Let's get the admissions out of the way first. I'm a big fan of Hugh Chappelle, the winemaker at Quivira Vineyards. I don't think Doug Allan the Brand Manager for the estate was aware of that when we first made contact to request a visit. Big thanks to Doug for setting up the interview with Hugh, allowing us to learn more about the wines made at Quivira. Having enjoyed so many wonderful cool climate West Sonoma County Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that Hugh has made at other properties, I was excited to discover what he was up to in Dry Creek Valley.
Sixteen miles long and two miles wide, Dry Creek Valley is home to a large concentration of old vine Zinfandel vineyards. That's what originally brought us to the area as we are ramping up for the upcoming Zinfandel Experience 2016 coming to San Francisco. Fortunately for us Hugh makes more than just Zinfandel. We covered a variety of topics as we tasted through a number of Quivira Estate grown wines.
Sauvignon Blanc is the signature grape of Dry Creek Valley and currently Sauvignon Blanc is the most planted white grape in the valley. Quivira's Fig Tree Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc is all estate fruit with low sulfide input, wild yeast driven, with phase picked grapes that are Demeter Certified. In the interview Hugh reveals he drinks more Sauvignon Blanc than anything else and once you try theirs it's easy to see why. The Quivira Estate Vineyards are Demeter Certified Biodynamic and Organic but they don't fly that flag very high. The owners Peter and Terry Kight seem devoted to sustainable farming, comfortable with letting the wines speak for themselves, without leaning on certifications to sell their products.
It was a very rainy day in December, so instead of walking through the vineyards we conducted the first part of the interview in the production area where the sound quality was not that great, but the content is awesome. It's a working winery so there's lots of background noise we were unable to filter out. Hugh enjoys working with smaller family run wineries where he "can taste every barrel and every vat". The highlight for me was tasting the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc out of Acacia barrels. Whether you're a novice or a wine geek there's something for everyone in this podcast. Thanks to Hugh and his crew for making this podcast possible.
The 2014 Quivira Rose is 62% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre, 8% Counoise. This may be the only Demeter certified rose in California. The grapes are farmed specifically for Rose i.e. - zero saignée. Treated like white wine the grapes are given a cold soak and pressed before fermenting. Aromas of strawberries and cranberries are echoed on the palate as well. It's light bodied, clean, crisp and dry. $22 / 13.3 abv / 900 cases
The 2014 Fig Tree Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc is 100% Sauvignon Blanc. The vineyard is situated next to the intersection of Dry Creek River and Wine Creek and gets its name from an old fig tree that sits on the estate. Phase picked and 70% fermented in stainless steel, 30% in a mix of Acacia and French oak. The aromatics of lemon, lime zest, fresh cut grass, melon and tropical fruit jump out of the glass. As fantastic as the nose is, where this Sauvignon Blanc departs from the pack is in its texture. In the mouth it's medium bodied, minus the acidic bite that you sometimes get with less well made Sauvignon Blanc. It's rich and round with flavors of citrus and tropical fruit with just the right amount of acidity. Is there a hint of fig in there? With the organic farming, phase picking and multi layered barreling program, a lot of care goes into crafting this wine. It's an outstanding effort. $24 / 13.5% abv / 2,384 cases
The 2013 Grenache is 100% Grenache and is grown on the estate. The grapes were picked in three passes and fermented with native yeast, using 15 - 20 percent whole cluster, then aged 6 to 9 months in 60 to 130 gallon barrels. Once the blends are assembled the wine is moved into 600 and 900 gallon foudre to finish maturing. This is a Grenache made by a former Pinot Noir winemaker so Hugh's style is readily apparent in this offering. In the glass you'll find aromas of strawberry and red cherries with hints of lavender. On the palate the wine is full bodied, fresh and vibrant, showing beautiful balance and texture, with lovely spice notes on the finish. $32 / 14.7 abv / 744 cases
The 2013 Black Boar Zinfandel is 83% Zinfandel, 12% Petite Sirah, 5% Carignan. The grapes are sourced from ridge top vineyards, Anderson Ranch in the Lytton Springs area, Goat Trek Ranch and Wine Creek Ranch on the valley floor. Opaque with aromas of black fruit. licorice and spice. On the palate it's full bodied, concentrated and richly styled. Black berry and black cherry in the fore with subtle hints of spice in the background. If you're a big Zinfandel lover you'll want round up a few bottles. Drinking well now, but this one is age worthy. It's already sold out at the winery but you can use wine-searcher.com to find a source. $38 / 14.8% abv / 830 cases
Thanks for listening and enjoy the podcast. Cheers!