2020 Winter Release
Greetings from Dragonette Cellars
Special Winter Release & Announcing the Grand Opening of the “Study” in Los Olivos
The winter rains and cold have arrived, turning the hillsides a lovely shade of green. Sunny days are cool with enormous clouds in the brilliant blue sky, while nights are cold and the otherwise black skies twinkle with trillions of stars. The vineyards are bare and seemingly quiet, yet earthwork (composting, tilling, cover crops), and planning (evaluation of vine health and pruning protocols) are underway for 2020. And in the cellar, we are preparing for the bottling of the 2018 wines, who have enjoyed the extra time in barrel, evolving into more complete and complex wines. We enjoy all the seasons here, and winter is no exception. The cool, crisp days seem to move quickly, yet quietly, enveloped in beauty and timelessness. It is a fantastic time of the year to visit Santa Barbara.
In the tasting room, we have rapidly worked through the Fall release wines, and, after careful consideration are now ready to release the rest of the 2017 wines. Therefore, we hereby announce this special Winter Release of new wines! We have the exciting arrival of the longest aged 2017 Pinot Noirs, the Fiddlestix and Black Label, along with the 2017 Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills and the newest MJM, the wonderful 2016. For whites, we have two highly rated Chardonnays from Rita’s Crown and Duvarita. Many of these wines are reserved for the wine club, and thus we can only sell a very small amount of these wines to the general public. They will go even quicker than usual, so order now, or, better yet, join the Wine Club. That way you ensure your access to these wines every year. We hope you enjoy these wines. We enjoyed making them for you.
Finally, we announce the grand opening of the Dragonette Cellars Study in Los Olivos. With this new space we can offer guests a special, sit down educational and tasting experience that includes our most limited offerings including the reserve-tier “Black Label” wines. See below for more details.
2017 Pinot Noir, Fiddlestix Vineyard (Sta. Rita Hills)
The Fiddlestix vineyard performed admirably in 2017 despite the difficult conditions found elsewhere in Sta. Rita Hills. Yields were down, of course, but not nearly as dramatically as some other vineyards. Older vines (now 20 years old) are established and able to withstand difficult weather better than others. Grapes from five separate blocks (five different clones) comprise this wine, each of which was individually monitored, harvested, fermented, barreled, and aged. We fermented this wine with selective use of whole clusters (15% of the blend). The wine was aged for 18 months in French oak barrels (30% new).
The 2017 version of this wine is concentrated and deep, with its signature red fruit character, coiled around sufficient tannins to repay aging. The texture is velvety as usual, and the wine finishes very long, with great spice intrigue from whole clusters and well-integrated new oak. Not yet rated, but a worthy successor to the 2016 version of this wine which was given 95+ points by Jeb Dunnuck and 92 by Antonio Galloni. Extremely Limited. 300 cases produced, most of which is going to the wine club. Order now!
2017 Pinot Noir, Black Label (Sta. Rita Hills)
Our Black Label Pinot Noir is our most sought-after Pinot Noir. It is a reserve-tier blend of our favorite barrels from the vintage. Stylistically, this is the boldest, most dramatic Pinot Noir in our portfolio. We select individual barrels for their complexity, intensity, structure and velvety mouthfeel. This wine typically contains the highest percentage of new oak barrels and will be the most long lived of our Pinot Noirs.
In 2017, the wine was comprised of grapes from Bentrock (36%), Radian (25%), Fiddlestix (25%), John Sebastiano (7%), and Duvarita (7%). The wine was aged for 18 months in French oak barrels (50% new). This wine is always well received by the critics; the 2016 version of the Black Label received a whopping 97 points from Jeb Dunnuck and 94 Points from Galloni. Only 300 cases made, most of which is going to the Wine Club. There are approximately 20 cases left for the rest of the world.
2017 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
The 2017 SRH Pinot Noir combined fruit from multiple blocks and four distinct vineyards to create complexity and balance. We have always believed that blending diverse terroirs could yield a whole which would be 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.
