Visiting David Coffaro

Time for me to get around to writing up our visits to vineyards during our April trip to Northern CA! Sadly, I didn’t remember to take my camera out much on this trip, so pictures are pretty limited. But the wines are still well worth talking about. We make it a point to swing by David Coffaro whenever we are in the area. We first encountered David Coffaro 6 years ago on our honeymoon and have been buying wine futures there ever since. Good thing we stopped by this time as they kindly reminded us we had yet to pick up our futures from 2 years ago. We got to do a bit of barrel tasting of some of the futures we bought for the 2011 vintage as well as a couple wines already in bottle.

2009 Terre Melange $30: very spicy, peppery, red fruit, cherry, raspberry, strawberry.

2009 Zinfandel $30: chocolate, pepper, blueberry, blackberry, black cherry, spice.

2009 Petite Sirah $30: very dark fruit, earth, spice, blackberry, pepper, cocoa.

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon $38: very tannic, red fruit, red currants, dark strawberry, dark berries, spice.

2009 Block 4 $38: mint, spice, black raspberry, black cherry, earth.

I didn’t take any notes on the barrel samples, but my notebook is covered with red circles as a reminder of them! Be sure to check out David Coffaro if you are in Dry Creek Valley. Buying futures from the winery has been one of the most cost effective ways I’ve stocked my cellar full of wine.


The Kitchen Sink

Well, not really, but close. Actually, David Coffaro does make another blend that might as well be called the kitchen sink since it contains a little bit of every wine they produce. This one, on the other hand, is a field blend, the 2007 David Coffaro Block 4. David Coffaro has some of those cool old vineyards where lots of different varieties are planted all together. This particular Block 5 field blend contains 50% Zinfandel, 25% Petite Sirah, 9% Carignan, 8% Syrah, and 8% Peloursin. It clocked in at 15.6% alcohol by volume, and like all Coffaro’s wines, it had a screw cap closure. I bought this in a an order of futures, so I’m going to venture to guess I paid around $12-$14 for it. (I say it year in and year out, but ordering futures from David Coffaro is one of the most economical ways for me to get some really good wines into my basement.)

On the nose I got blackberry, blueberry, milk chocolate, cinnamon, pepper, and an herbal note. In the mouth, more blueberry, spice, blackberry, cinnamon, pepper, cranberry, and other dark fruit. The palate had a great spicyness too it along with being juicy juicy juicy. This one went down really easily.

I See the Future

And the future is at David Coffaro.  In more ways than one.  Good wine, great prices, hilarious place.  Everything is bottled under screw cap for quite a few years now.  Oh, the barrel tasting!  I love it!!  As I’ve mentioned before, Coffaro sells most of his wine through his futures program.  The deals can’t be beat in my opinion.  Since I’m a club member, I get $3 off each bottle before it’s bottled, which results in tremendous savings.  I’m even thinking about buying 2009 futures without tasting…I’ve been pretty darn impressed with everything I’ve tasted, so I think I’m willing to take a risk and order…for around $12 a bottle, you can’t beat it!

We stopped by David Coffaro on our second full day in the area.  It topped my list of must visits as I wanted to secure my case of 2008 futures.  (Speaking of, I just finally opened my 2007 futures case and put it into our racks today!)  Plus, we wanted to go see Steve again, our friend from our visit last year since he needed a new picture of himself up here on the ol’ wine blog.  We tasted through the wines in barrel and had a few other things too when David Coffaro himself poked his head in.

2008 Fresco Dry Creek Valley Rosé: (In bottle.) Lime, cherry, strawberry, bright fruit, plum, strawberry, crisp, nice round, cherry. Merlot/Mourvedre blend.

The following are all in barrel:

2008 Zinfandel: Spice, herbs, dark, meaty, dark berries, vanilla, brown sugar, cherries, red berries, very nice.  Two bottles went into our futures case at $15 each.

2008 My Zin: 77% Zinfandel/23% Petite Sirah.  Dark fruit, blackberry, black currants, white pepper, tart fruit, spicy, peppery. One bottle went into our futures case at $15.

2008 Block 4: 50% Zinfandel/25% Petite Sirah/5% Peloursin/5% Syrah/5% Carginan/10% other. Chocolate, spice, pepper, brown sugar, milk chocolate, blueberry, red berries. We put 2 bottles into our futures case at $17 a bottle.

2008 Carignan: Black currants, plums, spice, spicy, pepper, red fruit in the mouth. Currently selling for $18.

2008 Estate Cuvee: Blueberry, brown sugar, spice, pepper, tart fruit, red in mouth, currants.

2008 Terre Melange: 50% Mourvedre/39% Peloursin/11% Grenache. Boysenberry, bright fruit, red fruit, red berries, blue fruit, tannins. We put one bottle into our case at $15.

