Dashe

Wines with individuality from Sonoma and beyond

Most winemakers would feel “married to the job,” but Dashe Winery, founded and run by husband and wife team Michael and Anne Dashe, gives new meaning to “labor of love.” Michael studied at UC Davis and gained experience at Ch. Lafite-Rothschild, Far Niente and Ridge Vineyards, among others, while Anne trained at the University of Bordeaux and worked at Ch. La Dominique as well as in the Napa Valley. A shared passion for wine brought Michael and Anne together and led them to start the winery just months after getting married in 1996. But what they really shared was a desire to create something new: California wines with a European personality. Their wines would be made “naturally,” so they would express the pure flavors of their fruit and the terroir of the vineyards.   A small 10,000 case winery, Dashe Cellars has not followed the typical script of a wine country start-up. They do not own any vineyards, preferring to obtain grapes through long-term contracts with growers of older, low-yielding vineyards in the cooler appellations of Sonoma County. And the winery is located in downtown Oakland – with neither a barn nor tractor in sight. Yet these decisions have allowed them to focus on perfecting an artisinal approach to winemaking, including small-lot fermentation, the use of indigenous yeasts, and little-or-no fining or filtration. They also seek to limit the influence of oak on their wines by using large-format oak vessels including 900-gallon foudres and 120-gallon puncheons, as well as older traditional French barrels.   Ultimately, where the story of Dashe Cellars has really moved off script has been in styling a new personality for an old California stalwart, Zinfandel. While their portfolio includes Grenache, Merlot, Petite Sirah and Riesling, it emphasizes single-vineyard Zinfandel. Yet Michael and Anne Dashe have refuted the belief that great California Zin must be massive and port-like in alcohol content. Not one Zinfandel among their current releases reaches 15% in alcohol; these wines emphasize balance, elegance and perfume over power, and (refuting another notion about the power and preferences of critics) they are routinely awarded high scores. In a recent blog post, Michael Dashe set down his goal for this archetypal California grape, saying “Zinfandel needs to compete—and should compete—on the world stage, with other great varietals from other countries. It needs to taste good on its own, with fruit, acidity, alcohol, and structure all in balance.”

Wines from this Winery

2016 Dashe Reserve Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel (375ml)

2016 Dashe Reserve Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel (375ml)

To mark 20 years of making wine from the Dry Creek Valley, Dashe Cellars has produced their first reserve bottling, a blend of not only their favorite vineyards in the region but the very best barrels those lots produced. Other differences from the non-reserve include a higher percentage of Petite Sirah in the blend and aging in 20% new French oak. Dashe Cellars describes this wine as one of the most intense and complex Dry Creek Zins they have yet produced - with enticing aromas of blackberry, cassis, pomegranate, chocolate and licorice as well as a hedonistic, velvety palate of dark chocolate and black pepper spice. 

Details
¥ 2,600
2017 Dashe Potter Valley Dry Riesling

2017 Dashe Potter Valley Dry Riesling

Dashe Riesling is sourced from the McFadden Vineyard, an all-organic farm located in the highlands of eastern Mendocino County. Here, hot summer days turn into crisp nights and mornings, allowing Riesling grapes to develop complex aromas and flavors over a long growing season. Like the dry and elegant Rieslings of Alsace, the 30 year-old vines are planted in white, chalky soil on a steep hillside. Dashe Cellars consider the 2017 to be one of the most aromatic and lovely Rieslings they have ever made. It’s just off-dry and charms with lush texture, superb balance of fruit and acidity, complex minerality and tiny hint of sweetness in the finish. With aromas of jasmine and rose and crisp flavors of pear and grapefruit, this Riesling will grace meals of summer salads, roast pork, sushi or Thai curry.

Details
¥ 3,900
2016 Dashe Late Harvest Zinfandel (375ml)

2016 Dashe Late Harvest Zinfandel (375ml)

Dashe Cellars’ Late Harvest Zin proves that Zinfandel may be the world’s most versatile grape, capable of producing quaffable rosés, elegant clarets, high-octane bruisers, and dessert wines like this, in which natural sweetness is retained in the wine (rather than converted into alcohol) to produce a magical libation of intense raspberry, blackberry, chocolate and spice. The secret to this wine lies in the Lily Hill Vineyard in northern Dry Creek Valley. Because the vines struggle to survive in the shallow, rocky soils, they produce just small amounts of concentrated fruit. When the grapes are harvested about a month later than usual, the sugars and sweet fruit flavors are potent yet balanced with beautiful acidity. As a result, this dessert wine is decadently sweet yet focused and crisp. 

Details
¥ 4,300
2015 Dashe Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel

2015 Dashe Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel

This Zin is sourced from five small, family-owned vineyards in the center and north of the Dry Creek Valley, old plots that harken back to the days when the area was well away from the beaten path of “wine country” and almost forgotten. 2015 is now well-known as a drought year, in which every phase of vine growth, from bud break to harvest, came early. In the Dry Creek Valley’s Zinfandel vineyards, that meant smaller berries and lower yields – but, perhaps unexpectedly, very high quality. Almost as soon as grapes were fermenting away, Dry Creek winemakers were hailing the excellent aromatics and great fruit character of the young wines. The real proof of excellence lies in the bottle, and Dashe’s 2015 Dry Creek Zin is a standout. Plump, lush cherry and raspberry harmonize with integrated oak flavors, and 4% Petite Sirah brings richness and resonance to the finish. 

Details
¥ 4,300
2016 Dashe

2016 Dashe "Les Enfants Terribles" Mendocino Cuvee Zinfandel

Like the McFadden Farm Zinfandel, the Mendocino Cuvée is made in the style of “cru" Beaujolais. That is, carbonic maceration is used to make a Zin that is light ruby-colored, reduced in alcohol, intriguingly aromatic, fresh and full of flavor. Unlike your typical Zin, it has zip instead of weight, and structure without much tannin, making it a quaffable red for warm summer evenings. The grapes were sourced mainly from the Signal Ridge Vineyard in the Mendocino Ridge AVA, a high-elevation region near the Pacfic Ocean. Indeed, this vineyard is the highest in all Mendocino County, where the vines are bathed in sunlight while being cooled by maritime winds. This climate as well as the rocky soils keep yields down and produce complex and compelling wines.

Details
¥ 4,600