The Wine Country Online

Expressive Red Wine

Introducing Amphora Wines and Winemaker Rick Hutchinson

The last time we had an Italian Dip Sandwich picnic we called our friend Rick Hutchinson. Rick has recently made the move from being a winery employee to winery owner/winemaker. In 1997, he established Amphora Winery and began hand-making the delicious and expressive red wines of Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley.

Last February 23rd, we had a terrific rainy-day picnic with Rick and he brought along a bottle of 1998 "Mounts Vineyards" Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. I can tell you that this well-balanced wine, with its deep round fruit and distinct celebration of classic white pepper highlights, was the perfect accompaniment to the spicy sausages and tomato sauce. The combination of wine and food produced such a level of mirth that we all agreed: This is the sort of activity that should be scheduled regularly!

With a total production from the 1998 vintage of only 77 cases of this exceptional wine, you might want to get yourself directly to a phone and give Rick a call to see if you can get in on this fleeting opportunity.

1998 Mounts Vineyard Zinfandel   Dry Creek Valley
Varietal: 75% Zinfandel, 25% Petite Sirah
Appellation: Mounts Vineyard, Dry Creek Vineyard
Production: 77 cases
Harvest: September 12, 1998
Fermentation:   Pushdown method in one-ton open-top fermenters
Barrel Aging: 33% in new French oak and the remainder in one-year-old American oak
Winemaker's Notes: This wine was hand harvested from 35- to 40-year-old head-pruned vines from Mounts Vineyard on the west side of Dry Creek Valley.

Deep red in color, the nose offers aromas of plums, black cherry and oak. This wine displays the true characteristics of Dry Creek Valley Zinfandels: spicy, intense flavors of white pepper, cinnamon, strawberry and red currant, judiciously blended with well-balanced oak. The middle palate offers incredible strawberry jam flavors combined with vanillin and milk chocolate.

This unfined, unfiltered wine is ready to drink, but would benefit from another year or two in the bottle. The intense flavors will stand up well to dishes such as Jambalaya, beef stew or flourless chocolate cake.

Rick Hutchinson
Amphora Wines
Healdsburg, CA
Telephone (707) 431-7767; Fax (707) 431-0258

Rick's wines are also featured at a number of local restaurants:

Santa Rosa:

135 Fourth

205 Fifth
Restaurant Charcuterie
335 Healdsburg Ave.
117 North St.
Bistro Ralph
109 Plaza St.
The All Seasons Café
1400 Lincoln
San Francisco:
246 McAllister
(Civic Center Area)