Thursday, January 17th, 2013
Happy New Year, Events, and Upcoming New Releases
Happy new year from your friends at Dragonette Cellars! We hope you had a great holiday season and are looking forward to a fantastic 2013. We love the sense of energy the new year brings, and we are busily planning a full schedule of events, sales trips and new releases. So get out your calendars and come join us for some fun and educational tastings. Schedule is set out below.
Coming Soon – New Releases of 2011 Pinot Noirs and the 2011 Vogelzang Sauvignon Blanc
As most of you probably know, we have been sold out of the 2010 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir (a Wine Spectator “92”) for many months. We missed this complex and energetic appellation blend of fantastic vineyard sites. Well, the wait is almost over! The new SRH Pinot Noir (the blend includes renowned vineyards such as Fiddlestix, Hilliard Bruce, Zotovich and La Rinconada plus some great newer sites) will be released in the next couple weeks, along with a unique, fascinating, tiny production, single vineyard Pinot Noir from Radian Vineyard (pictured here). We will also be releasing the new 2011 Vogelzang Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. Many of you remember the fantastic 2009 (92 points in the Wine Advocate). Well, we skipped 2010, but felt that the 2011 material justified a single vineyard Vogelzang. Miniscule production on this one as well, so watch your inbox for the release email. The Radian and Vogelzang will undoubtedly sell out fast, and we know you will not want to miss these wines.
We will be travelling around the state to some fantastic events. Come join us, and make sure to ask if there is anything special under the table. Most times, there is!
Wednesday, January 23, 2013, 7 to 9:30 pm
Stars of Santa Barbara
Beverly Hills, CA
Join us at the beautiful Peninsula Hotel for an evening full of great Santa Barbara County wines. Come and taste our soon-to-be-released 2011 Pinot Noirs along with our full line-up. Click here for tickets and more info: http://starsofsantabarbara123.eventbrite.com/
Sunday January 27, 2013, 5-7 pm
Sta. Rita Hills Tasting
3rd Corner Wine Shop & Bistro
Palm Desert, CA
The Sta. Rita Hills AVA is quickly becoming one of the most respected Pinot Noir and Chardonnay growing regions in California. Don’t miss this opportunity to meet with winemakers and get a taste of what Sta. Rita Hills wines are all about. We will be pouring our new 2011 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir, along with other new releases.
Tickets ($25) available through 3rd Corner Wine Shop and Bistro,
73101 Highway 111, Palm Desert, CA (760) 837-9600
For more information on this event and the Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers, click here: http://www.staritahills.com/events.html
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Winemaker Pouring at The Vine at Bridges
We return to The Vine at Bridges to celebrate the release of our new Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir. For more info, click here: http://thevineatbridges.com/events.php
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Winemaker Pouring at Willmore
Long Beach, CA
We will be joining Ernie at Willmore to pour through current and new releases in his
fabulous new wine bar. Call (562) 244-4517 or follow Willmore on Facebook for
Thursday, February 7, 2013
San Diego Wine Affair
San Diego, CA
Always a sellout, this elegant event brings some of the finest wine producers in the world to pour for 400+ patrons and trade participants with the mission to benefit children’s charities in San Diego. This year’s event will host over 30 of the world’s finest wineries and sommeliers, food will served by San Diego’s best restaurants and caterers, a first class private auction, and proceeds to benefit children’s charities.
For tickets and more info, click here: http://www.facebook.com/events/404803759556933/
Saturday, February 9, 2013
Pacific Coast Wine Festival
The Island Hotel, Newport Beach, CA
Highly desired wines, decadent dining and rare auction offerings abound at sixth-annual Pacific Coast Wine Festival, benefiting the Pacific Symphony. We are proud to be a featured winery at this remarkable event.
For tickets and more info, click here: http://www.pacificsymphony.org/main.taf?p=4,3,2
Saturday February 9, 2013, 1:30-4:30 pm
Altadena Country Club, Altadena, CA
Join us in the sunny San Gabriel Valley for the 6th annual PinotFest. We will be pouring our new Pinot releases (as well as some other treasures) at the Grand Tasting. Come and taste great Pinot Noir from all of California’s finest appellations, and more.
