Friday, January 25, 2008

Winery Watch: David Coffaro Wine

An ongoing series of Friday posts highlighting California family wineries. You might not be familiar with all of these vineyards and winemakers--yet--but they produce wines that speak with the voices of this state's people, places, and history. They are worth seeking out. These posts will be longer than most posts on the blog, but I hope you will find them perfect for leisurely weekend reading and internet browsing. To read previous posts in the series, click here.

If your image of a person who buys wine futures is limited to rich men in cravats smoking pipes and reviewing Bordeaux and Burgundy en primeur catalogues, think again. People like you and me buy futures, too, and some of these futures are purchased from a winery and estate vineyard in the Dry Creek Valley that was started by David and Pat Coffaro. If you've never heard of the David Coffaro Estate Vineyard, that may be because they produce only around 5000 cases a year, and sell the vast majority of their wine through the "Crazy Coffaro Futures Program." But if you are a fan of luscious blends and interesting grape varieties at attractive prices, you need to know about this cult favorite among California wineries. (picture of the 2007 Dry Creek Valley Passport Weekend at Coffaro, from David Caffaro Estate Vineyard).

The Coffaros came to the Dry Creek Valley in 1978, and began planting a wide variety of grapes in their estate vineyards. These included not only the more popular plantings in the area (like zinfandel) but some varieties that are just beginning to catch the American imagination (like the Portuguese grape varieties Touriga, Alvarelho, and Souzao) and those that have yet to make much of an impression here but are popular in Italy. To get some hint of the range of grapes Coffaro grows, here's a vineyard map (to enlarge, click on the vineyard map here).

When you visit Coffaro, the free-spirit shown in the futures program and the planting scheme for the vineyard is also found in the tasting room, which is where you can find wine barrels, art, sports memorabili, a sofa, and a wide-screen for broadcasting various things during Coffaro events. The tasting room is a bar with a kitchenette attached in the corner of this vast space. Not surprisingly, tastings at Coffaro are fun and low-key.

And what great things there are to taste. Below are some of the highlights of my trip to Coffaro in November. Coffaro wines can be found through some retailers, but the best selection can be had when dealing directly with the winery. I've indicated the retail price of the wine were you to purchase it through the winery. As always, the price you pay may be higher or lower.

2005 David Coffaro Fresco Dry Creek Valley ($22). This has all the flowery and spicy aromas of a Portuguese red table wine, which lead into a plate of red and black berries with more spicy accents. 36% Alvarelho, 34% Peloursin, and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Dry Creek Valley. Excellent QPR, and very interesting.

2006 David Coffaro Petite Sirah Dry Creek Valley ($28). Expressive petite sirah with aromas of cocoa, espresso, and cherry. 100% Petite Sirah, this has a good grip of tannins that hold on from the first sips of the wine all the way to the aftertase. A candidate for short-term cellaring, with very good QPR. (FYI: 2007 Petite Sirah futures available through 3/31/2008 for $17/bottle).

2005 David Coffaro Zinfandel Price Family Dry Creek Valley ($26). A meaty zinfandel, with aromas of thyme and blackberry, the flavor palate reminded me of lavender flowers and cherries. Lots of tannin thanks to the 13% tannat that has been blended in to the wine. A distinctive zin, and I suspect it will improve with age. Very good QPR.

2006 David Coffaro Carignane Dry Creek Valley ($25). A spicy red with good acidity and a nice meatiness. Blackberry fruit notes predominate the aromas and flavors, with spice coming into the finish. Good QPR. (FYI: 2007 Carignane futures available through 3/31/2008 for $17/bottle).

2005 David Coffaro Sangiovese Alexander Valley ($26). There is nice spice in this sangiovese, along with varietally typical cherry flavors and aromas. Smooth and balanced, with good and medium/heavy body. Good QPR.

If you buy more than 2 cases from any single vintage, you are eligible to join the Vintage Circle for Coffaro regulars that earns you a $2 discount per bottle on all futures, and 30% off of all bottled wines. Coffaro points out that this is not a wine club, but a way of saying "thank you" to their regular customers.

Should your travel plans take you to the Dry Creek Valley, be sure to stop in at Coffaro and have a taste of their wines. My guess is you will leave clutching all the information on the Coffaro Crazy Futures program.


Anonymous said...

Hey Dr Debs
thanks for the info on Coffaro, it looks like a very fun, inviting environment to enjoy and learn about wine. I have added them to my list of places to visit when we head to Northern California in November this year for our wine touring.

See ya

Richard Auffrey said...

I am also a big fan of the Coffaro wines. In addition to those wines you mentioned, I also enjoyed the David Coffaro Estate Cuvee Dry Creek Valley Red Wine and David Coffaro Escuro (with Portuguese varietals. They are definitely good value wines.

Orion Slayer said...

I looked up the Dry Creek Valley on Appellation America. It said that "Sauvignon Blanc is the valley's signature white grape." There is a tiny sliver on the vineyard map for SB. Does David Coffaro make an SB and have you tried it?

Dr. Debs said...

You'll have a great time, John, and maybe you'll get to taste the wines Richard talks about, which weren't being poured when I was there. OrionSlayer, I didn't have an SB--they were pouring all reds when I was there--and I'm not even sure that they make an SB stand-alone. You may be able to find more information on their web site.

Sonadora said...

Ah, we visited here, a very different kind of place. We really liked the Terre Melange, which I think we still have a bottle of hanging around!

Anonymous said...

IMO, blends are what separates Coffaro from the rest of the pack. Their Block 4 is my favorite. How could a wine not be good with 5 listed varieties composing 90% and the remaining 10% as "other varieties"?

Great post on a truly unique winery.