Mead On Wine
Last Week99 Indexsubscribearchive

© 1999 JDM Enterprises
All Rights Reserved


by Jerry D. Mead

The first of the new wave of wineries established in Sonoma County in the 70s, Dry Creek Vineyards has a real track record for Fume Blanc and the no longer fashionable but always delicious Chenin Blanc.

    The latest Fumes are some of the best ever. The new Zinfandels are above average to stellar.     Dry Creek wines have broad national distribution and you can contact the winery for additional information on wines or arranging visits at (707) 433-1000 or e-mail:

    Dry Creek 1998 "Clarksburg" Chenin Blanc ($8.75) This is the one non-Sonoma wine, which makes sense because the "Clarksburg" area in California's Delta region is famous for this variety. Melon, a little green apple, tart-sweet and an overall perception that is basically dry. Think of it as a poor man's Chardonnay, with no oak flavoring. Drink it with a grilled chicken breast or a Dungeness crab. Rating: 88/88

    Dry Creek 1998 "DCV3" Fume Blanc ($16) A throwback wine! Like the very aggressively herbaceous Dry Creek Fumes of old and a style that is becoming once again fashionable (think New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs). Very grassy, with gooseberry, kiwi and grapefruit flavors. A tart, crisp finish that will work perfectly with oysters on the half shell, or fishes in lemony sauces. Rating: 96/84

    Dry Creek 1997 "Reserve" Fume Blanc ($15.75) The Fume for wood lovers and fans of Chardonnay who think they don't like Fume. Toasty, smoky, barrel-fermented, oak-extracted style...but as attractive and forward as the wood characteristics are they do not overpower the intense Sauvignon Blanc varietal character. Moderate grassiness, with grapefruit flavors and oak vanillin. Rating: 95/88

    Dry Creek 1998 "Sonoma-Barrel Fermented" Chardonnay ($15) Not nearly as much wood presence as the name might lead you to expect. Tart apple and melon fruit with some very delicate butterscotch after-flavors. Rating: 87/84

    Dry Creek 1997 "Reserve" Chardonnay ($22) Very similar to the "barrel fermented" version, but with a bit more wood, some smoky notes and a little lime citrus. Rating: 88/84

    Dry Creek 1997 "Sonoma Old Vines" Zinfandel ($18) Wow! Ripe plum and berry; very concentrated and intense; extremely ripe yet avoiding overripeness; a real lip-smacker. Fans of really big Zins are going to love it. Rating: 96/89

    Dry Creek 1997 "Dry Creek Valley-Late Harvest" Zinfandel ($20) I never know what to do with these wines. They're too sweet (3 percent residual sugar) for most foods. They're not really sweet enough for dessert. More berries and plums, but leaning to prunes and raisins. A well made example of the style for those who like it, I'd suggest serving it at the end of a meal with Roquefort or Gorgonzola. Advice to the winemaker: Next time pick the grapes a week earlier and make "real" red wine. Rating: 86/84


    Dry Creek 1998 "Sonoma" Fume Blanc ($11.75) A classic, middle-of-the-road style Fume. Grassy, without being aggressively herbaceous, with grapefruit and lime citrus notes and a dry, but not austere, perception. A really fine companion to just about anything coming from ocean, lake or stream and will work with Asian cuisines. Rating: 90/90


    Dry Creek 1997 "Sonoma-Heritage Clone" Zinfandel ($15) A beautifully balanced, claret-style Zinfandel. Mouthfilling ripe berry flavors that go on an on, just a smidgen of oak, and substantial but inoffensive tannins. The kind of Zin that begs the second glass, will be great with summer cook-outs and that will really shine with grilled lamb and garlic. Case purchases highly recommended. Rating: 93/90



  There's something about the Santa Cruz Mountains that seems to inspire eccentricity. It certainly happened to Randall Grahm (though there are rumors he was a little crazy prior to his arrival in Santa Cruz) at Bonny Doon Winery, and David Bruce, especially in his early days as a Santa Cruz winemaker gave us some pretty odd stuff, amidst, admittedly, many truly great wines.

    Ken Burnap of Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards was relatively normal in his previous lives as contractor and restaurateur. But Ken has been just a little "different" since first falling in love with his first vintage (1975) of Santa Cruz Mountain Pinot Noir.

    Never mind that the 1975 SCMV Pinot was one of the greatest Pinots ever made in this state, a wine that is amazingly (for Pinot Noir) still alive and well 25 years later...the yields from his scraggly, high-elevation, dry-farmed vineyard do not provide anything like commercial quantities of fruit.

    And how crazy to make massive red wines that need to be aged, give them that needed age and still charge less than most comparable wines command? What kind of deranged person would be just releasing a 1994 red for less than $20 and not calling it "Reserve"?

    You can contact the Santa Cruz asylum, er ah winery, at (831) 426-6209 or e-mail:

    Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard 1997 "Paso Robles" Syrah ($19) Burnap's first ever Syrah and he aced it first time out. Ripe plum and boysenberry fruit; juicy, intense and concentrated. Substantial, but very round, drinkable and friendly. A delicious red wine. Rating: 95/90

    Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard 1994 "Bates-Santa Cruz" Cabernet Sauvignon ($19) Really big, really bold, and even with six years already on it, will cellar nicely for another 20 years (but you can enjoy it now!). Intense blackberry and cassis fruit, with earthy, woody, tobacco-leaf complexity. A great Cabernet and a very great value. Rating: 96/94    

Subscription Information

Wines are scored using a unique 100 point system. First number rates quality; second number rates value.

© 1999 JDM Enterprises. All Rights Reserved
The Mead On Wine WebSite is designed, maintained and hosted by Wines on the Internet.