2006 Florence Vineyard Zinfandel
Zinfandel •Florence Vineyard
California: Sonoma County: Dry Creek Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Kiss My Grits!
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Investigate Dashe Cellars and acquire their Florence Vineyard Zinfandel
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Dashe Cellars
Wine Subject: 2006 Florence Vineyard Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
Winemaker: Michael and Anne Dashe
The lush Dry Creek Valley, in Sonoma County, is home to some of our most favorite wineries. A still and beautiful place the Dry Creek Valley is fertile, lush and abundant with vineyards that produce an astonishing range of wines. From creek-side low-lying vineyards to those at higher elevations, the variety of flavors and styles – even among a particular varietal – is astounding.
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 Valley Zinfandel, which are characterized by their big, extracted flavors, are gaining in popularity with our Operatives.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark and deep purple with violet tints through its dark almost black core and along the edges. When swirled, this springy wine leaves slow fat legs along the side of the glass.
Smell – Bold, but not overpowering in intensity with rich aromas of spiced dark fruit including plum, blackberry and cassis with layers of floral violet, dried bramble herbs and a touch of mocha.
Feel – Rich and round, this plush dry wine is full-bodied with finely grained tannins and balanced acidity. Textured dusty minerality and a touch of spice preset on the tip and sides of the tongue as well.
Taste – Expansive flavors of black and red fruit including blackberry, plum, raspberry and cassis lead off with notes of well integrated exotic spice and pepper. Subtle oak, mocha and both herbal and floral hints from the nose linger and add to the overall complexity of this wine.
Finish – Long and persistent with flavors of dark bramble berries and dusty minerality that linger and make the mouth water for another sip.
Conclusion – The 2006 Dashe Cellars Florence Vineyard Dry Creek Valley is a fine example of why Dry Creek Valley is so beloved for Zinfandel. Rich and plush with elegant complexity of aroma and flavors that are well supported by a rich and plush structure. We enjoyed this wine with some expectational French goat (Selle-sur-Cher by P. Jacquin) cheese and fresh figs. Give this wine some time to open up to fully reveal all of its exceptional flavors.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Michael Dashe
DATE OF BIRTH: 12/21/1957
PLACE OF BIRTH: Spokane WA
WINE EDUCATION: Masters of Science, UC Davis
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Schramsburg Wine Cellars, Far Niente Winery, Ridge Vineyards (Assistant Winemaker 1990—1998), Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Cloudy Bay Winery (New Zealand)
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Natural winemaking: We use exclusively Native Yeast fermentations, gentle racking to French oak barrels, no fining, limited filtration, etc. We source from wonderful small family-owned vineyards, and search out Old Vine Zinfandel, exclusively from Sonoma County.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Old Vine Zinfandel; Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Working as Assistant Winemaker for Paul Draper at Ridge Vineyards for almost nine years. A university in Natural Winemaking!
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Working as an intern for four months at Chateau Lafite Rothschild in Bordeaux. An incredible learning experience.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “Don’t be influenced by anyone’s taste buds but your own….”
AGENT RED: Greetings, Michael. I must say that it is a real pleasure to finally be showing your wine. I have been a fan since founding The Wine Spies a few years ago. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
MICHAEL: It’s my pleasure.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
MICHAEL: I’ve loved wine from early on — but after I started working for the Roudin-Smith winery in Santa Cruz when I was a student at UC Santa Cruz I was hooked.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
MICHAEL: Without a question, the two wineries Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Ridge Vineyards. Two of my favorite wineries in the world!
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
MICHAEL: We do everything possible to not interfere with the natural process of winemaking. We use native yeast fermentations, and natural winemaking techniques.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
MICHAEL: Paul Draper at Ridge Vineyards is a master blender, and philosopher of winemaking.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
MICHAEL: I started in 1979. A long time ago!
RED: Who do you make wine for?
MICHAEL: I definitely make wines that are of a kind that my wife (and co-winemaker) Anne and I like to drink—so I guess we make the wines to please our palates. We try to be true to the varietals and the vineyards. Of course, we’ve attracted customers who like our style of wine. We’ve been lucky that way.
RED: Tell me, what makes Sonoma County so special for wine growing?
MICHAEL: I love Sonoma County and the Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys in particular. They just have a great climate for making incredibly balanced and complex wines. The influence of the ocean isn’t too far away, so the area cools down and keeps the acidity in the wines in balance with the fruit. I just love how the Dry Creek Valley looks, too—it reminds me of how upper Napa Valley looked decades ago—beautiful and not too overbuilt.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
MICHAEL: Be ready to work your tail off for decades….and enjoy the ride. Don’t do it for money and glory!
