2006 Napa Valley Petite Sirah
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
Today’s wine delivers a drinking experience whose value exceeds its price – easily earning it this special QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) Alert.
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Mission Codename: Cube Roots
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Respond to Operative requests for a wine from D-Cubed Cellars, in Calistoga, at the northern end of the Napa Valley. Evaluate Duane’s Napa Valley Petite Sirah. If the quality meets or exceeds the expectations of our demanding Operatives, secure an ample allocation.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Epiphany Cellars
Wine Subject: 2006 Petite Sirah Napa Valley
Winemaker: Duane Dappen
Backgrounder: Petite Sirah’s California roots dates back to when it was believed to be a close relative of the Syrah grape. Later it would be found to be genetically identical to the Durif, named for its after French discoverer François Durif who found that the varietal was a Syrah grape pollinated with Peloursin flowers. Its smaller berries with higher skin to pulp ratio leads to more intense flavors. Another benefit of the smaller berries are tighter clusters that are more resistant to mildew. Currently Petite Sirah is less popular in France and increasingly popular in the United States
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark and slightly opaque, with purple and ruby hues. After swirling, tight clusters of branching legs start high up on the glass. They move very slowly downward, thinning as they go.
Smell – Bold and perfumed, with lush aromas of blackberry, fresh fig, bramble, black plum, dark chocolate and subtle bacon. As the wine breathes in the glass, dried meats, anise, black pepper and dark strawberry all emerge from the glass.
Feel – Soft and round, at first, the wine takes on weight at the mid and rear palate, where it becomes grippy and textured. Ripe tannins and a balanced acidity add complexity and character.
Taste – This wine leads with big blackberry and dark blueberry. These are followed by dark plum, cedar, subtle dried herbs and cocoa dust.
Finish – Ripe and chewy, with dark fruit that lingers for a long time, eventually yielding to earthy flavors that fade slowly, culminating in black pepper and chalky minerals.
Conclusion – The 2006 D-Cubed Cellars Napa Valley Petite Sirah is an excellent, balanced wine from a producer that we have been chasing for, literally years. Duane Dappen is best known for his Zinfandel but we were intrigued by the buzz that his Petite Sirah has been generating of late. Duane was finally able to cut a handful of cases away for our Operatives, for today’s sale. This Petite Sirah is well balanced, delivering great fruit, without overwhelming the palate, as some big Petites may tend to do. Decant for best results and pair this flexible wine as you would with a great Merlot, which is to say, with nearly anything.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Duane Dappen
WINE EDUCATION: Studied Enology and UC Davis
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Worked in Napa Valley for 26 years. Started at Grgich Hills Cellar, was Cellarmaster at Storybook Mountain Vineyards, Assistant Winemaker at Rombauer and Frank Family Vineyards. Winemaker at Frank Family Vineyards. Currently Winemaker and President of D-cubed Cellars and Winemaker at Bravante Vineyards.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Keep it simple. Try to allow the fruit to be at its best with some elegance and balance.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: Who wants the last rib?
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: (1994 Howell Mountain Zinfandel released February 1996.)
AGENT RED: Greetings, Duane. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Napa Valley Petite Sirah today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
DUANE DAPPEN: Thanks, Agent Red. Your perseverance has paid off.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
DUANE: Growing up in the Foothills my parents would go wine tasting and then I started working with a friend’s father making home wine in his cave (the cave originally was a Gold Mine)
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
DUANE: There was no particular wine or winemaker, but the combination or wines from Grgich Hills Cellars and Storybook Mountain have influenced me.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
DUANE: I make wine that I enjoy drinking and that I hope my friends and customers will like.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
DUANE: The 2006 Napa Valley Petite Sirah is the second vintage of Petite that I have produced. The wine has the classic medium body but a nice tannin structure that is Petite Sirah. There are also some nice blueberry flavors that are framed by sage and tea leaves.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
DUANE: I love this with some slow cooked pork, some nice Spareribs with just a nice rub, not a sweet saucy mess, or some slow cook pork shoulder.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Napa Valle such a special place for Petite Sirah?
DUANE: The Napa Valley has the consistently warm days and cool nights that get this variety ripe and still maintain some acid to balance the tannins that are inherent in Petite Sirah.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
DUANE: I just finished bottling the 2009 reds at Bravante Vineyards and am now getting everything in order for crush which should start in a week or so.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
WINEMAKER: I like to think that people enjoy my wines with good food and company, whether it is their spouse or significant other having dinner at home together or a group of friends tailgating. Wine is best with good food and company.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
DUANE: I hope everyone enjoys this wine with great food and friends.
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!
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
About This Wine:
For the second vintage of my Napa Valley Petite I blended some fruit from an old head trained vineyard near Calistoga and a vineyard east of Napa with a small amount of Zinfandel. This shows off the smoky fruit of Petite Sirah and rounds out the middle and tannins with the Zinfandel.
The Dcubed Cellars 2006 Petite Sirah has dark spicy black cherry fruit, sage, cedar and tobacco aromas. The flavors follow the aromas with medium body and round smooth tannins. This wine finishes with black cherries and cigar box flavors.
About The Winery:
D-cubed Cellars started in 1994 with the Howell Mountain Zinfandel made grapes grown at the Black Sears Vineyard. In 2010 D-cubed Cellars was called a Top Artisan Winery by Wine and Spirits Magazine, a wonderful honor.
