Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dry Creek Love Affair: Celebritized Mythology

Stop 1, Zichichi.  Have been a fan of Steve’s grapes since he sold them to St. Francis a few years ago.  When I heard, somewhat recently, that he’d launched his own label, I was more than intrigued, visibly frenzied.  I arrived on the grounds on a rainy day earlier this week, capturing pictures from the moment of landing.  Once within the security of the cozy tasting Room, I approached the bar, peered at the menu.  Simple, straightforward, confirming a mastery, a special hold, on Zinfandel.  With Steve as my host, I was assured a memorable set of pours.  He started me with the ’06 Estate Zin, which relayed one of the most distinguished profiles I’ve met, when it comes to Zin.  Very firm yet smooth with its spicy and rustic raspberry whirlwind.  Then, onto the ’06 Old Vine Estate Zin (Dry Creek Valley), which scored a 95 in the Wine Enthusiast.  Not hard to see why, with its nearly flawless note arrangements and palate presence.  Complex, bewildering, truly dazzling in the finish.  We concluded with an ’06 Cab, Napa Valley fruit.  Young in its personality, this wine promises to develop formidably with dark fruit, cigar box, herbal chords, and a tickle of earth.  Great time, great wine, hospitality, and views.  An honor to have Steve Zichichi pouring for me, to be modest.
Stop 2, Armida.  I have always wanted to come here.  Having enjoyed their wines for years, their tasting room and grounds were like a mythologized corner to me, an distant dimensional haven.  But, I found it quite detectable, just up Westside Road.  The tasting Room: lively, visual, friendly, informative (with the the tasting menu and literature placed to your front, in a sleek and svelte folder).  Everything from the Sauv Blanc, to the infamously impeccable Poizin, to the 2006 Stuhlmuller Vineyard (AV) Cabernet impressed me, kept me a fan.  Had the delight of meeting some members of “The A Team:” owner Bruce Cousins, winemaker Brandon Lapides, and “Merchandise Queen” Janet Linnett, who provided the majority of the hospitality at the bar, pouring.  I had my attention split in three: wine, tasting Room arrangement and flash, and the gorgeous view from the sizable window to my right.  So many things to walk away with, in terms of gifts and collectibles.  That combined with remarkable wine, had to contain the Self, enamored as I was, am.  No longer a myth, I know this place exists, and I will be coming back, to get Poizined... 

I remember at one point in my driving, stopping, taking pictures of everything around me.  Removing my pen and little notepad, scribbling.  The affair, enveloping a literary figure, overwhelming him.  My two visits bolstered the effectiveness of the valley’s conjuration.

Dry Creek, in its sovereignty and splendor, stays in my thoughts, sight, and cellar, small as it may be.  Pleased that I took the day to visit two that I’ve always wanted to.  So distinct, so delicious.  Especially now, in the autumn, after harvest, this valley has a reemphasizing magical net cast over its visitors.  The intensity of vineyard pigmented opulence to the flavor profile of the air, to the rain that chose to accompany me on my solo mission.  No where else in this wine world parallels.  My love affair persists, with a fermented zone individualistically pietistic in its gifts to us who sip, sip...  

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