Wine Column: Bennet’s Favorite Wine

By Bennet Bodenstein

I am often asked what wine is my favorite wine variety or whose wines I really like. My usual answer is to say that I am a wine columnist and must remain neutral: well I, lied. Being human, a fact that some have often questioned, I do have my preferences, my likes, and unfortunately, my dislikes. While I try to keep my personal preferences out of the picture, they occasionally do creep in. Among my personal favorites are the wines from Dry Creek Vineyards. There is just something about their wines that appeals to me. That is why I give my opinion of the wines I write about and not a critical dissertation or numbers. I feel that what you like I might hate and vice versa. I therefore keep critical judgments to myself and always invite the reader to try the wine and make their own opinion remembering, that one of the great joys of wine are the vast amount in the marketplace to try.

Dry Creek Vineyards is one of those producers that you can count on year after year after year. You can easily spot their wine by the sailing ship painting on the label. Sorry, no owls, deer or flying squirrels, just a sail boat and some very trustworthy wines.

Dry Creek 2018 Estate Block 10 Russian River Chardonnay ($34). Among the wine varieties that have disappointed me the most is the Chardonnay. I have sampled so very many Chards that did not even approach the true qualities associated with the variety that I very often look upon them with suspicion. A Chardonnay wine should make a very positive statement. It should have easily discernible flavor and aromas but also finish with a buttery taste in the mouth; a feature missing in many of the others. The Dry Creek 2018 Estate Block 10 Russian River Chardonnay lives up to all of the “requirements” for a better Chardonnay but it also add the “certain something” that personally appeals to me. The aroma and flavor loudly bespeaks that it is a Chardonnay and finish is buttery and magnificent. If you believe that Chardonnay wines are dull and boring, this one will change your mind.

Dry Creek Vineyard 2016 The Mariner ($50). This very fine well aged red wine is a blend of several of the more popular red grape varieties with Cabernet  Sauvignon being the main constituent followed by 16% Merlot, followed by 10% Petite Verdot, 7% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc. This wine offers all of the attributes of its constituent’s in a masterfully constructed blend often. The style is referred to as a Meritage and often represent the very best a winery has to offer; such is the case with this wine.  The aroma is a compendium of interesting sensations, running from black cherries to tobacco to cedar. The flavor accents dark berries and cassis with a whole series of under flavors running from chocolate to mint. The finish is expansive and the best word to describe this wine is elegant, and that is exactly what it is, an elegant, well crafted, and thoroughly enjoyable wine.

Dry Creek 2016 Clarksburg Chenin Blanc ($16). Chenin Blanc is another one of those varieties that has had a miserable past in California. It is famous for the wines made in the Loire Valley of France, which are often sweet. In the hands of the Dry Creek Vintners the grape produces an elegant dry wine offering the aromas of melon, peach, and lemon. The flavor is a mélange of apple, melons, and tropical fruits. These flavors carry over to the finish that also expresses the Dry Creek Valley’s signature mineral element with some chalky notes that definitely increases the interest. This wine is the perfect wine to accompany sea food, shell fish, salads, the light meats, and anything that is spicy. The wine, which is one of my personal favorites, has lifted the often maligned Chenin Blanc to new heights of excellence and quality.