Now we have the 2007 Vintage of wines! 2007 is an amazing vintage of well balanced wines with fruit being in front of it all. Having 5 Zinfandels from this vintage demonstrates how well Zinfandel displays its terrior and how versatile Zinfandel can be!
Please check out all the pages we have on this website. Be sure to visit In Our Kitchen, which features recipes approved by my 15-year-old daughter and my 7 year old son, of course they pair well with D-cubed Cellars Wines.
When you are visiting the Napa Valley stop by my tasting room Vintner’s Collective, 1245 Main St. in Napa. There you can taste D-cubed Cellars current wines, and those of several other small wonderful wineries.
I am the current President of ZAP so be sure to check visit the ZAP website to learn about all things Zinfandel. It has the latest information on ZAP and the exciting events that are coming up including the 19th annual Zinfandel Festival so you can “Zin in Paradise”!
The Beginnings: I was raised in an agricultural family; my Dad was an accomplished beekeeper and my grandfather managed a fish hatchery. In high school I had some friends whose parents made wine in their cave (actually an old gold mine). We got together with another friend and started a 4-H project and entered the results of our work in the El Dorado County Fair Home Winemaking competition. We made Chenin Blanc and Grenache with must donated by Greg Boeger from Boeger Vineyards in Placerville. We also produced a Plum wine and a Blackberry wine, The Blackberry wine received “Best of Show”. This was the inspiration I needed to enter the enology program at The University of California, Davis.
Path to Winemaking: After graduating from UC Davis, I went to work as a cellar worker at Grgich Hills Cellars. There, alongside four other UC Davis graduates and Mike Grgich, I learned the critically important winery production processes for producing ultra premium wines. This was all about cleaning barrels, endless pump overs, lugging scores of hosing, racking wine and a multitude of additional chores that must be done to produce a fine wine. Grgich Hills was a great place to begin a winemaking career as I was surrounded by passionate, innovative peers and shown what it takes to build a great wine.
In 1989 I moved north, as cellar master to one of Napa Valley’s renowned Zinfandel producers, Jerry Seps’ Storybook Mountain. The move to a much smaller operation afforded me the opportunity to oversee nearly all production aspects at the winery. This four-year, Zinfandel-intensive tenure was incredibly valuable to my winemaking career.
The year 1993 brought me to Rombauer Vineyards where I began as cellar master but quickly rose to assistant winemaker. Because Rombauer also functions as a custom crush facility, (a facility where small wineries may bring their grapes to be produced into wine) it was a unique opportunity to work with a wide spectrum of varietals, winemaking styles and a multitude of respected winemakers.
In 1998 Frank Family Vineyards offered me the opportunity to be winemaker. I produced an amazing array of wine brands including Rombauer, Frank Family still and sparkling wines and many different boutique wineries. I could not have asked for a more broad and varied foundation from which to launch my own brand.
D-Cubed Beginnings: The opportunity to source and produce my own wine came in 1994 when several tons of the (not yet) super esteemed Black Sears Zinfandel was made available to me. Could anyone have asked for better grapes to start with??! While Ridge Vineyards was the first to source this once dilapidated vineyard, it was Turley Vineyards and D-Cubed who brought acclaim to its grapes. My premiere release was the blending of select Black Sears rows with other outstanding Howell Mountain vineyards (it is still one of my core productions).
In 1996 Brown Estate Vineyards, who produced their Zinfandel at Rombauer, asked me to be their winemaker and advisor for their new winery project. I believed their estate grown Zinfandel was of tremendous quality – Chiles valley vines that were passionately well farmed. I subsequently began purchasing grapes from different Brown Estate blocks that would ultimately go into the premiere production of my Napa Valley Zinfandel.
In the spring of 2002, I left Frank Family Vineyards to devote my efforts to D-Cubed wines and two vineyards that I consult for, Bravante Vineyards on Howell Mountain, and Brown Estate Vineyards in Chiles Valley.
My 4-H project beginnings evolved into a career of Napa Valley winemaking. For me, there is no other grape like Zinfandel, the most “California Styled” grape that begs to be drunk with merriment and smiles. Zinfandel has a unique mouth-feel, an intensity of fruit and an inherent element of fun not matched by other reds. With this in mind, D-Cubed Cellars produces it’s distinctly different Zinfandels: Napa Valley, Howell Mountain, Black Sears, Brown Vineyards, and Slaybaugh Ranch.
Progressive Zinfandel Thoughts: One of the coolest things is watching every one of these bottlings become a better wine each year. I attribute that to the fact that these select vineyards are simply getting better through consistent vineyard management and through the miles of muddy, rocky fields I walk year after year.
I will always concentrate on Zinfandel…aside from being my favorite grape; it’s just fun to drink! Zinfandel’s has a loose celebratory, raucous feel about it— not the serious, hushed tone of Bordeaux varietals. This varietal is a great grape to taste alongside other Zins to begin to understand regional, vineyard, winemaker and production variances. It’s a great evening when I can sit down with a bunch of friends and a handful of Zinfandels (including some of mine of course!) while we taste and evaluate the night away! Line ’em up and try them!
My tasting room, The Vintner’s Collective in downtown Napa, gives everyone a place where they can come and taste my wines. We also have a release party each year after the ZAP Festival. I look forward to see you at one of these two tastings.
Duane David Dappen
Appellation: 100% Napa Valley
Varietal Content: 94% Petite Sirah, 6% Zinfandel
Production: 252 cases
Release date: February 1, 2010
Time in oak: 11 months
Bottling: October 2007
Fining: No fining
Aging potential: 6 to 8 years