Wine Tasting Notes, 2009: Papapietro Perry, Dry Creek Valley

papapietroperryWith 2007 being a banner vintage for Russian River Pinot Noir, I have been making a concerted effort to get over to Sonoma to scoop up some of these current releases (as well as piggy-backing some orders with friends who are on exclusive mailing lists — such as the list for Chasseur Wines — which has just made its 2007 selections available). Today, I made a long overdue trip to Papapietro Perry in the Dry Creek Valley, an area that not only has some of the best Pinot Noir in Sonoma, but some of the best Zinfandel, as well.

Although Papapietro Perry offers several different bottlings of Pinot Noir, including some clonal-specific bottlings and some single-vineyard bottlings, I tasted just two of these wines today: the 2007 Papapietro Perry Russian River ($45) and the 2007 Papapietro Perry Leras Family Vineyard ($49). Both wines were seamless, with delicate extraction and wonderful focus. For me, it was refreshing to encounter a Pinot Noir that shows some deference to the grape, since so many wineries can seem to treat this varietal like Cabernet Sauvignon.

I found that Papapietro Perry also demonstrated a similar approach with its Zinfandels, which was equally admirable. In this era of 17% alcohol Zins, which can often drink like Port, but without the residual sugar, I’ve found that many winemakers have lost their finesse, even on their way to high point-ratings (which implies that many wine critics have lost their way, as well). These beastly, high-alcohol Zins might stand out during a blind tasting, but they are utterly useless at the dinner table.

Today, I tasted the 2006 Papapietro Perry Russian River Zinfandel ($35) and the 2006 Papapeitro Perry Pauline’s Vineyard Zinfandel ($37). Both wines are under 15% alcohol, which means that the common “hot” Zin finish is mercifully absent in both of these wines, although it’s not missed in the slightest. As is typical for my own tastes, I preferred the Dry Creek bottling to the Russian River bottling, and so the Pauline’s Vineyard was my favorite of the two. In truth, it’s one of the best Zins that I’ve tasted this year.

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