For tickets and more info, click here: http://www.pasadenapinotfest.com/Grand_Tasting-2013.html
March 9-10, 2013
Del Mar Fairgrounds, Del Mar, CA 3-6 pm (consumer)
One of the largest and most comprehensive tasting events in the state, set at the amazing Del Mar Fairgrounds. Taste a wide variety of amazing wines from small artisanal producers.
See http://www.familywinemakers.org/tastings/tastings.cfm for more details.
April 20, 2013, 1:00-4:00 pm
The Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Association’s marquee event will be taking place this year at the historic Mission Santa Ines in Solvang. Come celebrate Spring with Dragonette Cellars and 116 of their closest friends (i.e. all the members of the Vintners’ Association) for great wines, amazing local chefs’ creations and live music. Always a blast.
More information at http://www.sbcountywines.com/events.html
2012 was a terrific year for us here at Dragonette Cellars, thanks to all of you. We appreciate your support, and we look forward to seeing you in the tasting room and around the state. 2013 promises to be an exciting year for us, with several new wines coming soon along with a few other surprises.
Monday, October 29th, 2012
Harvest News and New Releases of the 2011 Sauvignon Blancs, the 2010 Syrahs (Seven and MJM) and the Wine Club Only 2011 Pinot Noir, Ampelos Vineyard.
We are entering the homestretch of Harvest 2012. The Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Noirs are put to bed, and the Syrah and Grenache are almost all in. We have had a fantastic season so far and look forward to making terrific wines. Indeed, after 2010 and 2011, this was almost an uneventful growing season. Spring weather was very good; there was no frost, and we had warmth during bloom and set, meaning that yields were reasonable, but not excessive. As we have mentioned repeatedly, we buy fruit by the acre in most cases, and reasonable yields mean healthy crop load for the canopy and, frankly, better economics. Also, we had a good amount of heat this summer, meaning we had sufficient plant energy for ripening, without any of the torrid heat spikes we have seen in past years. Highs briefly climbed into the 100s on a couple of occasions, but nothing like 2010 or 2006. Finally, August, September and October have been mostly rain free, meaning that we have had no botrytis (rot) to speak of. We expect quality to be very high for the 2012s. Stay tuned.
Now, for wines in bottle. We are in the midst of shipping out the new releases to the wine club members, who, as you all know, get the first chance to buy the new stuff. Therefore, we can now announce the release of the newest wines to the wider public. These new wines include two new Sauvignon Blancs; one an appellation blend from Happy Canyon, and the other a single vineyard bottling from the exceptional Grassini Family Vineyard. We also have two new Syrah-based wines to release; the 2010 Seven and the long awaited 2010 MJM. All of these wines are very limited in supply, and we suggest that you act fast to purchase these before they run out again.
We know that many of you (like us) crave Pinot Noir. We did recently bottle a new Pinot Noir, the 2011 Pinot Noir Ampelos Vineyard; however, it is made in such small quantities that it was immediately sold out and will only be available to the wine club. We are saving a few for new wine club signups. Our next Pinot Noirs are months away.
With that, here are the new wines.
Our 2011 Sauvignon Blancs
As most of you know, we are, we think justly proud of our Sauvignon Blanc program. We source fruit from two of the finest Sauvignon Blanc vineyards anywhere, and spend more time out in those vineyards that just about anyone. Consequently, the critics have responded positively:
“Dragonette Cellars has quickly made a name for itself as one of California’s top sources for sauvignon blanc.” Josh Raynolds, Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar
“[N]o one does [Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc] better than Dragonette.” Antonio Galloni, Wine Advocate
“Dragonette Cellars is pushing the boundaries of the Sauvignon Blanc Frontier in the Happy Canyon district of Santa Barbara County.” MaryAnn Worobiec, Wine Spectator
Our new releases are, we think, the best Sauvignon Blancs we have made to date. Part of that is an interesting, but ultimately excellent vintage for Sauvignon Blanc, 2011. Another factor is that we have dialed in our blocks in the two vineyards we work with, and have, we think, come up with an ideal ratio of barrels, stainless barrels and tanks for these fine wines. So here they are; as usual made in very small quantities.