2008 Escuro: 30% Petite Sirah/22% Lagrein/12% Tannat/9% Aglianico/9% Touriga/9% Souzao/9% Alvarelhao. Dark, spice, chocoalte, port like, raisins, blue fruit, dark, blac, blackberries, juicy, tannic.  We took 2 bottles for our case at $15 a bottle. (4 new grapes in this one! Up to 91 grapes now!!)

2008 Ultimate Cuvee: 44% Petite Sirah26% Zinfandel/8% Lagrein/7% Tannat/5% Carignan/5% Peloursin/5% Syrah.  Chocolate, tea, blueberries, red edges, nice berries, tannic, dark, so young! We put 1 bottle in our case at $21.

2008 Petite Sirah: Caramel, blue fruit, chocolate, lovely blue fruit, dark, yummy, red fruit, tannic. We took 3 bottles into our case at $15 a bottle.

In bottle:

2006 Escuro: 36% Cabernet Sauvignon/30% Tannat/20% Petite Sirah/14% Petite Verdot. Strawberry, rspberry, red fruit, spice, white pepper, chocolate syrup, darker in the mouth, blue, red berries, tannic.

2006 Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: $26. Strawberry, mint, herbs, dark, tannic, dark in the mouth, drying, blackberries, earthy, long fruit, needs a steak!

WBW 57- California Inspiration


Yes folks, it is once again that time of month–Wine Blogging Wednesday!  Our host this month is Jeff of Good Grape.  In honor of the first anniversary of the passing of Robert Mondavi, a legend in his own right and certainly a “California wine inspiration,” Jeff tasked us with picking our own California Inspiration.  A California wine that made us sit up and take notice, that inspired us. You can read all the details here.

When I first read the assignment, I jumped for joy.  This would be easy.  California was my wine inspiration.  It moved me away from straight Riesling and mostly white wines and into the deep dark world of red wines.  Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Syrah enticed me…and from there…Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Mourvedre….just a long downward spiral that resulted in…at last count about 300ish bottles of red wine in my basement.

Then I actually sat down to try to figure out what wine to try and write about.  I thought about the wine that made my head turn.  But I couldn’t pinpoint it to a specific wine.  As I’ve written before, my first red wine love, which came from California, is Zinfandel.  I couldn’t and can’t get enough of it.  There’s more Zin in my basement than any other variety.  It’s too obvious though. I’ve written that story before. So I decided to tell a different story. Of how love and wine are so intermingled in my mind that I often have trouble separating the two.  My husband and I fell in love sharing bottles of wine over movies together in college, over dinners where we splurged and went to the fancy steakhouse and ordered a bottle of wine, and over weekends spent together where the usual long distance (close to 1200 miles) didn’t seem too far as long as we had some laughs and some wine, particularly one where a hurricane and no power for 5 days wasn’t so bad since we had plenty of wine, candles, and Scrabble.

On our honeymoon.

On our honeymoon.

We eventually headed to Sonoma for our honeymoon. It was there we first discovered the real joy of visiting vineyards (though we’d been to many through the years in other states) and red wine.  It is that trip that inspired my choice for this WBW.  When we got married, I was just over 2 weeks out from taking the bar exam, I’d moved my stuff 3 hours north to what would be our new apartment, and I was burnt out in every possible sense of the expression.  For once in my life, I didn’t micro-manage, and I didn’t really plan. I figured, we were headed to Sonoma, there simply was no way the trip could go wrong.  And I was right.  We knew pretty much nothing other than the fact that we really liked wine and we had a cute B&B to stay at.  And that was fine with me.  I chose this particular wine, not because of the actual wine, but because of the producer. It is one we’ve returned time and again to visit, always enjoying the wines, joining the club, and consistently buying futures. Our first visit in 2006 probably could be credited with our love of red wine as it was the first place we bought red on the trip (granted, it was only our second stop of the very first day…!).

I’m speaking of David Coffaro, a winery you’ve seen frequently on these pages.  While we didn’t have any of the 2003 Terre Melange or the 2005 My Zin left that we purchased on our honeymoon trip, we did just receive our case of 2007 futures this fall.  So I chose a bottle from that collection.  It didn’t really matter which bottle I chose. For me, this WBW isn’t really about that one singular wine–it can’t be. Wine, and particularly California wine, is the story of my adult years, and an integral part of the 8 years Matt and I have been together.  From the nearly 500 bottles of wine in our basement (about 80% California!) to the cork board made of corks in our kitchen to this wine blog that was entirely inspired by small California wineries, it’s difficult to extract wine from the whole.

