Thursday, December 9, 2021

Dry Creek Vineyard The Mariner and Old Vines Zinfandel Great Picks For Holiday Gifting

Dry Creek Mariner and OVZReady for the holidays? These two bottles from Sonoma will help you celebrate.

Perfect Picks

I recently got an email from a friend trying to pick my brain on what wines to give as gifts. It got me thinking about what makes for a great holiday wine gift. After sampling two new releases from Dry Creek Vineyard, I think I have my answer.

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We opened up the 2018 The Mariner and the 2019 Old Vine Zinfandel. The winery is located in Dry Creek Valley, one of our favorite AVAs in California’s famed Sonoma wine country. Each bottle has just what it takes to fill Santa’s stocking or to present to anyone planning on ringing in the new year.

The Mariner has long been our favorite red blend. It is a Meritage, which is America’s answer to Bordeaux’s famed blends. It must include two of the “noble” Bordeaux grapes and no grape can exceed 90%. It usually applies to a winery’s top blend.

The blend for the 2018 version of The Mariner (it changes slightly each year) is 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 8% Malbec, 8% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Franc. It is aptly named because the winemaker must navigate his way through the vintage. We’re happy to say winemaker Tim Bell navigated the choppy seas without crashing on the rocks.

Lamb chops and 2019 DCV Old Vines Zin

Two Great Gifting Recommendations

The Mariner opens with aromas of cranberry and black cherry. The first sip has a bit of heat even though this is 13.9% ABV, less than many “big” California reds. Upon sipping the aggressive initial impression faded into a delightfully smooth texture and dark fruit.

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One of the reasons we dub this a great gifting wine is that it has multiple layers that will delight savvy wine lovers. It has savory notes as well as cocoa and white pepper. The finish displays vanilla and a hint of violet. Part of the complexity is due to the aging for 18 months in French and Hungarian oak, 44% new. The cooler harvest allowed additional hang time for the grapes to develop their wonderful character. The Mariner is priced at $50.

I was quite anxious to open and try the 2019 Old Vine Zin, since we just love OVZ. My wife had me hold my horses until the next night so that we could pair it with some nicely grilled herbed lamb chops.

Old Vine Zin And Lamb Chops

This is a big, rich wine that benefits from being paired with a robust steak, or as we found, some perfect lamb chops. The fatty nature of the meat tames the magnitude of the wine, which clocks in at 14.5% ABV. Dry Creek Vineyard knows their grapes and the addition of 19% Petite Sirah and 3% Carignane adds to the allure.

The OVZ is aged for 15 months in French, Hungarian, and American oak, 22% new. The tannins give nice structure, but the overall texture is rounded. There are lush tones of black cherry, espresso, and cedar.

The vines for this bottling average more than 100 years old and some are nearly 140 years old. As the vines age, their yield goes down, but each grape is a masterpiece of concentrated flavor. This is an ideal gift for your friends who like to grill or enjoy a hearty steak. At $38 SRP, you may consider picking up a couple of bottles.

I’m pleased to see that Dry Creek Vineyard wines are widely available, but if you can’t find these bottles in your local wine shop, they are available for purchase online.

Full disclosure: These wines were received as a marketing sample.

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