Tasting in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley: Wines of Bella, Truett-Hurst, Preston

On the other side of Highway 101, Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley is a sleepy alternative to the bustle of Napa and even of Sonoma proper. Here, there’s little but narrow roads winding through vineyards. No Michelin-starred restaurants out here or even so much as a gas station. If you need a snack, there’s but one “general store” (always jam-packed) from which to obtain provisions.

Getting around Dry Creek is easy and fun. A recent tour took us to three lesser-known wineries a bit off the beaten path. Thoughts follow.

Tasting Report: Dry Creek Valley

2011 Bella Hills and Benches Zinfandel / $35 / B+ / fragrant and floral; strawberry, mint, sweeter finish
2011 Bella Lily Hill Estate Zinfandel / $40 / A- / intense, big body, huge structure
2010 Bella Big River Ranch Petite Sirah / $38 / B / gravelly, tannic
2012 Bella Late Harvest Zinfandel / $25 / B+ / fun, less cloying than you’d think; easy finish
2012 Ten Acre Russian River Valley Chardonnay / $30 / B+ / Bella’s second label; some butter notes, caramel apple character
2011 Ten Acre Cummings Vineyard Pinot Noir / $55 / A / light pepper, black and blueberry; an exciting wine
2012 Truett-Hurst Swallowtail Chardonnay / $27 / A- / lovely fruit, apple and pear, butterscotch
2012 Truett-Hurst White Sheep Pinot Noir / $40 / B+ / big fruit, red pepper, vanilla
2012 Truett-Hurst Black Sheep Pinot Noir / $40 / B / more chocolate/caramel notes
2012 Truett-Hurst Bradford Mountain Zinfandel / $33 / B+ / good balance; ripe berries, raisins; peppery edge
2012 Truett-Hurst Luci Zinfandel / $33 / A- / somewhat bolder, racy
2012 Truett-Hurst Red Rooster Zinfandel / $33 / B / a little flabby
2012 Truett-Hurst Southdown Zinfandel / $33 / B+ / good balance; slightly peppery; raspberry notes
2012 Preston Madam Preston / $32 / B+ / 50% viognier, 40% rousanne, 8% grenache blanc, 2% marsanne – peachy nose, apricots, marshmallows – perfumed finish
2012 Preston Grenache Blanc / $30 / B+ / bolder, butterscotch notes
2011 Preston Barbera / $34 / B- / thin, blackberry, a bit sweaty
2011 Preston L. Preston / $36 / B+ / 50% syrah, 20% mourvedre, 16% grenache, 8% cinsault, 6% carignane – beautiful nose, classic earth and plums, lots of acid, a bit too tart on the finish
2012 Guadagni Red Table Wine (3L) / $36 / B / artisinal jug wine, blended at Preston (refills available on site); surprisingly easy but simple; plenty of fruit

P.S. 3000 posts! Woot!

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