Pedroncelli Winery: A Dry Creek Valley tradition
The very first time I went to Dry Creek Valley in California’s Sonoma County during the early ‘90s, it was with a very specific goal in mind. My intent was to visit Pedroncelli Winery. Whatever else I accomplished that day was of secondary concern. I’d been drinking their Mother Clone Zinfandel and liked it so much I wanted to go to the source and sample their other wares. Little did I know then that Mother Clone served as my gateway not only to Pedroncelli specifically, but also the world of Zinfandel and Dry Creek Valley as a whole.
That first taste was much earlier in my wine-drinking life, and my general impression back then was that Pedroncelli was over-delivering in terms of the price-quality ratio. Sometimes as life goes on and we experience more, what we once thought doesn’t always hold true. Over the last couple of decades I’ve tasted countless thousands of wines priced all over the map. They’ve included great, good, mediocre, awful and a fair number of legendary wines. With that experience under my belt, I’ve found that there are some producers that I don’t go back to anymore. In some cases the wines aren’t consistently good; in others my palate has shifted away from what they’re doing. One thing has remained constant -- I keep going back to the Pedroncelli wines over and over again. They remain a family owned and operated winery that puts out wines of distinction that offer tremendous value to consumers. The wide availability of most of their portfolio across the country also adds to their appeal. Today I’ll take a look at three current wines from a producer that has had as much an impact upon me as a wine lover as any others I have tried.
The Pedroncelli 2010 Dry Rosé of Zinfandel was produced using fruit mostly grown at their home vineyard, along with a small amount of fruit sourced at one other vineyard. Fermentation took place in temperature-controlled stainless steel. About 1,100 cases of this Rosé were produced, and it has a suggested retail price of $10. This Rosé leads with a Salmon hue that simply looks like perfection in the glass. Strawberry and crème fraiche aromas waft from the glass. The palate is juicy and loaded with watermelon, cherry and hints of rhubarb. White pepper and hints of tart cherry emerge on the finish. This wine has just a hint of sweetness to it. Pair this with a Saturday afternoon lunch of Sloppy Joes, a cheese course or a bean-based chili. It’ll work really well with those dishes and more, as well as getting you in the mood for spring.
The Pedroncelli 2009 Three Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (78 percent), Cabernet Franc (15 percent) and Merlot (7 percent). After harvesting, the fruit was crushed into temperature-controlled stainless steel where it underwent fermentation. Barrel aging took place over 12 months in a combination of American (70 percent) and French (30 percent) oak. Pedroncelli produced 7,100 cases of this vintage, and it has a suggested retail price of $17. Blackberry and cherry aromas lead the nose of this Cabernet Sauvignon, and a hint of vanilla bean is present as well. Cherry flavors dominate the palate with both black and red varieties chipping in. Red plum plays a role here as well, and leads to the finish which shows of black pepper, nutmeg, clove and bits of cinnamon. The finish is above average for the price point. The Three Vineyards Cabernet is marked by racy acidity. This sips well on its own, but excels when paired with substantial foods. The hearty stews of winter are a perfect foil. Most people know about the Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley; what a lot of folks don’t realize is that Cabernet Sauvignon is their secret weapon. There are quite a few examples of excellent Cabernet Sauvignon from Dry Creek Valley that outshine many neighboring appellations on value. This example from Pedroncelli is one of them.
The Pedroncelli 2007 Four Grapes Port was produced using fruit sourced at the Pedroncelli Estate Vineyards. The specific vineyard was planted in 1995. This offering is a blend of Tinta Madeira, Tinta Cao, Touriga Nacional and Souzao, the traditional varieties utilized to make Port in the Douro. The fruit was harvested in the field blend style. Fermentation is halted with neutral grape spirits, and barrel aging occurred over 42 months in American oak. This Port is finished in 500 ml bottles and has a suggested retail price of $19. Dark fruit aromas and spice are prominent on the nose of this wine. Those fleshy plum and dark berry characteristics carry through to the palate where they’re joined by bits of brown sugar and plum pudding spices. Kirsch Liqueur, dark chocolate and wisps of earth emerge on the finish, which has excellent length. This Port has medium tannins which recede with some air. Year after year this Port knocks me out. I’ve tasted a lot of Ports, dessert wines and the like from California -- this is far and away the closest example to a traditional example from Portugal you’ll find in the Golden State. And while this may not be intended to age for numerous decades, it will certainly improve and drink well for the next 15 years. Considering the $19 suggested retail price of a 500 ml bottle, it’s a flat out steal. Drink it with dark chocolate, cheeses, or let it act as dessert all by itself.
I’m a huge fan of the Pedroncelli wines and the Dry Creek Valley as a whole. This is evidenced by the fact that I run a site, Drink Dry Creek, dedicated to this awesome valley. Pedroncelli Winery continues to deliver great values and really delicious wines. Their portfolio contains offerings that are perfectly suited for everyday consumption, and bottles that are certainly appropriate for special occasions as well. I’ve been drinking the Perdroncelli Wines for almost 20 years now; I plan to do so for many years more. If you travel to Sonoma, stop by and see them; they have delicious wines and you won’t find a friendlier group of folks. And if you won’t be there soon, check your local wine shop for one of the Pedroncelli wines -- they’re worth your time and money.