2018 Fall Release
We are pleased to announce the Fall Release of new wines from Dragonette Cellars.
** Wine Club Members see below for details on your shipment **
These wines all come from the excellent 2016 vintage, and include the following low production, handcrafted wines:
2016 Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills
2016 Pinot Noir Duvarita Vineyard (Extremely Limited)
2016 Pinot Noir, Radian Vineyard (Wine Club Fall 2018)
2016 Syrah “Seven” (89% Syrah, 10% Grenache, 1% Viognier)
2016 Syrah John Sebastiano Vineyard (Wine Club Exclusive Fall 2018)
2016 Grenache John Sebastiano Vineyard (Extremely Limited)
2016 Sauvignon Blanc Grassini Family Vineyard (Wine Club Exclusive Fall 2018)
2016 Sauvignon Blanc Vogelzang Vineyard (Extremely Limited)
2016 Chardonnay, Rita’s Crown Vineyard (Extremely Limited)
2016 Chardonnay, Duvarita Vineyard (Extremely Limited)
The 2016 Vintage
2016 was a highly successful vintage. We finally enjoyed significant rainfall in the winter (though not the drought busting amounts seen by our friends up north). We also avoided the truly terrible May weather of 2015 (and 2017) that led to very poor set and extremely low yields. Decent 2016 production was welcome in helping offset the drastically (almost tragically) low production in the years bookending 2016. Wines were typically elegant, fresh and vibrant with good concentration and depth. These wines will drink well young but still have the stuffing and structure to repay mid-term aging.
Wine Club Members
This Fall Release does not affect your current wine club allocation. Your orders from this Fall Release will be shipped together with your Fall Wine Club allocation. You will receive these wines in your Fall 2018 Shipment:
2016 Sauvignon Blanc Grassini Family Vineyard
2016 Pinot Noir Radian Vineyard
2016 Syrah John Sebastiano Vineyard
The Release will remain open until September 15. Allocation requests will be collected online, and processed in the order received based upon wine club membership level and order history. Wines will ship in October, weather permitting (expedited shipping options available).
2016 Pinot Noir, Radian Vineyard (Sta. Rita Hills)
Radian is one of the most dramatic, remote and extreme sites in Santa Barbara County. It is located at the far western edge of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation, high atop the sparse, chaparral and poison oak studded Santa Rosa Hills, and it literally wraps itself around crevasses and steep cliffs, its tiny roads literally clinging to hillsides in some spots. From here one has a direct sightline to the huge expanse of the mighty Pacific Ocean, whose influence completely dominates the site, from the cold powerful winds, to the high proportion of prehistoric algae skeletons (the silica based diatomaceous earth) comprising the soils. This vineyard actually seems to rest, somewhat precariously, upon this remarkably hardscrabble land. We identified this site at its inception and chose the most extreme blocks, which yield a tiny crop of small clusters. The resulting wines are intense, with a fascinating mineral streak and a remarkable depth of flavor even at lower alcohol levels. We have received several outstanding reviews on the wines from this site.
2016 was an excellent vintage at Radian, with healthy vines producing a small crop of fabulous grapes. The wine was aged on its lees for 18 months in French oak barrels (25% new). The wine has great complexity and depth of flavor balanced by terrific energy and mineral notes. Very Limited, only 490 cases produced.
2016 Pinot Noir, Duvarita Vineyard (Santa Barbara County)
Duvarita Vineyard, just west of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation lies on south-facing slopes of almost pure sand. The grapes here are farmed biodynamically. The low vigor soils, small canopy and a low fruit zone combine to make this one of the lowest yielding and earliest ripening vineyards we farm. The small clusters here give wines that are lean and elegant, with terrific intensity, minerality and a remarkable depth of flavor even at lower alcohol levels.
2016 was an excellent vintage at Duvarita. The wine was aged on its lees for 18 months in French oak barrels (14% new). The wine has great volume and depth and is, at this point, only hinting at its usual kaleidoscopic aromatics, which are certain to unfold with time. We recently received word that the 2015 Duvarita received 95 points in the Wine Enthusiast, and with supplies extremely low, you should secure some of the 2016 without delay. Extremely Limited. Only 165 cases produced.