I eventually decided on the 2007 David Coffaro Estate Cuvée.  You can read my quick initial assessment of this wine here.  It had a screw cap closure, cost us $17 at the future price, and clocked in at 15.3% alcohol by volume.  The wine is a blend of 33% Zinfandel, 33% Spicy Cabernet, 25% Carignan, and 9% Peloursin.

On the nose I found smoky aromas, followed by chocolate, anise, blackberries, black cherry, campfire, brown sugar, cranberry, and pencil shavings.  On the initial attack, the wine showed all fresh rip sun kissed blackberries as I poured it into my glass.  In the mouth I got black fruit, black cherries, blackberries, spice, pepper, star anise, cranberry, red raspberries, and chocolate on the finish.  I kept remarking all night about how fresh and juicy the fruit on this wine showed.  I loved it.  We have two more bottles in our basement, and while they might have some room left to mellow a bit more, I’m loving the way it was drinking now.  Matt and I were each eying the bottle, not wanting to miss out on our share!

In the end, California wine inspired me.  While I always enjoyed experimenting with new wines, before our California trip I remained solidly in the “I prefer white wines” camp.  It turns out, I just wasn’t drinking the right red wines.  In California, I found a world of possibilities…producers who made tiny lots of parcel specific Zinfandels, blends with everything and the kitchen sink, and new grapes I hadn’t yet fallen in love with, but can’t imagine not having access to now.

Many thanks to Jeff of Good Grape for the theme, and I hope you don’t mind the liberties I’ve taken with it! And as always, a virtual tip of the hat to our founder Lenn over at Lenndevours.  Looking forward to seeing the round up on this theme and I will notify you when it’s up!

Sprightly Sauvignon Blanc

On our second full day in Sonoma we went by David Coffaro to do some barrel tasting so we could decide what to put in our futures case this year. I’ll do a full write up on that later. I’ve always liked David Coffaro’s Sauvignon Blanc, and with the gorgeous weather we were treated to in California I wanted nothing more than a crisp, cool Sauvignon Blanc to sip when we got back to our Bed and Breakfast. Ask and you shall receive! Steve kindly provided us with a bottle to enjoy later!

The 2007 David Coffaro Sauvignon Blanc clocks in at 14.4% alcohol by volume and has a screw-cap closure like all current Coffaro releases.  I want to say it retails for around $17, but to be honest, I don’t know for sure.  We enjoyed our bottle after a nice soak in the hot tub at our B&B, followed by watching the Princess Bride.

On the nose I got grass, grapefruit, lemon white grapefruit, bell pepper, and lime.  In the mouth I found lots of citrus, lemon grass, a hint of bell pepper, white grapefruit, wet stone, sweet peach, orange blossom, and tangerine.  My notes actually track fairly well with the notes I took last spring while tasting at the winery…I love when that happens!

Overall, this Sauvignon Blanc is perfect for a hot (summer) day.  We got lucky with the weather and experienced mostly mid-80s on our whole trip, so this wine was just what the doctor ordered after a a traipsing around wine Country!  It is crisp, with lip-smacking acidity, just what I love in a Sauvignon Blanc!

Futures Buying & Tasting

Last year on our Sonoma trip, we had the fun and pleasure of barrel tasting at David Coffaro Winery.  I’d never barrel tasted before this trip, but I certainly made up for during that trip and since.  I’ve decided that it’s tons of fun and educational to be able to taste the wine while it’s still developing in the barrel.  At Coffaro last year we probably tasted about 10 wines in barrel (you can read about that here) and purchased a case of wine that arrived this past November.

Now, here’s the beauty of buying wine before it’s bottled: Wineries who offer this option tend to discount the wine a bit, so you can end up paying quite a lot less for a lot more wine! Last year we walked away with a case of great wine, including taxes, for $213.  This year, if they’ll let us barrel taste again, we’ll get an even better deal as I’ve joined up with Coffaro’s new club. (Hey folks at Coffaro, I’m coming by on Thursday afternoon….any chance I can barrel taste? 😉 )

I know some of my wine blog buddies had a blast at barrel tasting weekend(s) in Sonoma recently and scored some excellent deals.  I’d love to make it out for barrel tasting some year so I could participate in the buying bonanza.  You should go read about their adventures here, here, here, and here.

