The good times roll at Dry Creek Valley winery’s online tastings.
Leave it to Flambeaux Wine, a Sonoma County winery with deep New Orleans roots, to turn shelter-in-place virtual tastings into actual parties, complete with Mardi Gras beads. During the pandemic, Flambeaux’s Instagram Live events took place every other Thursday. Featured guests included chef Joaquin Rodas of Bacchanal Wine and The Elysian Bar in New Orleans, who did a cooking display, pairing his plate with a Flambeaux wine. On May 14th, 2020, I chatted with vintner Art Murray about the wines, winery, and Flambeaux’s estate vineyard in the Dry Creek Valley.
Mardi Gras Trio
For the IG event, I recommended the easy-to-order Mardi Gras Trio of Rosé, Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, and (lead photo) the fabulous estate 2017 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. In April 2020, chef Rodas paired his dish with the 2015 Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which received high praise and scores from the West Coast to Louisiana. You had to be a club member to purchase this library wine, but the 2016 vintage, itself a winner (see tasting notes below) was available to all.
The Zin and the Cab come from the estate Flambeaux Vineyard, up a hillside 4 miles northwest of Healdsburg. Ryan Prichard, whose day job is at Sonoma’s prestigious Three Sticks Wines, has been crafting the Flambeaux lineup since the winery’s inception.
Below are a few observations about the Mardi Gras Trio, followed by thoughts about the 2016 Cabernet.
2018 Flambeaux Sonoma County Rosé: Packing the punch one might expect of a blend of hillside Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, this rosé that smells just like summer is clean, crisp, and surprisingly light on its feet. The wine’s acidity makes it work but doesn’t call attention to itself.
2017 Flambeaux Sonoma Coast Chardonnay: Grapes from two vineyards owned by the Sangiacomo family, longtime Sonoma County growers, go into this Chardonnay noteworthy for its balance and grace.
2017 Flambeaux Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel: The acidity, darker-fruit notes, and wisp of cocoa rank high among this fabulous Zin’s many charms. Prichard makes several Pinot Noirs for Three Sticks. From this wine’s color, it looks as though it might be a Pinot guy’s Zin, but this one is robust, sexy, and true to its varietal.
2016 Flambeaux Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Much of what makes Flambeaux’s Zinfandel so appealing applies equally well to this Cabernet from the same vineyard, though its iron-laden soils assert themselves more in the Cab than the Zin. The complexity impresses, as do the slightly spicy tannins.
You can still book a virtual tasting online, but nowadays the winery also offers the Flambeaux Agricultural Experience, which takes place at the estate vineyard, and two Flambeaux wines are always poured at Region Sonoma wine bar in Sonoma.
This story, which originally appeared in 2020, was updated in 2023.