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
MICHAEL: Putting the wines to bed after harvest: finishing up our fermentations and pressing, and putting wine into barrels. I now am using some large format barrels—I have three 900 gallon barrels that I love working with—as well as 120 gallon puncheons that help me make these lovely, velvety textured wines. I love experimenting with new vineyards and tasting the wines for the first time. Each vineyard has a different personality, and we enjoy making the vineyard shine through the wine flavors.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
MICHAEL: These are vines that were grown from cuttings of some the most famous Zinfandel vines in the state. The grower, Jack Florence, is a real artisan grower. He keeps the yields of the vines very low, and the clone has these tiny berries that concentrate the flavors. You’ll be truly impressed with the aromas of the wine—it just jumps from the glass with this incredible black raspberry, floral, spicy aromas.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
MICHAEL: Grilled lamb or a rich stew, or a pasta dish with a really rich sauce.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
MICHAEL: I got into this business because I used to dive for abalone off the coast of California. It led me into the business and now I’ve worked on three continents in wineries.
RED:What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
MICHAEL: I actually drink lots of wines from the Loire Valley, which are extremely approachable and lovely wines.
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
MICHAEL: Just savor the aromas, flavors, and especially the texture of the wine. It’s like liquid velvet—extremely smooth, balanced, and complex.
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
MICHAEL: A thirty year old Clos Ste. Hune Riesling. Too good for words.
RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
MICHAEL: How did you manage to snag the beautiful and talented French winemaker Anne Dashe to start a winery with you? Answer: Persistence.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
MICHAEL: Again, my pleasure, Agent Red.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the the Family Wineries Dry Creek Valley Tasting Room where Dashe Cellar’s wines can be tasted can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Aroma: Lovely, aromatic floral nose—with lavender and violets—mixed with black raspberry, cassis, black pepper, chocolate, dusty/mineral, lavender, and clove.
Taste: Black raspberry, cassis, chocolate, clove spice, thick and velvety texture on the mid-palate, long persistent finish of blackberry and black raspberry fruit, sweet chocolate and spice.
A phenomenally rich wine from one of the best up-and-coming vineyards in all of Dry Creek Valley! The grapes from this vineyard were planted from cuttings of the St. Peters Church clone, and the cuttings were directly taken from vines on the famous Rockpile Ranch in northern Dry Creek. This first wine just bowled us over with its intensely aromatic nose, its round, lush mouthfeel, and its array of complex flavors.
History: The 2006 vintage in Dry Creek produced extremely balanced, luscious wine. The wine from Florence vineyard was particularly showy from the start—even in the fermenter—with its jet-black color, perfumed aromas of violets and lavender, and rich flavors of black raspberry, chocolate, and clove spice.
Production: We used our special custom-made gridded tanks to ferment the wines. These tanks, outfitted with stainless-steel grids that can be raised or lowered on top of the crushed grapes, allow us to submerge the cap of grape skins beneath the surface of the fermenting wine. We extract color, body, and complexity from the grapes, using these grids, without extracting too much of the drying tannins found in the seeds. The result are intense and complex wines that feel velvety and round on the tongue rather than harsh or tannic.
As is our tradition, we conducted the fermentation using only the natural yeast population on the grapes. During fermentation the temperature was allowed to get above 90º F, to aid in the extraction of color and flavor. At dryness, the wine was gently pressed in a membrane press and pumped to small, 60-gallon French oak barrels.
The wine was aged for 14 months, and was racked about every three months up to tank and then back down to barrel to clarify the wine and aid in its development. In our blending trials, we decided the wine was superb on its own, and did not blend anything else to interfere with the intense, lovely fruit.
About The Winery:
In 1996, the husband and wife winemaking team of Michael and Anne Dashe founded Dashe Cellars. Focused on crafting exceptional single vineyard wines, Dashe Cellars blends Anne’s classic French winemaking training with the experience Michael has gained at such noted American wineries as Ridge Vineyards, Far Niente and Schramsberg Wine Cellars. Together, the Dashe’s strive to create authentic, vineyard-focused wines that capture the charm and personality of top, independent vineyards throughout Sonoma County and beyond.
Anne and Michael were introduced in 1994, and quickly fell in love. Sharing a wealth of personal and professional interests, the couple spoke early in their relationship about the exciting prospect of founding a winery together. With complementary degrees in enology from the University of Bordeaux, and the University of California at Davis, they knew that their combined backgrounds could result in something special. In 1996, Michael and Anne were married. That same year, they founded Dashe Cellars together. For the wine label, they chose a playful image featuring a monkey riding on the back of a fish, a metaphor for two unique creatures traveling together on a journey.
To make their inaugural vintage of 1996 Dry Creek Zinfandel, the Dashe’s custom crushed at a friend’s winery in Sonoma, while Michael simultaneously worked as assistant winemaker at Ridge. Unveiled at a gathering of the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP), Michael and Anne were thrilled when their Dry Creek Zinfandel was glowingly received. By 1998, Michael had left Ridge to pursue winemaking at Dashe Cellars fulltime. Soon after, the Dashe’s moved to a 4000 square foot winery facility in Alameda, next-door to Rosenblum Cellars, and Jeff Cohn’s JC Cellars.
Varietals: 100% Zinfandel from the Florence Ranch
Appellation: Dry Creek Valley,Sonoma County
Alcohol: 14.5 % by vol.
Time in oak: 12 months
Oak: 100% French; 18% new
Production: 420 cases, 750mL
Release date: July 1, 2008
Optimum time for consumption: 2008-2015