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Women and award-winning wine

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David Stare with his daughter Kim Stare Wallace who is president of Dry Creek Vineyard, the winery he established in 1972 (Photograph supplied)

On February 7 the Wine Enthusiast, a magazine and website with half a million subscribers, held a black-tie event at Eden Roc Miami Beach. I often quote the various wine reviews that they publish, and the purpose of this recent gathering was to present their annual awards.

I first became hooked on wines from Dry Creek Vineyard back in the early 1980s and this was well before anyone here was paying attention to wines from North or South America.

David Stare was the first, in 1972, to establish a new winery in the Dry Creek area since prohibition. He has always been an avid sailor, hence the craft illustrated on all his labels. He has sailed his own boat to Bermuda, and we have enjoyed taking him out on ours here – both many years ago.

Here is what David said in Miami on February 7: “I am honoured and humbled to be named an American wine legend. All along the way, I was told that my ideas had never been done before. Being a kid from Boston, I was just bull-headed enough to do what I wanted to do. Nearly 50 years later, I am so proud that Dry Creek Vineyard remains one of the last truly private, family-owned, iconic wineries from Sonoma County consistently producing 90-plus point wines.”

Dave’s daughter, Kim Stare Wallace, serves as president overseeing a successful family winemaking and grape growing business that includes 185 acres of sustainably farmed vineyards. Named a “Top 100 Winery” by Wine & Spirits Magazine and a “Top 10 Tasting Room” by USA Today, the winery is also 100 per cent certified sustainable.

About fifteen years ago a visiting wine rep left a bottle of Catena wine on my desk for me to try. I really did not have Argentina on my list of possible prospects – so there it sat for a couple of months. Finally, I took it home to try and the very next morning I was on the phone asking for the opportunity to represent and import these wines!

Since then, my wife and I have had the pleasure of seeing Laura Catena, her brother and her mother and father, mostly in New York, but also in California and Argentina. They are all so friendly and a joy to know.

Nicolás Catena Zapata with his daughter Laura Catena who is now the managing director of the family winery, Bodega Catena Zapata (Photograph supplied)

The Wine Enthusiast has also just awarded Nicolás Catena Zapata, founder of Bodega Catena Zapata, a Lifetime Achievement Award for his efforts to amplify Argentina’s wine industry worldwide. Dr Zapata’s daughters, Laura and Adrianna, gratefully accepted the award on their father’s behalf, ending their speech in a heartfelt embrace.

Commenting upon her father’s milestone, Laura, now the managing director of Catena Zapata, said: “My father is a true pioneer. He began a revolution in Argentina when he decided to plant so high that nobody thought that vines could ripen there. His vision that malbec could make profound and age-worthy wines led to it becoming Argentina's signature wine variety. Today, we continue to work towards my father's mission of making Argentine wines that can stand with the best of the world.”

Now that you understand who is responsible for these lovely wines from the Americas, I will share three with you from each winery. They all rate ninety points or more and they are, with one exception, in the lower twenties regarding the price. They both produce more expensive bottlings, with Catena taking the top spot as one we list for $250, but today I wish to emphasise what beautiful ones they offer that we can all afford.

Our 2018 Dry Creek Vineyard Heritage Vines Zinfandel, gets 92 points from Wine.com which says: “Always one of my go-to, most dependable, high quality zins. Explodes with charming and focused flavours of blackberries, liquorice and sweet spices.” It has 77 per cent zinfandel, 22 per cent petite sirah and 1 per cent carignan. $31.75 (Stock #6507).

Our 2019 Dry Creek Vineyard Dry Chenin Blanc, rates 91/100 with Wine.com and received this commentary: “[It] takes a page out of France’s Loire Valley as it plays on a level field with the best vouvray. Fresh, bright and attractive with aromas of honeydew, dried earth and tart apples.” $23.50 (Stock #6505).

I believe that if you asked the Stare family what is the wine that they are best known for, they would say sauvignon blanc. Even though David was advised years ago not to plant this grape in his area, he did so anyway.

According to Wine.com the 2019 Dry Creek Vineyard Fumé Blanc (Sauvignon Blanc) “remains one of California’s most remarkable and consistent wines. This new vintage is predictably at the top of its game. Dried spices, herbs, tangy citrus and chalk. 92/100”. $23.50 (Stock #6506).

The 2019 Catena Malbec offers intense aroma, a soft texture and concentrated flavours of dark, ripe red fruits, violets along with traces of vanilla and mocha. Parker’s Wine Advocate rates it 92/100 and writes: “The excellent and floral 2019 Catena Malbec shows the typicity of the grape, violets and red berries, and the freshness of the year. It has the textbook aromas and a soft and velvety mouthfeel, with very fine grainy tannin.” $23.80 (Stock #7116).

Our 2019 Catena Cabernet Sauvignon garners a high 93 points from James Suckling who writes, “A firm, integrated cabernet with attractive plum and chocolate aromas and flavours. Medium body, round tannins and a delicious, flavourful finish. Drink now.” Parker, who rates it 92 points, tells us that it is a 93 per cent cabernet sauvignon and 7 per cent cabernet franc blend that has, “a classical nose, combining the herbal character of the grape with good ripeness, resulting in a very complete wine”. $23.30 (Stock #7117).

I will come to an end with 2019 Catena Tupengato Chardonnay that scores 93 points with James Suckling who describes it this way: “This has very attractive aromas of ripe peaches with hints of lemons and grapefruit and a flinty edge. The palate has a thread of gently roasted hazelnuts through fresh lemons and peaches. So fresh and fleshy with lots of fruit to offer.” Parker’s Wine Advocate awards it 92+/100. You may find the new 2020 in our shops as we are changing over to newest shipment shortly. $22.25 (Stock #7119).

News bulletin: Just found out that the 2018 Dry Creek Zinfandel is very low in stock, but the good news is that the 2019 is expected next month and it also rates 92 points!

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at mrobinson@bll.bm. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm

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Published February 18, 2022 at 7:58 am (Updated February 17, 2022 at 8:05 am)

Women and award-winning wine

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