2016 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
The SRH Pinot Noir is all about complexity and balance. From the inception of our winery we have believed that blending Pinot Noir from diverse vineyard blocks and sites would create a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Wines form the warmer parts of the SRH would provide dramatic fruits and baking spices, wines from the cooler portions would provide, higher toned red fruits, fresh herbs, minerals and great acidity. Over the years we have selected vineyard sources for the purpose of crafting this wine, and in 2016 we blended grapes from 7 different vineyards to make this wine sing the song of the Santa Rita Hills – beautifully pure, fairly rich red fruits, excellent spices and big but beautiful structure. We carefully age the wines on their lees to limit movement and retain freshness and energy. In 2016 the wine was comprised of grapes from Bentrock (35%), John Sebastiano (22%), La Encantada (20%), Radian (10%), Fiddlestix (7%), Cargasacchi (4%), Spear (2%). The wine was aged on its lees for 16 months in French oak barrels (10% new) before bottling. It is already displaying excellent aromatic and flavor complexity.
2016 Syrah “Seven” (Santa Ynez Valley)
Seven is our Syrah-based blend, originally named for the seven exceptional cool climate vineyard sites from which it was comprised. We have refined our vineyard sources for this wine over the years, selecting precise blocks and clones to increase aromatic and flavor complexity, rather than sheer fruit power. The 2016 Seven is comprised of 89% Syrah, 10% Grenache and 1% Viognier. The wine is sourced from John Sebastiano Vineyard (54%) Stolpman Vineyard (30%), Kimsey (8%) and Spear (8%). The wine was aged in French oak barrels and puncheons (10% new) for 18 months before blending and bottling.
We are thrilled with the performance of this wine, as it is already beginning to show off explosive, complex aromatics (red, blue and black fruits, spices and meats), a rich, yet lifted palate, smooth texture and a scintillatingly long finish for such a young wine. We expect this wine to continue to develop over the coming years and to last for well over a decade. Limited. Only 575 cases produced.
2016 Syrah John Sebastiano Vineyard (Sta. Rita Hills)
John Sebastiano Vineyard is a dramatic hillside site on the very eastern edge of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. It is one of the coolest sites planted to Rhone varieties in all of California, and we have been buying fruit by the acre here since its first leaf. The Syrah here enjoys an extraordinarily long cool growing season, and these grapes benefit from long hang time without the development of excess sugars or overripe elements and plenty of acid and tannin. We source fruit from 4 separate Syrah blocks, each with different aspect, slope and clone/rootstock combination; the result being additional aromatic and flavor complexity. This remarkably expressive wine demonstrates a cooler, blue and black fruit style, with lots of spices, and fantastic length. This wine was not produced in 2015. WINE CLUB EXCLUSIVE. Only 240 cases produced.
2016 Grenache, John Sebastiano Vineyard (Sta. Rita Hills)
Our John Sebastiano Vineyard Grenache grows on a steep, southeast facing hillside of fascinating diversity. On the eastern edge, the block is almost pure sand, while as one moves to the west, there is heavier clay loam mixed with the sand. Moving west the block contains longer rows which start at higher elevation and extend to lower elevation than the eastern rows. As a result, we pick this block in several different passes, sometimes as much as two weeks apart. Due to the cool western location and steep windy aspect, this block enjoys a long cool growing season, giving excellent aroma and flavor compounds at lower sugars, with solid acidity. We ferment the grapes from each pick with differing percentages of whole clusters based upon fruit and stem character of each section. The sandier sections tend to give smaller clusters with more high-toned aromatics, and good spicy stems. The more heavily clay sections provide weight, structure and depth. We blend the diverse wines from these sections to make a finished wine that is typically cool, energetic and mineral-laden, with high toned red and black fruits, and great aromatics. Extremely Limited. Only 220 cases produced.
