Optima Winery Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2010
By Jonathan H. Newman*
Optima 2010 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
UNIT SIZE: 750.00 ml
GRAPE: Zinfandel, Petite Sirah
COUNTRY: United States
REGION: Dry Creek Valley
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 14.90%
SPECIAL DESIGNATION: Value Buy
Mike Duffy is a Zinfandel specialist and the '10 vintage was a beauty in the Dry Creek Valley producing wines of nice intensity and flavor. He has been making wines under his Optima labels for 30 years. He only makes a few hundred cases of Zinfandel every year. At attractive savings from this wine’s usual retail of $30, this wine becomes a very compelling value buy. This wine spent a year in new and neutral French and American oak. Additionally, it has now had two years in bottle so it is perfectly aged and ready for immediate enjoyment. This wine has all the hallmarks of classic Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel with lots of fresh berries, dark raspberry jam, blueberries, boysenberry, dark chocolate, crushed red flowers and nutmeg. It is well balanced, medium bodied and focused with rounding tannins. A nice finish with root beer and pie crust. Enjoy now and over the next several years. Made for summer barbeques including ribs, barbequed chicken and burgers, steaks, Cajun pork chops, grilled Portobello mushrooms, or brisket sandwiches.
By Optima Winery
2010 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
Appellation: Dry Creek Valley
Blend: 98% Zinfandel, 2% Petite Sirah
Residual Sugar: None
The 2010 vintage was produced from fruit grown on the western bench of Dry Creek Valley, 200 feet above the valley floor. The vineyard experiences cool, foggy mornings and warm days. Because there is a substantial difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures, the growing season lasts longer, so the grapes mature more slowly. Harvested on September 19, 2010, at 25.9 degrees brix , the fruit was gently crushed and destemmed, and fermented 10 days to dryness. Following pressing, the wine was clarified naturally by settling, and them moved to small oak cooperage where it aged for 12 months. We used a blend of sixty gallon French and American oak barrels to both enhance and complement the wonderful berry aromas.
One could argue that Zinfandel is Dry Creek Valley’s quintessential wine grape variety. Agree or not, this is Optima’s finest offering of Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel to date. An absolute pleasure to drink. Incredible aromatic bouquet exuberant in fruit, explosive in wild berry, red currant, wild cherries, cocoa and dusty spice flavors that sink deep into the palate. Wonderfully bright and briary in the mouth, with lively acidity giving structure to the intense decadent flavors of chocolate, dark berries, mocha and peppery spice flavors that are so rich, deep and long-lasting. Absolutely delicious. Sweet creamy vanilla oak adds polish to the rich firm tannins and spicy powerful finish. The balance of this quintessential Zinfandel allows great versatility with food.
Winemaker, Mike Duffy
When Mike Duffy decided to start his own winery, he briefly struggled to think of a name - he wanted a name that was easy to remember and people could pronounce, out of thin air came Optima and it stuck. Now more than thirty years later, he finds the moniker quite fitting. The dictionary defines Optima as the plural of Optimum which means “...the best of several outcomes”. The story of Optima and the Duffy family could have had several different endings. But this one truly is among the best. Optima, located in picturesque Healdsburg, California, is the epitome of a small family winery, annually producing only 5,000 cases of top quality Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and a Zinfandel Port. The limited production allows everyone in the family - Mike, Nicol and sons Danny, Tyler, Chris and Will - to be personally involved in all aspects of the operation. And it enables Mike, as winemaker, to employ winemaking techniques that larger wineries don’t have time for, such as counter pressure racking, extended maceration and unfiltered wines. Mike's approach to winemaking combines art and practicality. The Optima label made its first appearance in 1984 on 400 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon, crafted by Mike and his late wife, Tina. Over the years, Mike worked full time as winemaker for Trefethen in Napa Valley and Field Stone in Alexander Valley. Optima, in a sense, was his “weekend warrior” project. In 1997, Mike left Field Stone to operate Optima full-time, a move he made because it allowed him to spend more time on his brand and with his family. Sadly, Mike lost his wife to cancer, but that did not stop him from moving forward raising three boys, coaching baseball and soccer and making wine. In 2002, Mike met Nicol Massa, and with his three sons, Danny, Chris and Will, and Nicol’s son, Tyler, they became one family. Today, they celebrate the continued success of Optima close to three decades later, while continuing the tradition of producing premium world class wines in limited quantities. “For us, it’s totally a family affair.” says Nicol. “Each bottle that leaves the winery represents our hard work, our dreams and our devotion to each other.” The winery focuses on outstanding red wines produced from grapes grown in premium locations in Sonoma County. These include the flagship Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley and three wines form Dry Creek Valley, a Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and a Zinfandel Port.
[Information provided by J.H.N.]
*Jonathan Newman was Wine Enthusiasts’ Man of the Year. He also was Chairman of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, and received national recognition in Marvin Shanken’s Market Watch Magazine and many other international wine publications. He was also awarded the Guild of Sommeliers highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award. Mr. Newman's reviews have been published and quoted extensively online and in print. He travels extensively to many of the major wine growing regions and evaluates many of the wines we source from smaller and boutique wineries. We interact closely with him and the result is his rejection rate of over 96% of the wines evaluated.