COLOR: Dark ruby red. NOSE: Intense black raspberry, coffee, chocolate, clove and licorice spice, slight butterscotch. PALATE: Blackberry and raspberry fruit, chocolate and vanilla, clove spice, thick and velvety texture on the mid-palate, long sweet finish of raspberry fruit, sweet chocolate and spice.
With its picture-perfect ripening conditions and mild temperatures in the Fall, 2001 was an unbeatable year for zinfandel in the Dry Creek Valley. This year we included zinfandel from the superb Louvau vineyard on Dry Creek Road, in the center of the valley, along with the fruit from the Adams` ranches on West Dry Creek Road and Canyon Road, in upper Dry Creek Valley. This additional fruit from the center of Dry Creek gave the wine a depth of flavor and elegance that make it perfect both as an aperitif and as a wine to go with a wide range of foods. One sip and the intense black raspberry fruit is overwhelming, blending perfectly with the chocolate and clove spice, and the long, sweet finish that make this wine so delicious. The wine is black in color, intense, brooding, and yet perfectly balanced between sweet fruit and more complex, layered flavors.
As is traditional at Dashe Cellars, we fermented the zinfandel in our custom-made gridded tanks of 1,500 or 2,000 gallons, pumping the wine over the skins twice a day to extract the maximum flavor and color from the grapes. These gridded tanks allow us to submerge the cap of grape skins beneath the surface of the fermenting wine, to extract more color, body, and complexity from the grapes.
Rather than use commercial dried yeasts, we conduct the fermentation using only the natural yeast population on the grapes. During fermentation the temperature was allowed to get above 90° 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 barrels.
The wine was aged for 14 months in a mixture of French oak and American oak barrels, with about 18% of the wine aged in new oak. Every three months we racked the wine out of barrel to clarify the wine and aid in its development. In our blending trials, we added small amounts of both petite sirah (for structure and aging potential) and carignane (for a round texture and lovely raspberry fruit) in the wine. As the wine aged, it deepened in color and developed a complexity and firm structure that we believe will help the wine improve with up to eight years of bottle age.
|Wine maker notes
|As always, it’s always a nail-biter to get Late Harvest Zinfandel in so late in the season. We harvested in late October, and the grapes arrived at the winery well over 40° Brix of sugar.
We crushed the grapes to a small 1,500-gallon tank and as is our tradition at Dashe Cellars, we fermented the grapes naturally, using the native yeasts that naturally live on the skins of the grapes. Since the grapes were super ripe, the fermentation roared off at the start, and then rapidly slowed as the yeast created over 10% alcohol. The fermentation finally sputtered to a halt when the alcohol had reached about 14 percent and the sugar level was 12 percent. We always allow the wine to achieve its balance of sweetness and alcohol naturally, by letting the fermentation finish up on its own.
As is our tradition, the wine was aged in older French oak barrels to not overpower the intensity of the fruit. During our blending trials, we decided to stay with our tradition of bottling the wine as soon as possible to maintain its fresh fruit flavors and conserve its lovely sweet concentration and purity. The wine is unfined and received minimal handling to the bottle.
|Varietals: 88% Zinfandel, 6% Petite Sirah, 6% Carignan
Appellation: Dry Creek Valley; Sonoma County
Alcohol: 15.0% by vol.
Time in oak: 14 months
Oak: French & American; 18% new
Production: 4025 cases, 750mL; 250 cases, 375mL
Release date: April 1, 2003
Suggested retail price: $20.00 bottle, 750mL; $12.00 bottle, 375mL
Optimum time for consumption: 2003-2008