2008 Dutch Bill Creek Winery Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Mission Codename: Aromatisch

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Send Agent Red to Dutch Bill Creek Wines, whose grapes are grown by the Heintz family, a Wine Spies Operative favorite. Sample their estate-grown Pinot Noir and, if the wine meets our strict quality standards, secure an ample allotment for our Pinot-loving Operatives.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Dutch Bill Creek Wines

Wine Subject: 2008 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

Winemaker: Kevin Kelley

Backgrounder: Today’s wine hails from Heintz Ranch Vineyards, under their original label, Dutch Bill Creek Wines. This label was created in recognition of one of the early settlers of the town of Occidental, CA, named William “Dutch Bill” Howard and the creek that was later named after him. Heintz continues the tradition of crafting fine wines under this label – crafted from Heitz family estate fruit.

The list of wineries that purchase wines from Heintz Ranch Vineyards grapes is as long as it is impressive. The list includes a Who’s Who of award-winning, ultra-premium wine producers. Littorai, Oren Swift, Williams-Selyem, Suacci-Carciere and many others prize Heintz grapes for their superior quality. Today’s wine is made by Heintz from select Heintz Pinot Noir grapes.

If you loved the Heitz wine that we have previously featured, we assure you that you’ll love today’s just as much.

Varietal Backgrounder: The Russian River Valley, in Sonoma County, produces Pinot Noir of remarkable distinction. The cooler maritime conditions of the region make the RRV ideal for growing Pinot Noir. The Russian River Valley in Sonoma is particularly well suited to producing exceptional Pinot Noir. This AVA was officially designated in 1983, but many of the wines in the region used the designation as early as the 1970s (early in California’s wine history) with the many of the vines having been first planted in the early 1900s. Read Agent Red’s mission report and tasting notes below for the full intel on this exciting wine.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – When viewed from the side, the wine shows an evenly concentrated dark red ruby hue. Viewed from the top – or when spinning – the wine shows more pinkish hues. At the edge of the glass, a thick band of pink encircles the wine. After swirling, skinny legs form high up on the glass, the run slowly down.

Smell – Bright Bing cherry, earthy raspberry, bramble and strawberry take a boldly aromatic lead. Add to these, follow-on aromas of brown tobacco, gunpowder and bacon.

Feel – very smooth and light on entry, this wine shows almost no weight – at first. As the wine crosses to the mid-palate, a medium weight and bright acidity settle in. After swallowing, finely integrated tannins drive a soft, crushed velvet feel around the palate.

Taste – Sweet Bing cherry, young strawberry and raspberry are the bold, sweet, initial flavors. These are closely followed by blackberry bramble, fig red plum skin and hints of tobacco leaf, rose petal and subtlest cinnamon.

Finish – Very long with lingering red fruit. The Bing cherry and strawberry really hang on for a long time, and are then replaced by dried rose petal and a hint of cinnamon at the tip of the tongue. As flavors fade, the wines bright acidity causes the mouth to water, reminding you to take another long sip.

Conclusion – This 2008 Dutch Bill Creek Winery Pinot Noir is fantastic, bright, juicy, delicious wine. Our tasting panel absolutely loved it, praising its tender mouthfeel and bright red fruit profile. We were not surprised, for every wine that hails from Henitz’ vineyards has been superb to our palates, this year. If you are a fan of juicy, fruit-forward Pinot Noir, this is an easy choice. And, while the fruit is certainly delicious, the more earthen flavors of the wine give it lovely balance. The wine shows off the terroir of the Russian River Valley, and the superb fruit of the vineyards. Oh, yeah. Let’s not forget the considerable skills of winemaker, Keven Kelley! Drinking beautifully now, this wine has the potential to progress over the next few years. We love this Pinot Noir as a Summertime wine, but our Fall holiday tables will also certainly see a few bottles on it, later this year. We think this wine will be the perfect compliment to a Turkey or Goose dinner.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Kevin Kelley


CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Winemaker for Heintz , Dutch Bill Creek, Salinia and The NPA.

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Provide a clean safe environment for mother nature to work her magic.

WINEMAKER QUOTE: You can’t improve upon nature so don’t try.



AGENT RED: Greetings, Kevin. We are thrilled to be showing your wine today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

KEVIN KELLEY: My Pleasure.

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

KEVIN: In High School I read a book called “Like Modern Edens” by Charles Sullivan that was about the beginning of grape growing and winemaking in California. I was so enthralled by it that I read another wine book and then another. I was hooked and the path was laid out in front of me. At the time I didn’t know that Charles Sullivan was the same Mr. Sullivan that was teaching English at my High School.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

KEVIN: I find a huge amount of inspiration from the generational passing down of the winemaking craft. I did not have that because I did not come from a winemaking family and we have very little of here in California. There are a few pockets in the world that have been making wine the same way for generations, parts of Slovenia and Croatia for instance. They have resisted the modern winemaking trends circling the globe and are very unique because of that. Some of these wines are so pure and honest that it is hard not to be inspired by them. RED: Who do you make wine for?

KEVIN: I most certainly make wine for the consumer with the hope of allowing them to experience a definitive time and place through the wine.

RED: Heintz Ranch grapes find their way into some of the most sought-after California wines. Can you name a few wineries that benefit from Heintz grapes?

KEVIN: True there is great company out there, Littorai, William Selyem, Dumol, Flowers and Salinia just to name a few.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

KEVIN: The vineyards actually as we are just starting to get into flowering which will not only dictate the crop for this year but influence next years as well.

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

KEVIN: Approach them with patience, these wines are meant to improve with age. When drinking them young, start the bottle cool, cold even and pour yourself a glass as you cook. Slowly let it warm up in your glass over time. Taking your time to enjoy the evening while watching the wine evolve in glass will reward you on many different levels.

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

KEVIN: Take your time, slow down and enjoy the moment. Those evenings spent with family, friends, food and wine are what memories are made of.

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Heintz Ranch vineyard can be seen in this satellite photo.

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