The real deal in Dry Creek Valley

Fred Peterson has a winemaking resume to rival many. He’s been at some of California’s most famous estates, working in Monterey, the Santa Cruz Mountains and Sonoma County. Just over 20 years ago he took up the building of his own brand under his name. Such a wealth of experience elevates some winemakers into an elite stardom that eschews time with the punters. But not this winegrower. He has a warm persona and a super friendly manner, that invites questions and conversation over a slow, relaxed pace.

One of the reasons I admire Fred is that he’s willing to gamble on wines that aren’t fashionable.  Carignane anyone?  How about Sangiovese?  As much as I have poured Sangiovese in countless classes to the delight of many, it just doesn’t take flight in the popularity contests. It’s the winemakers who champion these grapes that will preserve our wine diversity down the road.

Peterson, Mendocino, Zero Manipulation 2006 There’s lots of warm and ripe black and red fruits with ripe tannins, meaning that there is none of the astringency we see in some of the clunkier Carignane out there.  Fred say’s there’s a juiciness to the fruit and I agree. It’s easy drinking. Besides the Carignane there’s a little Petite, Zin and Syrah. The wine ages in mostly older oak for 11 months. P&B in Healdsburg, 13.6% $15 at the winery.

Peterson, Dry Creek Valley, IL Granaio, Sangiovese 2004 This wine is made in the spirit of a Super-Tuscan blend by going beyond Sangiovese and inviting other grapes to play in the game. It could be that this wine is the one to win over more converts to Sangiovese. It smells of sweet cherry pie, a mixture of baked cherries in a freshly made pastry with some fresh cherries thrown on top at the end. There is the palpable acidity associated with Sangiovese and a creamy richness as well. This softer, more luscious treatment of Sangiovese might be the ideal first step for many to enjoy a wine that can be quite intensely acidic, $27 at the winery.

Peterson, Dry Creek Valley, Bradford Mountain Vineyard, Zinfandel 2004 Zin is one of the standard bearers of Dry Creek’s reputation and this Zin matches the acclaim. There is liquer-like blackberry fruit that leaps out of the glass. In the mouth there is youthful fresh fruit with a moderate amount of acidity to brighten it further – very nice. This is sourced from the winery’s vineyard up on the mountain at about 1000 feet elevation. $30 at the winery

Jamie Peterson, Fred’s son is on the front line making the wines today. He’s taking his father’s legacy to the next level and enhancing the winery’s reputation. Visit them out on Dry Creek Road. There’ll be a mascot on hand to greet you when you arrive. Peterson

About Ray

Ray Johnson is the Executive Director of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University. He writes about food and wine, his travels and the business of wine. He makes his home in Sonoma County, California.
This entry was posted in California, Carignane, Dry Creek Valley, Mendocino County, Sangiovese, Sonoma County, Zinfandel. Bookmark the permalink.

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