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*Offsite events are contracted to and coordinated by a 3rd party, and are in no way affiliated with Chambers Street Wines.
We're very excited and happy to host winemaker Alex Davis of Porter Creek Vineyards at a dinner and tasting at Racines NY on March 31st! Alex is making some of the finest wines of California, combining Burgundian traditions with the beautiful fruit from the unique terroirs and cool climate of the Russian River Valley - enhanced by the estate's conversion to Biodynamic farming in 2003. “Over time, as its' Westside Road neighbors have sided with heft, Porter Creek and its vineyards have become the loyal opposition, producing wines with modest extraction and a silken texture. It is surprising the wines aren’t better known.” – Jon Bonné, The New California Wine (Please see dinner details below.)
"Porter Creek Vineyards is a small family winery with a rich history of winegrowing based on innovation, independence, passion and respect for the land. In many respects our Estate has the feel of a property that has been unchanged by time and the glitz of the modern wine business. Yet the principles that have guided our formation are well ahead of the time, then and now: balanced wines with soul, low intervention, integrated winemaking, and stewardship of the farm and surrounding environment." Home page, Porter Creek Vineyards.
This idea of 'wines with soul' occurs to me frequently when tasting - it's not definable of course, but has something to do with the character of the winemakers, their committment to the health of their soils and their staff, and a winemaking philosophy based on organic and biodynamic farming with the most natural of vinifications and élevage - and you can certainly taste it in the wines. French estates such as Pierre Gonon, Bernard Baudry, Pierre André, Le Jonc Blanc, Christian Ducroux and many others come to mind. I've always had this feeling about the wines of Porter Creek, beginning with a visit in 2007, as I was intrigued with those estates converting to biodynamics in California. I found the wines quite delicious and the domain had the feel of a small family estate in Europe, with a young winemaker who had grown up in the vines and recently taken over from his father - a rather unusual situation on the west coast!
The winery got its start in 1977 when Alex's father George Davis purchased 40 acres off Westside Road in what would eventually become the Russian River Valley AVA. The property had young Pinot Noir vines, some of which are still producing today at 45 years old. Pinot Noir was so underappreciated at that time that George was actually forced to plant more Chardonnay and less Pinot Noir than he wanted. Alex Davis grew up rolling barrels, driving tractors and tending vines as his father's chief “gopher," and came home with first place in the California statewide grapevine-pruning contest! Alex then studied Enology at Fresno State University and spent several years in France working with renowned wine makers including Christophe Roumier and Marcel Guigal.
In 1997, Alex took over the winemaking role and continued his father’s quest to produce delicate, nuanced wines, even though the trend of the day was going towards richer, heavier styles. He converted all the fermentations to native yeasts and, with his fathers cooperation, began the conversion to Biodynamic farming, becoming Demeter certified in 2003. "I believe that an ecologically minded farming approach goes hand in hand with a gentle handed winemaking approach. My first priority in the vineyard is maintaining healthy soil, rich in organic matter, high in microbiological activity and avoiding soil compaction that inhibits the vines roots systems. I allow native, volunteer and some seeded plants to grow both under the vines and in rows, with the thought that a multitude of plants, having roots at various depths will promote both microbiological diversity and overall microbiological activity. In between parcels, I maintain large strips of undeveloped grass and woodland zones."
Winemaking: "I see winemaking simply as the completion of the growing process and my winemaking approach is best explained as “traditional old world.” I ferment all of the wines using native yeast and malolactic cultures. The red wines are hand punched down and we use an older manually controlled wine press. For white wines and rosé, the process is fairly straight forward. We whole-cluster press, then settle the juice overnight and then go into barrels in morning. The natural yeast and malolactic bacteria take over and do the work for us. The wine stays in the barrel until it is ready for bottling. I like the barrel fermented effect on these wines because of the slight breathing of the wood, the surface contact of the lees and natural temperature control that the small barrels offer."
"Red grapes are mostly destemmed, keeping as many whole berries as possible, and pass by gravity to the fermentation tanks, completely eliminating the need for pumps, conveyers, or augers commonly used at this point. Typically 20-30% of the Pinot Noir is retained as whole cluster, which prolongs the fermentation and adds a textural component to the wine. In red wine fermentation, important factors are the temperature of the grapes at harvest, temperature of fermentation, the type of tanks used, timing of punch downs and pump overs - I have basic guidelines of the use of these procedures based on what I observed in Burgundy and what I have seen here, working with the same vineyards for many years, but the exact path is ever changing. Based on daily tasting, I decide how to proceed. So each vineyard gets specialized treatment on every vintage. All bottling is done onsite with our own machine (of course using natural cork), so we can bottle when and how we want to. Labeling is done later, by hand. Customers are encouraged to further bottle age the wines, particularly the Pinot Noirs. While many California wines are designed to be at their peak upon release, I hold on to the old world notion that places a great deal of a wine’s merit on its age worthiness."