2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara – $28
The Happy Canyon bottling is a blend of grapes from Vogelzang (55%) and Grassini (45%). The wine was fermented and aged on its lees for 11 months in 85% neutral oak barrels and 15% in stainless steel barrels. The wine demonstrates the classic Vogelzang tropical fruit notes along with the elegant energy of the Grassini vineyard and great body and length. Goes with everything, and nothing. We think this wine improves significantly upon the 2010 Santa Ynez Valley bottling, which received glowing review and 91 points in several publications.
Our Tasting Note: Aromas of mango, guava, cantaloupe, white peaches, fresh pineapple and lemon curd are complicated by chalky minerals, floral notes of honeysuckle, orange blossom and geranium, and spice notes of fresh ginger, bay leaf and clove. The palate is substantial, with medium to full bodied flavors of peach, melon, pineapple and kiwi fruits that build with air and turn gently creamy. The wine finishes long, with ripe, yet assertive acidity, framed by distinctive, lime and lemon tinged citrus notes and hints of minerals and sea spray.
2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Grassini Family Vineyard, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara – $38
A small production, reserve level blend of our favorite lots coming off the Grassini vineyard. This extremely limited, 125 case bottling is a blend of 5 barrels of wine; one stainless steel, three neutral French oak and 1 new. The wine is incredibly complex, built in a more mineral style, but with plenty of green spectrum fruits, spice and great length. It has been a big hit with all who have tasted it. It will sell out quickly, so act fast.
Our Tasting Note: This wine displays fruit aromas of honeydew, green apple, yellow watermelon, and fresh coconut flesh, along with floral and herbal notes of white flowers, mint, lavender, fresh tarragon, bay leaves, and hints of balsa wood and bright green grass. As the wine opens it further displays fig, white peach, mint and a resinous note of basil. In the mouth, the wine is medium to full bodied showing riper melon (cantaloupe, honeydew), white nectarine, and creamy key lime and lemon meringue, with complicating tones of raw almond, hazelnut, cardamom and clove.
2010 Seven, Central Coast – $40
This wine is a Rhone blend of Syrah, Grenache & Mourvedre. It comes from Seven spectacular vineyards and the hands of Seven people. Predominantly from Syrah, it represents a blend of wines from truly outstanding vineyards from diverse locations, each adding complexity and interest to the final bland. The Syrah was aged in oak barrels (50% new) for 22 month before we blended in small amounts of Grenache, Mourvedre and Viognier for additional complexity and bottled without filtration. Although an infant, it is already starting to show off its aromatics (black fruits, meat and effusive floral notes (roses)), with plenty more to come.
Our Tasting Note: Explosive aromas of blackberry, boysenberry, blueberry and grape jam, framed by deeply pitched notes of asphalt, peat, bitter walnut, and pine, along with animal scents of smoked and dried meats and rare beef. In the mouth the wine is full bodied and bracing, with blackberry fruits, creosote and dried herbs lifted by a solid spine of brisk acids and large scaled fruit and wood spiced tannins, promising a long life ahead in the bottle.
2010 MJM, Santa Ynez Valley – $58
As most of you know, MJM is the cornerstone of our Rhone program. It is the most penetrating and ageworthy of the Syrahs we make and therefore we dedicate it to our wives, Mitchi, Jen and Michelle. Unlike prior years, the cool 2010 vintage gave wines for more upfront fruit and softer tannins, and therefore, we bottled the wine after 22 months in barrel (approximately 37% new). We added splashes of Grenache, Mourvedre and Viognier for complexity. We have been sold out of MJM for a long time, and we are thrilled to have it back. As always, this wine is extremely limited and likely to sell out quickly.
Our Tasting Note: This Syrah-based blend displays explosive aromas of blackberry, boysenberry, blueberry and grape jam, framed by deeply pitched notes of asphalt, peat, bitter walnut, and pine, along with animal scents of smoked and dried meats and rare beef. In the mouth the wine is full bodied and bracing, with blackberry fruits, creosote and dried herbs lifted by a solid spine of brisk acids and large scaled fruit and wood spiced tannins, promising a long life ahead in the bottle.
