If you drive north through the northern most vicinity of Napa Valley, a few minutes past Calistoga, you will arrive in the AVA (American Viticultural Area) known as Knights Valley. Although not the most recognized wine region in California, this AVA is considered by many to be a gem in the hills north of Napa. Many winemakers in Kights Valley grow grapes and make wine with traditional values in mind. Dave and Kathy Burton reflect this notion and believe the traditional wine making expression that good wine is made in the vineyard.
The Speedy Creek journey began in the 1990s when Dave Burton, a biochemist with a dream to own a vineyard, continued to work in the biotech industry while developing Speedy Creek vineyards, a project that he initially intended to be a grape supplier. Those goals were met quickly and in recent years Dave and Kathy have planted multiple red varietals. While they continue to sell grapes to other (critically successful) boutique wine-makers, Speedy Creek’s own-label wines are now becoming a significant part of Dave and Kathy’s operation. And it is mainly Dave and Kathy who personally operate the vineyard – and live in it. Constant proximity allows them to pay as much attention as possible to the health and development of the grapes throughout the season. In some way, it is possible that this personal attention and care finds itself into the quality and character of the grapes and eventually the wines made by these hard-working people.
I am happy to recommend these wines for those seeking California wine of boutique-style character, with the added bonus of non-boutique-style pricing.
2007 Speedy Creek Cabernet Sauvignon ($30) The nose on this Cabernet is earthy, with hints of cherry. Flavors are intense, but balanced, with dark blackberry and cherry flavors giving way to a rich earthiness, then finishing with dark fruit and caramel-oak flavors. Not a thin or weak wine by any stretch, but this wine displays a unique rustic character that sets it apart from many others in the price category.
2006 Speedy Creek Sangiovese ($22) This wine delivers aromas of dark fruits and slight floral notes. Mouthfeel is much richer than expected if one is anticipates an Italian-style Sangiovese, but the richness is quite typical for a hearty Californian red. While the flavors are richer than Italian counterparts, this wine maintains food-friendly acidity that marks the Sangiovese varietal as a food-lover favorite. Dark cherry and Plumy flavors draw through to a dark, spicy finish.
2007 Speedy Creek Zinfandel ($26) Aromas of spicy fruit and a hint of smokiness mark the nose of this wine. The flavors are fruit-forward with a mid-palate punch of intense blackberry fruit. Many California Zinfandels in recent years have displayed heavy fruit flavors bordering on sweetness, but this Speedy Creek Zinfandel is a satisfying, smooth, fruit-forward wine.