2007 Korte Ranch St. Helena Zinfandel
California: Napa Valley: St. Helena
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Mission Codename: St. George, Cubed
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Respond to Operative requests for a Zinfandel from D-Cubed Cellars in Calistoga, at the northern end of the Napa Valley. Evaluate Duane’s single-vineyard Korte Ranch Zinfandel. Secure an ample allocation for our Zin-loving Operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Epiphany Cellars
Wine Subject: 2007 Korte Ranch Zinfandel – St. Helena, Napa Valley
Winemaker: Duane Dappen
Backgrounder: The grapes for today’s wine comes from the Korte Ranch Vineyard in Napa Valley’s St. Helena. This vineyard was planted of fabled St. George rootstock, around 1910. This head-trained, dry-farmed vineyard produces distinctive and very sought-after Zinfandels. 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. Napa Valley Zinfandels, which are characterized by their bold character, deep flavors and deep aromatics, are very popular with our Operatives.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep ruby hues at the edges, with a darker Burgundy core. When swirled, the wine leaves behind tall, wine-stained tears that move slowly down the glass.
Smell – Vibrant Bing cherry, black cherry and spiced blackberry preserves leap from the glass. Dark strawberry, smoky blackberry jam, anise, dried meats, mocha, exotic spice, sweetwoods and black pepper soon follow.
Feel – Instantly grippy on the attack, then smooth across the mid-palate where it feels almost silky. Fine-grained tannins and a balanced acidity give the wine a complex feel. As the wine settles all around the palate, is takes on a dry, flinty feel.
Taste – Bright cherry and blackberry make a powerful initial splash. These bold flavors give way to espresso bean, dried fall leaves, spice, leather and toasty oak. Black pepper and slate deliver a bright and zesty tang at the tail end.
Finish – Very long and filled with bright flavors. Red fruit yields to black fruit, spice, leather, minerals and black pepper.
Conclusion – This 2007 D-Cubed Cellars Korte Ranch Zinfandel is a bright, juicy, delicious wine from one of the our heroes of California Zinfandel. Duane Dappen has crafted a complex and balanced wine that is a true delight to swirl, sniff, taste, discuss and analyze. As the wine stretches out, in the glass, it transforms, opening up to reveal deeper aromatics and more natural fruit flavors. Serve with a grilled steak or tangy BBQ. Drink now – but also lay some down for the next few years. This terrific 2007 has the structure to age and evolve.
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 2007 Korte Ranch Zinfandel 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: This is the 2007 Korte Ranch Zinfandel. Korte Ranch is an amazing vineyard just north of St. Helena planted around 1910
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
DUANE: I love either, a nice pasta with a sauce of fresh vegetables, a little sausage and some wine reduction, or a medium-rare steak off the grill.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the St. Helena such a special place for Zinfandel?
DUANE: St.Helena is situated just north of the middle of the Napa Valley and this gives it the warm days and cool nights to ripen Zinfandel while keeping the acids and tannins in a wonderful balance.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
DUANE: Finishing racking the 2011 wines and getting ready to blend the 2010 wines.
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
About This Wine:
For the third vintage of D-cubed Cellars St. Helena Zinfandel we have added the Korte Ranch name as a vineyard designation, to honor this great old vineyard.. The Korte Ranch is a classic old St. Helena Vineyard, planted around 1910. Korte Ranch is head-trained and dry-farmed planted on the St. George rootstock and produces wonderful Zinfandel.
The 2007 Korte Ranch Zinfandel is a very intense wine with aromas of raspberries, blackberries, cardamom and, vanilla. The wine is very rich in the mouth with exquisite balance. The flavors are of raspberry, vanilla, hints of oak and other spices. The fresh flavors linger over the long smooth finish.
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: 96% St. Helena, 4% Napa Valley
Varietal Content: 98% Zinfandel, 2% Petite Sirah
Production: 252 cases
Release date: October 1, 2010
Time in oak: 12 months
Bottling: September 2008
Fining: No fining
Aging potential: 5 to 7 years