2011 Pinot Noir Ampelos Vineyards – $54 (Sold Out – Wine Club Only)
We’ll be brief. This 80 case production was the only Pinot Noir we felt we could bottle after a year in barrel, and it is really coming around nicely. The wine has classic juicy, sexy Santa Rita Hills black cherry aromas and flavors, with some interesting herbal notes, a terrific texture and great length for such a young wine. If you were on the fence about joining the wine club, this wine should push you over. We wish we had more!
It has been an amazing harvest and an incredible year. We are welcoming several new states this month – Hello New York, Washington DC/Virginia, and Florida! Others are hopefully coming on line soon. In the meantime, we are always ready to ship direct to you. Keep in mind that everything here is handcrafted in tiny quantities, so please place your order as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. Visit our online store, or come see us in Los Olivos!
As always, thanks for your support.
Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
Greetings from Santa Barbara Wine Country:
We are excited to announce the release of three new 2010 Pinot Noirs. Ever since the quick disappearance of the 2010 Presidio Vineyard Pinot Noir, we have been itching to get the rest of the 2010 Pinots in bottle. However, patience is one of the key ingredients in fine wine, and additional barrel aging creates complexity and enhances depth and integration. In December, we did exhaustive tastings of every barrel of Pinot Noir and determined that the time had come. And so in January we bottled three new wines. We have fulfilled our promise to the Wine Club that they get first crack at the new releases, and so we are ready to offer them to the wider public. As always, these Pinot Noirs are extremely limited and will sell out fast. Act now or, better yet, join the wine club and guarantee that you will get at least a few of these terrific Pinot Noirs.
2010 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills $42
This wine is a blend of top sites in the Sta. Rita Hills appellation, where foggy mornings give way to windy afternoons with brilliant sunshine, perfect for Pinot Noir. This wine is composed of grapes from the dramatic, steep and windswept slopes of John Sebastiano Vineyard, with some additions from Cargasacchi, Fiddlestix, La Encantada and Zotovich. The grapes are hand harvested and sorted in the vineyard in the cold early mornings, destemmed without crushing, given a 4-7 day cold soak, carefully fermented (native yeast where possible), drained and pressed straight to barrel. After 15 months aging in barrel, without racking, the wine is painstakingly blended for complexity and balance. This wine is already exuberantly generous, and it will go fast as always. Only 300 cases made.
Our Tasting Note: The dramatic nose combines spicy dark black cherry and red raspberry notes with vanilla, cocoa, nutmeg and hints of fresh herbs. On the palate this fairly full bodied wine is substantial but measured, combining waves of fully ripe fruit (fresh and preserved cherries (Luxardo) and sweet raspberries) with hints of chocolate and brown sugar. Fresh ripe acidity and serious but pliant tannins result in a long, velvety-textured and satisfying finish. Pair with grilled lamb or beef, mushrooms, or savory sauced pork dishes.
2010 Pinot Noir, Fiddlestix Vineyard $54
The famed Fiddlestix vineyard performed terrifically in the tricky 2010 vintage. For the past several years, we have selected clones 113 and 115 from particularly well situated blocks in this expertly managed vineyard. The 113 gives spice and high toned red fruits, the 115 a deeper darker classic black cherry fruit with great structure. With partial whole cluster fermentation and 33% new French oak adding complexity, this wine has all the stuffing to improve for several years in bottle. Compared to the 2009 this wine is more vivacious and exuberant early on, showing lots of rich fruit flavors.
Our Tasting Note: On the nose, the wine shows classic Fiddlestix red fruits (cranberry, raspberry and candied cherry) with spice cake, a touch of cocoa and some minty herbal notes from the whole clusters. The palate is medium to full bodied, but never heavy, as classic Sta. Rita Hills black cherry, hints of cola and baking spices envelope ripe and refreshing acidity, and solid balancing tannic structure. Extremely limited, only 150 cases made.
2010 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, The Black Label $75
A remarkable blend of our best barrels of 2010, this is destined to the best Pinot we have made to date. The wine is comprised of 2 barrels of Cargasacchi Santa Rita Hills clone 115, 1 of Fiddlestix clone 115 and one barrel of La Encantada clone 667. The La Encantada barrel (new Francois Freres) was so deep, concentrated and complex that we simply had to consider making a reserve level wine. Blending trials confirmed that it married perfectly with Cargasacchi, and the addition of the spicy, higher toned Fiddlestix made it even better. This is the MJM of Pinot Noir, and so it received the Black Label. Less than 100 cases made.