In 2017 the wine hailed from the remote, windswept slopes of Bentrock (45%), the sandy hillsides of John Sebastiano (27%), the steep clay slopes of Spear (18%) and the well-drained shale soils of the renowned Fiddlestix vineyard (10%). The grapes were fermented carefully in small lots (7% whole clusters) and then carefully aged the wines on their lees for 16 months in neutral French oak barrels before bottling.
The incredibly small yields of 2017 meant that only 300 cases of this wine were produced; less than half than planned. This wine has not yet been rated, but its predecessor, the 2016, received a great review and 93 points from Jeb Dunnuck who called it “worth seeking out and a great example of the quality coming from this producer.” We like to agree.
2016 MJM Santa Ynez Valley (Syrah Blend)
Our signature Syrah, this wine is a selection of our favorite barrels of Syrah, blended with small amounts of Grenache (4%) and Viognier (1%), and then given extended barrel aging as dictated by the vintage character of the wine.
In 2016 this wine was selected from multiple blocks at three great vineyards: John Sebastiano (65%); Stolpman (27%); and Kimsey (8%). After selection and blending, the wine was put back to barrel and ultimately aged 27 months in oak barrels (36% new).
A product of the sparkling 2016 vintage, the 2016 MJM will be perhaps more drinkable in its youth than the burly 2015 MJM, yet still keep for 15 years at a minimum. The wine is large scaled and intense, with big black and blue fruit flavors, notes of game and spice, the wine features a full-bodied frame with tremendous structure and length. We are excited to bring her out into the light of day after a year of extended bottle aging.
Although slightly different stylistically, the 2016 is a worthy successor to the 2015 MJMs which was given 96+ points by Jeb Dunnuck and 94 by Galloni.
Production was extremely limited; only 300 cases were produced. This is mostly headed to the wine club. Order soon or miss out.
2017 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 south west facing blocks are steep and cobbled with large amounts of diatomaceous earth. The winds are constant and strong, with a feeling of saltiness from the nearby ocean and a decided marine chill. The Chardonnay in this block typically sets 2-2.5 tons per acre from a relatively small canopy. These low yields and long cool season results in ripeness at incredibly strong acid levels. We think this is a hallmark of great sites. The wines are dramatic and expressive, with a tremendously long finish.
The 2017 wine 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.
Jeb Dunnuck gushed over this wine giving it 95 points and stating:
“With beautiful overall balance, nicely integrated acidity, hints of salinity, and a great finish, it’s another brilliant effort, but there are only 200 cases produced.”
This wine is almost all going to the wine club, so get yours today.
2017 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).
The 2017 Duvarita Chardonnay was given a fantastic review and 96 points by Jeb Dunnuck:
“Similarly colored, the 2017 Chardonnay Duvarita Vineyard comes from sandy, loamy soils and was brought up in 35% new, larger format French cigar barrels. Golden fruits, brioche, toasted spices, white flowers, and white currant notes all emerge from this incredibly layered, medium to full-bodied, textured effort. It’s a powerful, sexy wine yet stays vibrant, balanced, and classically styled. It’s a killer Santa Barbara County Chardonnay!”
Extremely limited, Only 125 cases produced.
New Tasting Experiences in Los Olivos and at the Winery in Buellton
In addition to the new wines, we also have new experiences to help you explore the history, philosophy and wines of Dragonette Cellars. We have recently built out an area of our tasting room in Los Olivos for the Dragonette Cellars “Study”, which will provide space for in-depth, sit down, educational experiences. This tasting will include discussions of our inspiration and philosophy within the context of the global wine world; the geology, viticulture, and winemaking practices of our wines; and tastings of the most exclusive wines in the cellar, including the Black Label wines. In addition, we are expanding our Private Winery Tasting Program, with more times for tasting limited addition and library wines in an intimate setting at our production facility in Buellton. Depending upon your timing, you might well enjoy a visit from one of the winemaker/owners, while they are doing production work. Both tastings are made by appointment only. Book either the Study Experience in Los Olivos or the Winery Tour & Tasting among the barrels at our production facility in Buellton on our online reservation system. Discounts are available for Wine Club Members.
In the meantime, order some of these new wines soon, and enjoy them in health and happiness.
John, Steve, Brandon and the entire Dragonette Cellars team