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Porter Creek Vineyards

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Today we received a shipment of six wines from Porter Creek Vineyards in Healdsburg, Califoirnia. You may recall that we took a trip to Healdsburg in October 2008, staying in the intimate Hotel Les Mars, dining on our final evening at their extraordinary restaurant Cyrus, and devoting a day each to the Dry Creek, Russian River, and Alexander valleys. On Russian River day (described here in the third week of Ron’s View’s existence), we started and ended with winery visits, adding a drive to the ocean and lunch in Jenner in between.

Our first stop was Porter Creek. Les Mars has a wine expert who hosts tastings in a room just off the lobby before dinner each day. The previous evening, when we told him of our Russian River plans, he recommended a stop there. Here’s what I wrote at the time:

our hotel’s wine expert, Ron, explained last night, this is a low key place, with some pretty laid back people doing the wine pouring in a simple building. We parked just off the road in a small gravel lot, just past which was a house with a dog, and beyond that was a wooden shed, where our wine pourer awaited us, as did two more dogs, one young and destined to be big, the other immense. We had a great time there, trying several wines, listening to his explanation of the joy of smelling wine, and hearing his views on life and vineyards in general. They have a small amount of land just outside with Pinot Noir grapes, and he offered us three Pinot Noirs made from them. The difference in the three, he explained, is that the grapes for the reserve came from the vines on the upper part of the slope, the grapes for the cheapest Pinot were from the middle, and the grapes for the final bottle were from the bottom. (The final wine is generally only made available to restaurants, but for a short time each year regular people like us can taste and buy it. On the wall was a list of New York restaurants that have bought the wine.)

In March 2009, I wrote about Porter Creek again, prompted by an Eric Asimov article in the NYT on California Pinot Noirs in which he said:

For me, wine’s place is with food, and that’s why I had begun to despair of so many California pinot noirs. Their power and sense of sweetness were overwhelming at the table. But it turns out that more than a few California producers share my feeling, like Ehren Jordan of Failla and Thomas Brown of Rivers-Marie, Joe Davis of Arcadian and Alex Davis of Porter Creek. Almost to a person, they make no secret of being inspired by the wines of Burgundy.

Asimov quotes Alex Davis later in the article, as you can see in my 2009 post or the article itself.

We long ago drank the wine we bought on our visit to Porter Creek. Last month, I decided that Gail’s birthday provided a perfect opportunity to buy more. I went to the website and found that I could fax in a form to subscribe to their wine program. They have two options, under each of which you get six bottles of wine each April and another six each November.

Winemaker’s Selection Subscription
A tasting menu of our most current releases. An example shipment may include a bottle each of Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Carignane, Syrah and Zinfandel.

Pinot Noir Subscription
Shipment includes a selection of our most current Pinot Noir releases, including limited production single vineyard and reserve bottlings. An example shipment may include 2- Estate PN, 2- Fiona Hill PN, 1-Hillside PN and 1- Reserve PN.

Part of subscribing is that you get a 15% discount as a single subscriber and 20% as a double subscriber, with the discount applying to additional purchases as well.

I chose the Pinot subscription, sent the form, and awaited our November shipment. Alas, it never came. Gail was feeling that she hadn’t gotten a proper birthday present, so a week ago I called to ask if they had received our fax, and if we were too late for that November shipment. The answers were yes and yes. But Jonathan, whom I spoke to, said they could send a representative sample, with the subscription discount. Not a Pinot shipment, but a selection. I said sure.

What came today is exactly as advertised under the selection subscription: a “Fiona Hill Vineyard” Pinot Noir, an “Old Vines” Carignane, a “Timbervine Ranch” Syrah, a “Old Vine” Zinfandel, a George’s Hill Chardonnay, and a Timbervine Ranch Viognier. All are 2009 vintages, the current releases. The Carignane is from Mendocino County; the Zinfandel is listed as being from Sonoma County, the others more specifically from the Russian River Valley.

For dinner tonight, we took out pizzas from The Independent Pizzeria just down the street in Madison Park. It’s one of the many high-end pizza places that have opened in recent years in Seattle. Despite its proximity, we have eaten there only once. Their pizzas are small, thin-crusted, simple, and good. We ordered three: the Twin Peaks (tomato, fontina, crimini, sage), the Pepperoni (tomato, mozzarella, fiore di latte, pepperoni), and the Stevedore (tomato, provolone, Genoa salami of Applegate Farms, red onion, Mama Lil’s peppers). We added a mixed salad to complete the order, waited a half hour, drove down to pick it up, came home, and sat down to dinner.

With six bottles of Porter Creek on the counter, of course we had one. Gail selected the Syrah, which Porter Creek describes as follows:

Shows green olives and bacon on the nose structure and concentration. Co-fermented with 5% Viognier, which rounds out the mouth feel and adds an extra dimension to aromatics. A dramatic wine coming from a very steep hillside vineyard growing in a cooler region of Sonoma County.

I don’t know about the green olives and bacon. I do know that Gail chose well. With Joel home from North Carolina, the three of us had a superb meal, the wine being the best part.

We have more to look forward to. I’m guessing we’ll be putting in another Porter Creek order before the April Pinot shipment arrives.

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