So tell me about your experiences barrel tasting or buying futures! Good, bad, or indifferent?  I’ve noticed in the last year or so that many of the wineries that send me email (and that’s quite a few….) have been offering futures. It’s not something I had picked up on before, so it has me thinking.  Would you buy futures without tasting the wine? Being on the East Coast, it’s not really all that practical for me to be able to go to the wineries to taste and decide, so I’m torn as to whether buying sight taste unseen is a good move for me. I suppose if it’s a winery I’ve been familiar with over the years it wouldn’t be such a risk, one would hope.

A 2nd Look

I first reviewed this wine nearly 2 years ago. You can read that review here. At the time I said I wanted to hang onto the bottle for another year or so and see what it was like then. As luck would have it, moves and multiple rearranging projects in our basement kept this one hidden for nearly 2 years. We purchased the 2003 David Coffaro Terre Melange on our first trip to Sonoma in August, 2006. It cost us $24 at the time, clocked in at 13.9% alcohol by volume, and had a plastic cork closure. Terre Melange is a blend of 41% Carignan, 26% Peloursin, 26% Syrah, and 7% Mourvedre. We last drank this wine on December 3, 2006.

On the nose, I first found some funk that blew off within a few minutes. I got aromas of eucalyptus, red fruit, currants, sour cherries, some berries. Overall, I found it a bit funky throughout, something like a Cabernet Sauvignon, but there’s no Cab in this blend. I found red currants, sour cherries, raspberries, and a bit of spice in the mouth. The fruit was quite tart and nicely integrated. The finish was long and smooth, quite different from the last time we drank this bottle.

The overall feel of the wine was quite a bit darker than I expected, especially since I found mostly red fruit flavors and aromas. I served it with BBQ ribs and my own take on a Caprese salad with cherry tomatoes and basil from our garden.

Bye Bye Until the Fall

::cries:: This was my last bottle of David Coffaro wine until the fall when my futures case arrives. I wish I could have brought home more, but with the futures case and the 2 bottles I did bring home, I already bought 14 bottles which was more than double the number I bought at any other winery on our trip!

The wine of the evening was a 2005 David Coffaro Zinfandel. I did bring home two bottles of this, but I had purchased one with the intent of giving it to my neighbors as a thank you gift for taking in our mail while we were gone…so it was the only bottle I had for my personal consumption! I purchased this wine at the winery for $26, it had a screw cap closure like all of David Coffaro’s wines, and it clocked in at 15.2% alcohol by volume.

On the nose I found vanilla, blackberry, cedar, oak, and espresso. It needed a bit of time to open up, so I was glad I unscrewed it a bit before dinner! In the mouth the wine showed black cherry and blackberry, with a little bit of spice and oak. The fruit tasted very fresh and juicy, I loved this bottle of win.

I served the wine with grilled marinated chicken (I promise it just looks burnt, the marinade crisps up like that!), rice pilaf, and corn on the cob. It worked because the chicken was kind of a heavier dish and had a lot of flavor from being marinated, plus, this was a giant knock you down kind of Zinfandel.

(See the pretty flowers Matt brought me?)

Purchasing Futures

On our 3rd and last day tasting on our recent CA trip, we met up with Russ the Winehiker at Bella first thing in the morning (more on Bella later.) We enticed Russ (well, really, it didn’t take much arm twisting….) to come out with us for a few stops on Wednesday before he had to head back home by dangling Bella and David Coffaro as stops in front of him!

Our second stop of the day was at David Coffaro. Three other people were at the tasting bar when we sidled up and I whipped out my notebook and started writing. Steve, who was pouring our tasting, took a look and decided I looked serious, so grabbed a wine thief and offered us a barrel tasting. Apparently this was to be the trip of barrel tasting! We tasted everything David Coffaro had in barrels and purchased a case of futures which will be bottled later this year and shipped to us when we decide the weather is good enough!

David Coffaro sells the vast majority of his wines through his futures program, so you pretty much have to go to the winery to get your hands on any of them. However, I promise you, it is worth your time to stop. I’ve found the wines to be excellent values over the years, especially if you purchase in futures as the prices go up the closer he gets to releasing the wines! Also note, all the wines are bottled under screw caps, but as I can attest to, having a couple of 2003s still hanging out in the basement, the screw caps work just fine.

The following were all barrel tastings. Picture above is Steve posing for me between barrels….I warned him it would appear here!

2007 Zinfandel: Price now: $17. Price on release: $26. 83% Zinfandel, 17% Spicy Cabernet. 590 cases. Vanilla, blackberry, dark fruit.

2007 My Zin: Price now: $17. Price on release: $26. 75% Zinfandel, 14% Tannic Cabernet, 11% Petite Sirah. 610 Cases. Blackberry, black cherry, vanilla, tart, slight red fruit.

