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

2014 Dashe Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel (375ml)

2014 Dashe Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel (375ml)

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. In 2014, the Dry Creek Valley produced fabulous Zin. A long growing season of sunny days and cool, foggy nights endowed the wine with intense, mouthfilling forward fruit balanced with bright acidity and supple tannic structure. The 375 ml bottle is perfect for picnics, train journeys, or mid-week meals. 

Details
¥ 2,500
2016 Dashe Potter Valley Dry Riesling

2016 Dashe Potter Valley Dry Riesling

On the eastern side of Mendocino County, the Potter Valley is a high-elevation viticultural area, where hot summer days turn into crisp nights and mornings. Grapes that favor cooler climates develop complex characteristics over a long growing season. The source of Dashe’s Riesling grapes is the all-organic McFadden Vineyard, where 30 year old vines grow on white, chalky soil on a steep hillside – not unlike Alsace, the model for this dry, elegant wine. In 2016 Lake County experienced optimal conditions from early spring through the fall - enough rain to break the drought and warm summer days tempered by cool nights. 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
2014 Dashe Late Harvest Zinfandel (375ml)

2014 Dashe Late Harvest Zinfandel (375ml)

Who needs chocolate when you can sip a wine as deliciously rich and seductively sweet as this? And as this libation of intense raspberry, blackberry, chocolate and spice washes across your pleasure centers, you may wonder about the magic employed to create it. As with all of Dashe Cellars’ wines, that magic lies in the vineyard – in this case 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
2014 Dashe Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel

2014 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. In 2014, the Dry Creek Valley produced fabulous Zin. A long growing season of sunny days and cool, foggy nights endowed the wine with intense, mouthfilling forward fruit balanced with bright acidity and supple tannic structure. The 375 ml bottle is perfect for picnics, train journeys, or mid-week meals.

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
2015 Dashe

2015 Dashe "Les Enfants Terribles" McFadden Farm Zinfandel

“Les Enfants Terrible” allows Dashe Cellars to craft California Zinfandel and Grenache in a consciously old-world style that is light in body and color, moderate in alcohol, low in SO2 and virtually untouched by oak. These wines display lightness, finesse, and minerality, highlighting cool-climate terroir and more “natural” winemaking. Farmed organically in the hills above the Potter Valley in Mendocino, the McFadden Vineyard features a cool climate and chalky soils in an area that produces more Riesling than Zinfandel. The wine is then made by carbonic maceration, a method used in Beaujolais but rarely in California. The fruit goes into the tank as 10% whole grape clusters and the rest uncrushed berries for a gentle fermentation on native yeasts that lasts about three weeks. The result is a Zinfandel unlike any other: pale red in color yet full of bright flavors and aromas.

Details
¥ 4,600