Dry Falls Cellars Reserve Petit Verdot
March 30, 2011 by Doug Haugen
In the summer of 2008, we took a whirlwind tour of North Central Washington wine country, reporting back on the tasting room experience, and we were surprised and happy to find two wineries in the outskirts of my home town of Moses Lake. One of these was Dry Falls Cellars, a small family-owned and operated winery making a large portfolio of elegant, well-structured wines, and pouring them in a swank little tasting room at their facility on 22nd Avenue. (The second of the two was Kyra Wines.)
While we were there, we toured the well-appropriated production facility, chatted with the great folks in the tasting room, and tasted through the wines before being invited to do a barrel tasting, which included a small batch of Petit Verdot. At the time, they weren’t really sure what they were going to do with it, but it was tasting so good in the barrel, they were really excited by it. After tasting it, we got excited, too–like kids with their first mouthfuls of cotton candy at a carnival.
I revisited the winery a few weeks ago, and tasted through the whole lineup again. A majority of DFC’s wines are surprisingly elegant, clean and nuanced, while a couple of them (like the Big Rack Red) were big, powerful and masculine. The Old Vine Chardonnay, is unlike any chard I’ve ever had.
What I didn’t get to try in the tasting room was the 2008 Reserve Petit Verdot, but I bought a bottle without hesitation, because I wanted to see how the program had developed after our barrel tasting nearly three years ago.
Petit Verdot is a powerful fruit, and on a global scale, is rarely bottled as a single varietal. It’s typically used to beef up blends, adding dense fruit, dark color, powerful flavors, and heavy tannins; but we’re starting to see growing popularity of PV as a stand-alone. In my mind, it’s an exciting development.
Dry Falls Cellars’ 2008 Reserve Petit Verdot is sourced from Lonesome Spring Ranch in the Yakima Valley, just outside of Benton City. According to winemaker Jim Englar, the fermentation was performed in stainless steel with minimal crush, hand punching, and minor whole fruit carbonic maceration before being gently bladder pressed. Malolactic fermentation was done in barrel after fermentation, followed by twenty-six months in French oak. Only thirty cases were produced of this Petit Verdot.
The nose on this PV elicited an immediate, “Whoa.” Savory and meaty with candied fig and ripe, dark fruit like black plumb and blackberries, the Cyrano de Bergerac nose gave every indication of what we were in for.
On the palate, the Petit Verdot delivered smoked and seasoned meat, leather, black cherry, cranberry and ripe raspberry. Cigar box characteristics showed through with tobacco and cedar, no doubt due to the twenty-six months in French oak. That being said, it’s not over-oaked, and the wood is complementary. And while PV is often rustic and rough like a posse of gunslingers at last call in the local saloon, DFC’s Petit Verdot is more like a gentle giant. With such robust aromas and flavors, it’s a surprisingly medium-bodied wine with a great acid backbone and a velvety texture that doesn’t make you feel like your teeth are wearing sweaters. Well-integrated and tasty, this PV is a crowd-pleaser with a wow-factor that begs for a second glass.
Which is exactly what we did. Then a third.
Dry Falls Cellars’ Petit Verdot is a delicious, fun, really enjoyable bottle of vino, and showcases well how the PV beast can be tamed.