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Preston to service

A 2004 Sonoma/San Francisco travelogue; part 2

by Thor Iverson

[Thor & car at Preston]

Car 54, where are you?
14 August 2004 – Dry Creek Valley, California

Preston of Dry Creek – I remember buying a lot of barbera and, I think, marsanne from this winery’s Boston-area wholesaler when I was first getting serious about wine. But the supply sorta petered out, and finally disappeared entirely. There’s undoubtedly some epic history of expansion and violent contraction here, and while its skeletal outline is sketched on the winery’s web site, I’m not really interested in the details. I’m just here to taste wine.

The tasting room itself is somewhat cluttered with oenological knick-knacks, doodads and trinkets, along with the usual diamond bins of wine and several baskets of the estate’s olive oils, vinegars, and bread. Lou Preston – tall, bearded, weathered – mans the counter with a variable amount of help. He’s chatty and friendly, and we get right down to tasting a rather interesting lineup of wines.

Preston of Dry Creek 2003 Sauvignon Blanc Hartsock (Dry Creek Valley) – Creamy lemon rind and green apple with an intense sweet/sour candy character at its core, showing great acidity and good ripeness. That candied note is slightly negative, however.

Preston of Dry Creek 2003 Viognier (Dry Creek Valley) – White peaches, honeysuckle and light minerality; a really beautiful and varietally-accurate expression of viognier, but with the unexpected buoyancy of fresh, zingy acidity and an unusually light-footed finish. The only flaw, and it’s a very slight one, is a bitter high-toned note that streaks across the midpalate. But overall, this is really pretty excellent for California viognier, which all too often shows the absolute worst characteristics of this variably cranky grape.

Preston of Dry Creek 2002 Mourvèdre (Dry Creek Valley) – Blackberry and blueberry, with chewy, slightly green tannins and a gritty texture. It’s juicy, and it’s reasonably long-finishing, but it’s fairly disjointed and has a vaguely unpleasant demeanor. I’m not sure this is fully ripe.

Preston of Dry Creek 2002 Sangiovese (Dry Creek Valley) – Ripe strawberry seed and raw duck breast; juicy, big, and short. Surprisingly Tuscan, in a facelifted sort of way, for a California sangiovese, and better than this note might indicate. At least over the short term, this could provide some fun chugging.

Preston of Dry Creek 2001 “L. Preston” (Dry Creek Valley) – A blend dominated by syrah, with mourvèdre, carignane, and cinsault playing supporting roles, showing smoked almonds, thick blackberry, and chewy leather characteristics. Despite a rather positive organoleptic profile, however, the overall package isn’t all that fun to drink. Perhaps it just needs time, but I suspect the elements are not as well-knit as they need to be.

Preston of Dry Creek 2002 Zinfandel “Old Vines/Old Clones” (Dry Creek Valley) – 14.4% alcohol. Brambly and briary in a way that far, far too few zins are these days, showing blueberry and wild cherry with persistent acidity and a good dose of tannin. Good stuff, and likely balanced enough to be ageable.

Preston of Dry Creek 2001 Syrah Vogensen Bench (Dry Creek Valley) – Blueberry, leather, earth, oregano, and smoked midsummer leaves that initially present as underripe, but grow and ripen and sweeten as the finish progresses. A gamble that pays off, but just barely.

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