2008 Fritz Underground Winery Dry Creek Valley Estate Zinfandel

Mission Codename: Twenty gets you Forty

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Revisit Fritz Underground Winery, an Operative favorite. This time, procure their Estate Zinfandel, the perfect Holiday wine.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Fritz Underground Winery

Wine Subject: 2008 Dry Creek Valley Estate Zinfandel

Winemaker: Brad Longton

Backgrounder: We first discovered the Fritz Underground Winery in 2008. Back then, we were lucky to get our hands on an allotment of their spectacular wines. We now enjoy a special relationship with Fritz, who allows us special access to limited quantities of their wines.

The Dry Creek Valley AVA in northeastern Sonoma (north of Healdsburg) county is somewhat warmer and wetter than the Russian River Valley AVA region just to the south and the Alexander Valley AVA just to the east. The warmer and wetter climate provides great versatility with regard to the types of grapes that can be effectively cultivated in the region. This is an area best known for producing rather remarkable Zinfandel.

Zinfandel is related to the Italian Primitivo grape, tracing its origin to the Croatian grape Crljenak Kastelanski. Zinfandel is one of the most versatile varietals with the ability to make wines, both rich to fruity, dark to light, and dry to sweet. Dry Creek ValleyZinfandel, which are characterized by their balanced flavors, is among the most popular wines of our Operatives.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Cherry cocktail color with perfect clarity. Concentrated color from the heart of the wine, out to the edges of the glass. After swirling, the wine settles quickly, leaving behind tall, tightly-spaced legs that move very slowly down the glass.

Smell – Softly spiced fruit leaps from the glass after a hearty swirl. Blackberry, black cherry, red currant, bramble and subtle blueberry are the primary notes. After the wine breathes, it reveals hints of black pepper, bramble, dried fall leaves and subtle smoked cherry.

Feel – Soft and smooth up front, fast across the mid-palate and grippy at the edges, this wine has a complex yet lively feel. Bright acids and ultra-fine tannins add to the festive and softly full feel.

Taste – Sweet black cherry and raspberry juice lead the way. As the wine settles onto the palate, it reveals additional flavors of blackberry, soft brown spice and subtle hints of leather and black pepper.

Finish – Sweet and red with ultra long-lasting fruit. As the sweet flavors tail off, soft spice, pepper and leather mingle with a lasting acidity, leading to a soft dryness.

Conclusion – This is a beautiful, fun, lively, deliciouswine that is so easy to drink – and so budget friendly – that you might want to purchase a whole case. Okay,two cases_! Today’s 2008 Fritz Underground Winery Estate Grown Zinfandel from the Zin-perfect Dry Creek Valley is a balanced wine that is a delight to enjoy on its own, but we must recommend it as a fantastic and very flexible food wine. We continue to be impressed with Clay Fritz’ wines, and we are certain that you will be, too.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Brad Longton

WINE EDUCATION: Self-Educated. Growing up in Perth, Australia, I became interested in wine while working at a wine retail store as a young adult. I originally started reading about winemaking so I could broaden my knowledge and increase my sales, but soon realized that I was drawn to winemaking as a career. Not soon after, I took a cellar job with Brown Brothers winery in Victoria, Australia and was quickly immersed in the production of Riesling, Chardonnay and Syrah.

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: In an effort to expand my winemaking experience and exposure to other wine regions of the world, I traveled to Sonoma County in 2000 to work in the cellar at Murphy-Goode Winery and later at Clos du Bois. I returned to Australia in 2002 to take a position at Amberley Estates in Margaret River. However, in 2003, I moved back to California to take up a position at Heitz Cellars in the Napa Valley, before moving to Fritz Winery in 2005.

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: My aim is to craft wines that exemplify the distinct attributes of the exceptional terroir that they come from.


AGENT RED: Greetings, Brad. We are thrilled to be showing your 2008 Dry Creek Valley Estate Zinfandel today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

BRAD: Hi, Agent Red. It is great to be working with you, again!

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

BRAD: Growing up in Australia, I was inspired by wines that were being produced in my “backyard.”

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

BRAD: I am influenced by a wine that is created with a minimalist approach.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

BRAD: I try to create wines that can be appreciated by a variety of consumers.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

BRAD: t is 100% Estate grown. It has a lot of red fruit and a little spice and pepper.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

BRAD: Braised short ribs.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Dry Creek Valleyso special?

BRAD: The Fritz estate has a unique micro climate – it is located in a little valley of its own within Dry Creek Valley which tends to be cooler.

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

BRAD: I am blending the 2010 Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010 Dry Creek Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2010 Estate Malbec.

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

BRAD: Have our wines with the company of good food and great friends. Our wines can be savored now or can be aged for years to come.

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

BRAD: Thank you for supporting Fritz Underground Winery! Cheers!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Fritz Underground Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.

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