Peterson Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley
I buy Peterson wines from Locals
year in and year out. I’ve been a member since April of 2003 when I stumbled across the tasting room with a former girlfriend. I joined the Nouveau Hicks that day. The lady is long gone, but Locals is still with me. Then I met the lady that is now my wife, so I brought her out to meet the Locals in 2006! She’s committed. Or maybe she should be!
Peterson makes some of the best wines in my cellar. Their Zinfandels, especially, just trip me out. I know wine is ‘supposed’ to be about food pairings, but some wines are soooo good that I just want to sip them by themselves, outdoors on the dark patio on a warm summer night so my senses are just flooded by the wine experience. Such is Peterson’s Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. It is a conciousness-expanding bath of fragrance and flavor. I could list all the wonderful things I smell and taste in this wine, but I won’t. That’s on you.
If that wasn’t enough, Peterson also makes a range of other Zinfandels – another of my favorites (new!) is their ‘Old School, No-thinkin Just drinkin’ Zin. The 2008 was a rich, flavorful cherry/tobacco over-achiever whose label bore one of the most hilarious clean jokes ever re-told. I just ordered the 2009 and I haven’t tried it yet (I live several hundred miles away in Denver and UPS beats the crap out of shipped wine, so I let it sit a while to recover itself before I taste it) but the joke isn’t as good so I expect the wine will be even better.
When I go for a Dry Creek Zinfandel, I’m prepared for spice and jam. Dry Creek has made a name for itself for turning out great, and often full, jammy Zinfandels. The typical style has a lot of dark berries and fruits and then the spices kick in on the finish. With this in my brain, on a cold November evening, I tried the Peterson Zinfandel. I should have read the label. Yes, it’s from Dry Creek, but NO this is not your typical Dry Creek Zin. The Peterson Zin is intended to be more of the Claret style. The body is lighter, the acidity is higher, and the wine leans more towards the earth and spice than the fruit, though there are definitely the usual dark berry notes there. The Peterson Zinfandel wine is absolutely a food wine. It will go really well with richer dishes that need something to cut through the fat. Shortribs would be my pick, or any slow-cooked, rich meat. I would stay away from pairing this with leaner meats, fish, or anything too delicate because the acidity and spice will kill it. On a nerdy wine geek note, if you’re looking for something to hold for a couple years, this would be an interesting choice. Yes, this wine is fine to drink now with your short ribs, but it will definitely be better with some age on it. So buy too bottles, and in two years, you’ll enjoy an even more balanced Claret!
Caitlin is an oenophile and sommelier based on the East Coast (though in her mind, she splits her time between her imaginary vineyards in Sonoma and Bordeaux). Caitlin has had the pleasure to spend many years working in restaurants with some great wine lists, and learning from wonderful wine and food professionals. Above all, she has a great respect and love for a great pairing, the industry, the creators, and the grapes! Cheers!