in QPR with a retail price of just $22. Dry Creek Vineyard has been an innovator in Zinfandel production including their heritage vines project. Pre-Prohibition era vineyard cuttings were grafted onto pest-resistant rootstock starting in 1982. The result is “young vine” wine with “old vine” characteristics.

We appreciate the winegrowing craft that was used. Most important to us, though, is that this is an amazingly delicious wine at a shockingly good price. Raspberries, cherries, cocoa all dance in this rich, smooth wine. Heritage Vines Zinfandel includes 20% Petite Sirah and 1% Carignane, adding to the allure.

Full disclosure: These wines were received as marketing samples.

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