Dry Creek Vineyard, the Tom Hanks of Sonoma County?

May 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

Dependable. Kind. Interesting, with a subtle edgy streak mostly kept under wraps. I usually want adventuresome wines that set me off kilter. Sometimes I don’t. That’s what Dry Creek Vineyard wines are for: when you want something very good but very consistent.


The ever elegant DCV Sauvignon Blanc

Ruffle feathers tomorrow. Today, settle in and settle down. Here’s my take on a benchmark-y, stable, classic line-up of wines from California that will break few-to-no balls, bones, habits,  relationships or banks.

Inman Family Wines, where eco-ethics and exceptional wine come together

July 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

Kathleen Inman makes singular Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay in Sonoma, California’s Russian River Valley. It’s singular because it’s balanced and actually expresses all the natural acidity and pure, unadorned flavors of the grapes and the land they grow in. This is the exception in Russian River, where more often than not the wines are high in alcohol with overripe fruit looking for a fight — lipstick-smeared pigs, all made up with nowhere to go.

As I write in my Portland Press Herald wine column this week, Inman is a respectful, humble woman, and she makes respectful wines. She’s also a committed environmentalist, and her entire winemaking process walks a deep eco-friendly path: no -cides (pesti-, fungi-, herbi-, etc.), no funny stuff; the winery is solar-powered and composts and recycles graywater and does 1,000 other things that are good and right to do. And Inman is convinced, rightly, that these practices make for better wine, by sustaining the health, vitality and distinctiveness of the land she loves.

Q: When is a Zinfandel more than a Zinfandel? A: in an Acorn Wines’ field blends

February 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

Today’s Portland Press Herald column attempts to convince of the glories of field blends. Acorn Winery in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley is producing great blends of all sorts of grapes, in vineyards that hold vines going back to 1890. All of their vineyards are “mixed sets” (that’s the English translation of the German/Austrian “gemischter satz”, because Austria is king of the field blend): lots of different grape varieties planted together in a single vineyard.

Field blends are wines made from all these different grapes, harvested, crushed, fermented and vinified together. Usual blends (for instance, in the southern Rhône or Bordeaux), called cuvées, mix grapes that are grown and harvested separately. With field blends, you get the call of the wild! Less control, more surprise, more life. The wines live. They can’t be pinpointed. They’re terrific, and will expand your ideas about what a wine actually is.

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