One thing I like about living in Sonoma County is the stubbornly independent streak of its vintners. They do what they do, trends be damned, and if you don’t like it—tough! Case in point is Dry Creek Vineyard. It helped set the standard for Sonoma Zinfandel and has remained true to the house style over the years while maintaining a modest price point.
That is not an easy balancing act, keeping prices low while trying to make the best Zin you can, and Dry Creek has struggled from time to time, producing Zinfandels that sometimes lack in the finesse department. But the Sonoma County Heritage 2008 is everything I like about the winery’s Zins—it’s zesty and full of deep plum and black raspberry fruit, finishing with notes of cedar and dill and lively tannins. It packs only 13.5 percent alcohol, well below the current norm.
Winemaker Bill Knuttel blends Dry Creek and Russian River Valley fruit, mostly from bench lands and hillsides. The blend is 82 percent Zin, with 18 percent Petite Sirah to add punch. He ages it for 10 months in a mix of American and French oak barrels. I opened a bottle with pasta in marinara sauce on a recent chilly, rainy night and rated it 88 points, non-blind. Best of all, it’s only $19.
WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for previous bottlings of Dry Creek Vineyard Zinfandels.
• Plus, get our quick list of Top Values in California Zinfandel.