Our Tasting Note: On the nose, dark, brooding, super black cherry and hints of game from the Cargassachi, classic high register red fruits, with baking spices from the Fiddlestix, and sweet black cherry, forest floor and vanilla from La Encantada. On the palate the wine is bigger and brasher than the “SRH”, with waves of fruit, baking spices (pumpkin pie, cinnamon), and hints of perfectly integrated toast. The texture is pure, silky and full bodied, and finishes long and sappy, with lift provided by round acidity and ripe tannins.
2011 Rose of Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills $20
Speaking of Pinot Noir, we made a tiny amount of Rose from the saignee of our fantastic 2011 Pinots. Juice is pulled from the fermenters after 24 hours of skin contact, transferred to neutral barrels and fermented to complete dryness. Substantial for a Rose, the wine drinks like a baby pinot noir, with cherry and cola notes, and luscious, lip smacking acidity. A warm sunny President’s Day weekend put a serious dent in our limited supply of 50 cases. Get some of this gem today.
Small Production Means Limited Availability
It is an old story at this point, but we sold out of 2008 and 2009 Pinots very quickly. Many of you were left disappointed. We don’t want this to happen to you! Order today.
Note to Wine Club members: You received the 2010 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills in the winter shipment and you will receive the Fiddlestix and Black Label in future shipments; however, if you want any more than your present allocation, you should order additional bottles now. Past history indicates that the Pinots will be gone and reorders impossible. You will have to trust us and your past experience and know these are beautiful, painstakingly hand crafted wines that will disappear in a flash.
As always, we thank you for your patronage and for joining us in our journey. We have been delighted by the critical and consumer response to our wines, and we promise to continue searching out the best vineyards, applying best vineyard management practices to our blocks, and meticulously working in the cellar to make great wines from this amazingly diverse, world class wine region. The best is yet to come, as we mature as a region and as a winery.
We look forward to seeing you soon and sharing our latest creations with you. Oh, and make sure you get some Pinot Noir before it disappears…
Thursday, January 19th, 2012
Make sure your mailing list and wine club information is up to date…Pinot Noir is coming soon!
Wednesday, October 6th, 2010
As you probably know, winemaking involves careful attention to detail in all steps of the process, including care of the maturing wines in the cellar. The wines are not just sitting idly in barrels; we are constantly monitoring, topping, racking if need be, and watching other indicators. The typical 18-24 month period, known as elevage, is actually fraught with activity, analysis, and contemplation. Topping our barrels the other day and occasionally tasting as I went along (it is not a totally thankless job), I was truly excited about the quality of the wines we made in 2008 and 2009. Apparently you have been too – the 2008 Pinot Noirs are flying off the shelves (only a bit of the Fiddlestix remains). The 2008 Syrah we just bottled promises great things when it is ready for prime time as well. And the 2009s are a cornucopia of terrific new vineyards and varietals. It is an exciting time for us.
And yet there is a serious recession going on. We get it. We see the effects everywhere. In the wine business, for some this has meant troubled wineries, distributor consolidation and heavy discounting by distressed producers. Some of these “deals” are indeed deals, and some are perhaps wineries dumping less than their best wines. In some cases the wines should never have been priced as high to begin with. We know that much of this wine is being sold below cost – it has to be. This does not bode well for the health of the winery. But more importantly perhaps, this era of discounting and price cutting can have serious ramifications for wine quality going forward. If price is all that matters, there are ways to save money – starting in the vineyard. Growers can produce vastly more grapes per acre, they can skip important mid season steps, and they can skimp and save on labor, meaning, usually, lower quality fruit. Wineries can buy grapes from huge industrially farmed vineyards in poor locations. Or we can stop producing wine grapes here in Santa Barbara entirely and buy bulk juice from someplace else with super cheap land and labor. But is that what wine is all about?