Wines listed below arrive on Tuesday, March 10th, except Old Vine Zinfandel which arrives later this week - normal case discounts apply.
And we invite you to join us on Tuesday, March 31st for a dinner and vertical tasting of Porter Creek Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with winemaker Alex Davis:
A Celebration of Porter Creek Vineyards With Proprietor/Winemaker Alex Davis and Pascaline Lepeltier, MS, Racines NY March 31. 2020
2018 Rosé “Old Vine” Mendocino County (Carignane/Zinfandel)
2017 Russian River Valley Chardonnay; 2016 Russian River Valley Chardonnay “George’s Hill” Old Vine; 2010 Russian River Valley Chardonnay; 2011 Russian River Valley Chardonnay “George’s Hill” Old Vine
2016 Russian River Valley Estate Pinot Noir; 2016 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir “Fiona Hill Vineyard;” 2011 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir “Winegrower’s Reserve”
2006 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir “Fiona Hill Vineyard;” 2003 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir “Reserve;” 1996 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir “Creekside Vineyard”
2015 Mendocino County Carignane “Old Vine;” 2016 Sonoma County Zinfandel “Old Vine”
$150 plus tax and gratuity
Racines NY Executive Chef Diego Moya
For reservations, click here
80% old vine Carignan from the Trimble vineyard in Mendocino and 20% Zinfandel from Porter Creek's own vineyards, this dry rose is one of my favorites of the summer. Crackling with acidity, bright fruit and a lovely seam of minerality on the nose, this wine is complex and hefty enough to pair with grilled meats and barbecue, while also having the snappy mouthwatering agility to be drunk as an aperitif. Winemaker Alex Porter always creates balanced wines, and this is no exception. All the fruit is dry-farmed, whole cluster pressed, and aged in neutral oak before bottling. Andrew Farquhar
Sourced from estate fruit and organically farmed vineyards in the Green Valley sub-AVA of Russian River. Elegantly textured, with stylish apple and pear fruit mixing with a hint of salinity and crushed oyster shells, this is a perfect companion for heavier seafood dishes, particularly anything involving lobster. Whole cluster pressed and aged for 11 months in 25% new French barrique. What impresses me most about this Chardonnay is its reserve. Medium-bodied, the oak shows itself more in its textural integration than on the palate. 450 cases produced.
Porter Creek offers the best of the Russian River Valley and proves why this AVA became so popular. The Estate bottling of Pinot Noir comes from their steep hillside vineyards farmed biodynamically by Alex Davis and family. The grapes are left about 20% whole cluster and then gently pressed, with punchdowns by hand, and then aged in oak barrels, ~25% new barrels are used to add a little "salt and pepper" as Alex would say. Though the nose is beautiful, it's all about the texture with this wine; silky and sensuous, with concentrated flavors of stewed cherry and blackberry, dried herbs, and forest floor, seasoned with clove and finishing with a lick of salty licorice. Drink this with roasted or seared salmon, or wild mushrooms to bring out the umami qualities of the wine! Michelle DeWyngaert
This bright, ripe, juicy old-vine Carignane is sourced from biodynamically farmed grapes from Mendocino County. Rich, rustic, and juicy, this is a perfect barbecue wine, as it has the tannins to compete with chargrilled meats but clocking in at only 13.3% alcohol. Quite plush, this wine has the extraordinary fruit concntration unique to old-vine Carignane. Carignane is traditionally considered to be a lighter grape, but in fact, at about fifty years of age it begins to concentrate rapidly, and these super-old vines create wines of stunning depth. This quixotic wine works just as well with a slight chill in the sun as with hearty beef stews. Enjoy! Andrew Farquhar
A classic example of Sonoma County Zinfandel. Aromatically, it has explosive cherries and berries, and on the palate it is rich and textured on the finish. Produced from hillside grown vines and blended with 5% Carignane for texture and overall harmony
Sourced from the estate's George's Hill vineyard, named in honor of founder George Davis who purchased the land in 1977, this biodynamically farmed vineyard site produces some of the most exciting Chardonnay in the entire Russian River. This wine is big on texture and has great aromatic power, with notes of green apple, almond, and darker mineral, oily, almost saline notes. On the palate this wine has great, peppy acidity, though it is not quite light-bodied. A certain breadth comes through on the palate, with ripe peach character filling out the back end as it slips into a long, softly nuanced finish that cycles between cream, citrus, and hazelnut. Tastes great now, but will continue to improve in the cellar for at least ten years. Andrew Farquhar
This is their flag ship Pinot Noir which comes from the steep hillside vineyard situated along Westside Road at the entrance of Porter Creek, which has ideal southern face. Hard clay top soil with a fractured stone bedrock place continual stress on these vines, resulting in a very expressive, unique vineyard designate wine. The nose has aromas of wild berries and forest floor, a weighty mid-palate and long silky finish.