Quivira Vineyards & Winery represents Dry Creek Valley proudly
One change that’s gaining traction in the wine world, thankfully, is a move towards organic and biodynamic farming practices. Sometimes they go hand-in-hand, and at other times a producer picks the organic-only route and doesn’t necessarily go for the biodynamic side of things.
Organic wine, like most other fruits and vegetables, is made from grapes grown under the conditions generally regarded to be back-to-nature, eschewing chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.
The biodynamic approach takes things a step further. It means growing grapes and making wine based on the concept of looking at the vineyard as a whole – everything from the soil to the vines to the fertilizer to the other plants grown in the area. But it also encompasses the idea that growing grapes (and other crops) should be done in tune with the spiritual forces of the universe. That idea places emphasis on both plants and planets, and might be actualized by harvesting the grapes only under certain phases of the moon.
Quivira Vineyards and Winery in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley is biodynamic certified, and one of the producers leading the charge for these agricultural practices in Sonoma County. The wines they produce have a purity of fruit and a sense of place that those making artisan offerings strive for. I’ve been fond of their portfolio for a number of years now. They brought on Hugh Chappelle as winemaker about a year ago, and he’s poised to bring their wines to the next level. On a recent visit I sat with him and tasted through many of their current releases. They’re a delicious and impressive lot of wines. I’ll look at three of my favorites here.
The Quivira Vineyards 2010 Sauvignon Blanc was produced using fruit sourced at their home estate in Dry Creek Valley. This offering is fermented with native yeasts in stainless steel tanks and aged on the lees for roughly six months prior to bottling. About 3,000 cases of this wine are produced each year, and it has a suggested retail price of $18.
While many think of Quivira Vineyards as a red wine producer, the non-reds in their portfolio demand a look and a taste too; in particular the Fig Tree Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. Over the last three or so vintages this wine has really made its mark as one of the handful of best Sauvignon Blancs in Dry Creek Valley. That’s no small feat in a valley that makes a ton of tasty Sauvignon Blanc. The 2010 offering opens with an alluring nose loaded with citrus and hints of tropical fruit. The palate is round and balanced with a bevy of fruit flavors. Lemon ice and kiwi play starring roles, with wisps of grass chipping in as well. There’s a little bit of creaminess in the finish, which has good length and nice crispness. This wine is absolutely delicious on it’s own, but it will climb to greater heights when paired with lighter foods such as Turkish chicken with rice pilaf, soft cheeses or entrée salads.
The Quivira Vineyards 2010 Rosé was produced from a blend of Mourvèdre (53 percent), Syrah (21 percent), Grenache (20 percent) and Carignane (6 percent). After crushing and cold soaking, this wine settled and the fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks. A short period of aging took place in neutral oak prior to bottling. Fewer than 400 cases of this wine were produced, and it has a suggested retail price of $17.
Truth be told, I was a little worried before I tasted this wine. I was incredibly fond of previous vintages of Rosé from Quivira, which were based in large part on Grenache. Due to temperature spikes in the climate, some of the Grenache crop was lost and there wasn’t as much available to make this wine. So it ended up leaning more on Mourvèdre to make up for the missing Grenache. It turns out I had nothing to worry about. The 2010 Rosé from Quivira is very likely the best example of this style of winemaking I’ve had from them. The end result of losing out on some Grenache is that the Rosé ended up being more closely inspired by classic French examples, which are often blends of similar varietals. This wine has a very inviting nose loaded with strawberry, bits of citrus and a host of spices. The palate is soft and lush with refreshing, juicy, red fruit flavors providing a lot of flavor; hints of orange shine through as well. The finish is clean and crisp, lingering with notes of spice. This Rosé is terrific to drink on its own and it’ll pair well with lighter foods from your grill.
The Quivira Vineyards 2009 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel was produced using a combination of estate-grown fruit and grapes sourced from local growers. In addition to Zinfandel, this wine contains small percentages of other grapes, such as Syrah. After fermentation over a period of roughly 14 days, this wine was barrel-aged in a combination of French, American and Hungarian oak for 10 months; 20 percent of the barrels were new. About 5,000 cases of this vintage were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $20.
While Sauvignon Blanc is the white grape that is most prominent in Dry Creek Valley, Zinfandel is the overall grape -- regardless of color -- that Dry Creek is known for. Styles vary widely, with some producing bigger, bolder jam-laden examples and others making more refined and balanced versions. The Quivira Vineyards Zinfandel leans towards the more classic, Claret-styled version of Zinfandel. Both red and black fruit aromas fill the nose of this wine, while black fruits dominate the palate -- blackberry and black raspberry in particular. Hints of red fruit pop in as well. The finish of this wine has good length with copious spices such as black pepper and clove providing a nice final tingle. The real story here is of a well-balanced, proportionate wine that will pair well with a wide array of foods due to its balance and terrific acidity. This is a really nice Zinfandel and an excellent value to boot.
These wines do an excellent job showcasing the sort of balanced, terroir-driven offerings that Quivira is making. They are also equally adept at displaying a sampling of the kinds and quality of wines that can be produced in Dry Creek Valley. This is a Sonoma County appellation that in my opinion doesn’t get nearly the attention and acclaim it deserves. Dollar for dollar the excellent releases out of Dry Creek Valley often offer more quality and value than similarly priced wines from neighboring regions. If you’re not familiar with Quivira Vineyards or Dry Creek Valley, these three wines are an excellent place to begin your education. Trust me -- it’ll be a delicious undertaking.