We feel very strongly that the consuming public and in particular our fans, can tell the difference between wines from only top vineyards, meticulously farmed and carefully vinified from those made “on the cheap” with super high yields, indifferent vineyards and all manner of winemaker tricks. We believe that you who have tasted our wines (and those from other serious producers) appreciate the purity and expression of a fine wine. More serious wines cost more to make. There is a reason that the French and Italians, and more recently the Americans have classified grape growing areas to highlight quality, limited permitted yields and banned certain practices. In short all wine is not the same.
We believe that despite the downturn, the wine drinking public is becoming more and more educated in terms of wine quality; meaning grape origin and growing practices, winemaking processes and producer commitment. We can tell this by the types of questions we are getting in the tasting room, and the interest we see in us and other small artisanal producers here in Santa Barbara Wine Country. We think they can tell the difference in the purity of wines produced by hand from excellent raw materials and without manipulation. And, we believe that as more and more people become wine lovers they will appreciate and demand quality wines over innocuous ones that simply happen to be cheap. We pledge to continue to farm grapes and produce wine with ultra high quality as a goal for those wine consumers.
As we go along with these mailing list updates, we intend to continue to inform you, the wine loving public, as to the care and attention our wines receive the particulars and costs of high quality farming, and other salient topics. We think you will appreciate knowing a little more about the realities of grape farming and wine production. We want you to understand our philosophy and why we started making wine in the first place. So stay tuned!
Wednesday, August 25th, 2010
As most wine production people know, when it comes to bottling, the best a winemaker can hope for is that nothing goes terribly wrong. One expects a bit of broken glass, label malfunctions, and cork setting problems but hopes to avoid major problems that leave crews sitting around idle for hours while repairmen argue in Italian over the un-locatable fix to the problem. For example our first bottling ever involved about 25 cases of bad-labeled bottles and four hours of troubleshooting the problem before we had to abandon the bottling and reschedule it for a few days later when replacement parts could be found. In another (very small) bottling, only seven of the eight fillers worked properly, and after messing with the line for a couple hours, we gave up and had to uncork the half filled bottles and pour the wine back into tank. Not the most efficient process to be sure. There is a lot riding on these fateful days. Our precious juice has made a very long (and expensive) journey from vine to fermenter to barrel and we are anxious to get it safely into bottle.
Of course bottling day is the culmination of many months of planning. We have to design and re-design the labels several times (and then submit them to the Federal Tax and Trade Bureau for approval), evaluate numerous bottle samples from several manufacturers (and of course, the one you like best will likely be back-ordered after spending 3 weeks making the decision to use it), evaluate cork samples, and choose wax colors (yes, we are gluttons for punishment and wax all of our bottles by hand). Not to be overlooked in the bottling process is racking and blending the wine which is a delicate operation, particularly when you bottle unfiltered, and we have to carefully separate the juice from the lees. On bottling day itself, there is a whir of activity, with unloading bottles, reloading the filled bottles into cases, palletizing the cases and storing the finished ones out of the ways. The entire operation looks like a giant beehive; people scampering in all directions, all-intent on their work activities.
So it is with great relief that we announce that despite a few hiccups, Dragonette Cellars had a hugely successful (and remarkably efficient) bottling last week. We managed to get about 1100 cases of 2008 Syrah and 2009 Sauvignon Blanc into bottle with only a single broken bottle (and that was only an empty!) and only a handful of bad labels. It should be noted here that we did narrowly avoid having 325 cases of Syrah being unlabeled as the freight company lost 1 of the boxes of labels shipped from our manufacturer. Luckily, I was able to track the package down to Santa Maria and was able to dash off and go get it as we bottled up one of our Sauvignon Blancs first. Whew!
A huge shout out goes to the friends and family that came out to give a hand with this bottling. The crew was magnificent and made the day as easy as it could be. Grazie!
Wednesday, February 24th, 2010
OK, OK, OK, we give. Everyone kept asking, “When are you going to have a wine club I can join?” The wait is over. You will now be able to get all the Dragonette Cellars wines you want without lifting a finger. We have a few different options that will hopefully fill everyone’s needs. Wine Club signups can be done either through our online store or by emailing/faxing/mailing in the order form.
Thursday, September 24th, 2009
We are proud to announce the release of our very limited production 2007 Pinot Noirs.