2007 Estate Cuvee: Price now: $17. Price on release: $26. 465 cases. 33% Zinfandel, 33% Spicy Cabernet, 25% Carignan, 9% Peloursin. Dark oak, berries, red fruit. We loved this one and put 3 bottles in our futures case.

2007 Terre Melange: Price now: $17. Price on release: $25. 365 cases. 49% Peloursin, 29% Mourvedre, 17$ Syrah, 5% Grenache. Leather, a little earth, red berries, still prickly from fermenting!

2007 Carignan: Price now: $17. Price on release: $25. 270 cases. 100% Carignan. Blueberries, vanilla, a touch of red fruit.

2007 Escuro: Price now: $17. Price on release: $25. 500 cases. 35% Petite Verdot, 33% Petite Sirah, 32% Cabernet. Chocolate, pepper, dark berries, spice, tannic, a dark wine.

2007 Block 4: Price now: $19. Price on release: $32. 765 cases. Field blend: 50% Zinfandel, 25% Petite Sirah, 5% Peloursin, 5% Syrah, 5% Carignan, 10% other. Chocolate, cherries, blueberries, pepper. 3 bottles made it into out case.

2007 Aca Modot: Price now: $19. Price on release: $32. 525 cases. 38% Cabernet, 21% Petite Verdot, 18% Malbec, 16% Cab Franc, 7% Merlot. Barny, leather, saddle, red berries, very Bordeaux-like.

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon: Price now: $18. Price on release: $28. 185 cases. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Smells very good, red strawberry, red berries, still a bit prickly, but great. 3 bottles made our case.

2007 Petite Sirah: Price now: $17. Price on release: $26. 335 cases. 100% Petite Sirah. Blueberry pie, vanilla, pepper, earth, very good. 3 bottles went into our case.

The whole case ran us $213. If we had been able to pull off a second case of futures (which I really really wanted to do) we could have had the whole case for $201 as the deal at David Coffaro is that if you buy 2 cases of futures you are in the Circle and get $2 off on all futures and 30% off on bottled wine, which applies to the next two vintages after you by your first two cases. Maybe on the next trip! This was our second visit to David Coffaro and I will certainly be stopping by again. The wine are consistently excellent and I highly recommend them.

Already in bottles we tasted:

2005 Zinfandel: $26. Old vines (really old, planted in the 1890s!). Smoky, chocolate, blackberries, a bit of reddish fruit, tart. Took home two bottles, one for us and one for our neighbors who kindly took in our mail for us while we were gone.

2005 Escuro: $26. Strawberry, herby leather, blueberries.

2006 Fresco: 22% Alvarelhao, 21% Tempranillo, 21% Tinto Cao, 20% Peloursin, 16% Carignan. Cedar, big berries, red fruit, mint.

2005 Petite Sirah: Blueberry cream, pie, tasty, one of my favorites. I wanted to take more home, of this in particular, but Matt was giving me the: it’s only noon and you’ve already bought enough wine look…

2007 Sauvignon Blanc: Only tasted this briefly before we were whisked away for a barrel tasting, but this was my kind of Sauvignon Blanc. Green pepper, grapefruit, tart, crisp, lip smacking acidity.

We walked away from David Coffaro with purple lips and stained teeth, but having tasted some great wine. I am very much looking forward to my futures case arriving in the mail and I will of course post reviews of those bottles as we consume them. It’ll be fun to see how the bottled wine compares to my (brief) barrel notes!

"My Zin"

It’s been a bit of zinfandel couple of weeks for us. Our weather is a little kooky these days (73 one day and ice and snow the next) so I’m not sure how many more weeks of “big red” wine drinking we’re going to get. Though I am looking forward to a return to some light whites and roses (not that I really laid off them too much this winter) with spring just around the corner!

We drank this 2005 David Coffaro “My Zin” with some pasta and homemade tomato sauce, sprinkled with fresh parmasean. It cost us $26.00 at Coffaro last summer, was 15% alcohol by volume and had a screw-cap closure. This is an unfiltered/unfined wine.

On those nose I found currants, spicy oak (does that even make any sense?) and blackberries. The wine was a bit hot to start with. The alcohol is big on the nose, but it quickly blows off. In the mouth it shows smoothly after letting it sit for a few minutes. The taste is of blackberries and spice. After an hour or so I get a little chocolate and earth showing in the glass.

This wine worked well with our dinner because it tend to make a sweeter tomato sauce and the spiciness of the wine was a good complement to the sweet sauce flavors.