2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Grassini Family Vineyard (Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara)
Grassini is an exceptional vineyard located upon small hills and river benches of well drained, super fine clay loam soils and serpentinite in the southern part of Happy Canyon. The vineyard is meticulously managed and farmed to our specifications for low yields and high quality. We source fruit from three distinct blocks and harvest, press and ferment them separately in a mixture of French oak barrels and stainless steel. This single vineyard wine was crafted from our favorite barrels which were given extended aging. Fermented and aged in 75% oak (5% new) and 25% stainless steel, the wine developed kaleidoscopic aromas and flavors, from peach, honeydew, kiwi fruit, granny smith apple, pineapple and fresh coconut, to stony mineral notes of granite, graphite, and a touch of sea shell, to fresh herbs (thyme, basil) and spices (nutmeg, clove). WINE CLUB EXCLUSIVE. Only 180 cases produced.
2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Vogelzang Vineyard (Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara)
Vogelzang is situated on a gently sloping bed of well drained, gravelly loam soil with serpentinite in the heart of Happy Canyon. We’ve leased several acres here for a decade now, taking full responsibility for pruning choices, canopy and crop management and deficit-irrigation strategies. Fruit from Vogelzang is of the highest possible quality, meticulously farmed for low yields. We harvest these blocks in multiple passes to ensure ideal ripeness levels. The wine is immediately whole cluster pressed, briefly settled and then transferred to French oak barrels of varying sizes (228L, 350L, 500L, 276L “cigars”), 12% new, for fermentation and aging. After one year in barrel, the wine is racked to tank where it harmonizes for approximately 7 months before bottling.
The 2015 version of this wine was the second highest scoring 2015 Sauvignon Blanc (worldwide) in the Wine Spectator. Extremely Limited. Only 235 cases produced.
2016 Chardonnay, Rita’s Crown Vineyard. (Sta. Rita Hills)
Rita’s Crown is a spectacular vineyard at some of the highest elevations in the Santa Rita Hills. Located right above the historic Mount Carmel monastery, our Chardonnay block is incredibly steep and windswept. The block faces south/southwest and has an incredible view of much of the notable, even famous vineyards along Santa Rosa Road. Up here, one feels a certain indescribable timelessness. Soils here are sand and clay loam, with large deposits of diatomaceous earth, giving the sand a ghostly white color and reflecting heat off the ground. The winds are constant and strong, with a feeling of saltiness from the nearby ocean and a decided marine chill. Chardonnay from the site struggles to grow, though we have been able to coax a reasonable canopy and a small yield of intensely flavored grapes. A strong sensation of minerals and chalk seems to permeate the resulting wines, despite their intense tropical and stone fruits and laser-like acidity. The wines are dramatic and expressive here, with a tremendously long finish.
The 2016 wine was harvested in two separate passes and each fermented separately in French oak barrels, 20% new. The resulting wine went through partial malolactic fermentation in barrel and was then aged for 17 months on its lees, without stirring, before selection, blending and bottling. Extremely Limited. Only 290 cases produced.
2016 Chardonnay, Duvarita Vineyard (Santa Barbara County)
In addition to fantastic Pinot Noir, the biodynamic Duvarita Vineyard grows intense yet balanced Chardonnay from its gentle slopes of sandy soils further down the hill. Wines here are medium bodied and elegant, with a stony minerality and a remarkable depth of flavor. These wines evolve slowly and will absolutely repay bottle aging (under appropriate storage conditions).
2016 saw a small crop which was individually harvested in the cool morning hours, with field sorting. We gently pressed the whole clusters, settled the juice overnight and then transferred the juice directly to barrels for fermentation and aging, with partial malolactic fermentation occurring spontaneously in barrel. The resulting wine is aged for 18 months on its lees without stirring, before selection, blending and bottling. We love the balance and texture of this wine. Extremely Limited. Only 200 cases produced.
Place your orders soon, quantities are severely limited for most wines.
John, Steve, Brandon and the entire Dragonette Cellars team