During the recent Mist:SaltLake “guerilla” gourmet dinners, which were BYOB, I was faced with the daunting task of selecting wines to pair with a 16-course meal. Clearly, I wasn’t going to bring 16 bottles—one for each course—to dinner. So, I decided to simplify things by choosing just three wines. I’d bring a bottle of Champagne to get things started, and two others: a versatile white wine and a versatile red. Since I had no idea ahead of time what the dinner dishes even were, versatility was key. And so, I just chose wines that I love, ones that I’d enjoy no matter how good or bad the food was. It turned out that the food was great, as were the wines I’d chosen.
The red wine I decided on was a bottle of 2007 Dutton-Goldfield Freestone Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley. That particular vintage is no longer available here, unfortunately. I’ll get back to the wine shortly. First, though, you should meet Dutton-Goldfield, if you haven’t already. Chances are you might have already crossed paths with Dan Goldfield on the slopes at Alta, or maybe down in Kolob, on one of his many Southern Utah jaunts.
Winery partners Steve Dutton and Dan Goldfield’s business relationship is based on the shared vision of crafting wines that “express the personalities” of their cool-climate Russian River Valley vineyards—wines that “they’d enjoy drinking at their own dinner tables.” Dutton is a fifth-generation farmer who grew up driving tractors, and whose father began growing grapes in the Russian River during the mid-1960s. After graduating from Brandeis, in Boston, Goldfield headed west where he continued his studies of physical chemistry at the University of Utah, under “a wonderful professor, Jack Simons,” and eventually gained a master’s in Enology from the University of California, Davis. Interwoven were winemaking stints in Portugal, and in California with Mondavi, Schramsberg, La Crema and Hartford Court. In a nutshell, Dutton manages the extensive Dutton Ranch vineyards, while Goldfield handles most of the business end of Dutton-Goldfield and makes the wines.
Goldfield’s relationship with Utah is close and long-lasting, beginning with what he calls “an epic road trip” with his two brothers in 1975. “Let’s just say my powder chops weren’t too impressive at that point,” he says. While studying chemistry at the U, “I lived in the Avenues and spent tons of time skiing and playing in the canyons and mountains.” He fondly recites many adventures—some taking place via his “pitiful” AMC Gremlin—in places like Mamie Creek in Escalante, Kolob Canyon and, of course, his beloved Alta, “the spiritual skiing center, in my mind,” says Dan. “We try to spend some time at Goldminer’s Lodge every year.”
Anyway, about those wines: Dutton-Goldfield produces world-class, Burgundy-style Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that, surprisingly, are within the reach of many, price-wise. To wit, 2009 Dutton Ranch Chardonnay is priced at $29.99—a blend of grapes from five Russian River Chardonnay vineyards, with good acidity and minerality, and brimming with lush tropical-fruit aromas and creamy pear flavors. It was exceptional with rosemary-lemon-roasted chicken.
The 2009 Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir vintage ($29.99) is a little darker than typical, thanks to an especially long growing season, with rich blackberry flavors and a hint of nutmeg. It’s Dutton-Goldfield’s entry-level Pinot, but tastes like much more. Finally, 2009 Freestone Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir is a steal at $54.99 (cheaper here than at the winery, in fact), a beautifully nuanced Pinot with cranberry, blackberry and cherry flavors, and touches of white pepper on the finish. It’s a terrific wine to enjoy after earning your stripes on the slopes of Alta.