Dashe Cellars Review
Reviewed: June 2, 2013 by
Martin D. Redmond
Published: June 19, 2013
I have the good fortune of living in the East Bay, between Oakland and San Jose. It’s a wine-lover's paradise. I live within a 90-minute drive of Napa Valley, Sonoma, the Santa Cruz Mountains, and Livermore Valley wine regions.
Even so, I frequently find myself also taking advantage of the multitude of urban wineries in the East Bay. That’s because the East Bay features some of California’s finest urban wineries. While they may lack the bucolic vibe of a winery located amidst the vineyards, what they do have is access to great fruit from diverse vineyard sources, and proximity to all that an urban environment has to offer - restaurants, theatres, museums, etc. It’s a 20-30 minute drive for me, and just 15-30 minutes from San Francisco by car, ferry or BART.
Dashe Cellars is located in warehouse they share with JC Cellars, close to Jack London Square in downtown Oakland, California. Michael and Ann Dashe founded the winery in 1996. Michael Dashe, who grew up on Southern California, is the Winemaker. Anne Dashe, who grew up in France, is the General Manager, but she also lends her expertise and refinement of her French trained palate to the blending of every Dashe wine. Between the two, they have 40-plus years experience in the wine business, including experience at some big-time wineries such as Ridge Vineyards, Far Niente, Chappellet, Schramsberg Wine Cellars in California; Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château La Dominique in France, and Cloudy Bay in New Zealand.
Dashe is best known for their Zinfandels, but their impressive portfolio of wines also includes Riesling, Rosé, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a late harvest Zinfandel dessert wine. The fact that Dashe is best known for their Zinfandels is no surprise given Mike’s experience at Ridge Vineyards, where he was assistant winemaker under Vintner Hall of Fame Winemaker Paul Draper. It shows in the Dashe wines which are a reflection of the vineyard-focused, minimalist style of winemaking followed at Ridge. It was at Ridge where Mike learned to craft wines layer by layer through careful trials. Before he left Ridge to establish Dashe with Anne, Mike was put in charge of Ridge’s Lytton Springs winery in Dry Creek Valley. The relationships he built with grape growers while at Ridge has likewise paid dividends because Dashe has some great vineyard sources, particularly in Dry Creek, which is renowned for Zinfandel.
In addition to their regular lineup of wines, Dashe also produces the “Les Enfants Terribles”, a naturalistic line of wines. They are very limited production wines that are fermented using native yeasts, have very low levels of SO2, are unfined and usually unfiltered. They make a Les Enfants Zinfandel, and a Les Enfants Grenache. The wines show a beautiful lightness, finesse, minerality, and balance. Dashe produces a total of about 10,000 cases of wine annually.
Since Dashe is a working winery, adjacent to the tastefully decorated space with a long wooden wine bar shared with JC Cellars, you’ll see massive stainless steel tanks, plenty of wine aging in oak barrels, grape bins, equipment, etc. The relationship between the Dashe tasting room staff, and the JC Cellars tasting room staff is friendly. For example, if you let the Dashe tasting room staff know you plan to also taste the JC Cellars wines, they’ll happily recommend the order in which you taste the wines, and it’s not a problem to go back and forth. The tasting room staff is very knowledgeable and friendly, not just about wines, but wine and food pairing, be that a dish to pair with a wine you’re considering, or making recommendations about the local food scene.
In addition to their Oakland tasting room, Dashe also share a tasting room with several other wineries at the Family Wineries Tasting Room in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley.
One a side note, the winery has one of the more whimsical logos I’ve come across. It features the playful image of a monkey riding the back of a fish. It’s a metaphor for two unique creatures traveling on a journey together.
On my most recent visit I tasted through the following wines:
2012 Dry Riesling McFadden Farm - A dry Riesling made in the Alsatian style from 30 year old hillside vineyard located in cool-climate Mendocino County. It shows floral, stone fruit, and mineral character with a kiss of spice and crisp acidity. $20 SRP
2012 Vin Gris (Dry Rosé) - Dry, fresh with a creamy texture and redolent of wild strawberry, cherry and mineral flavors. A blend of 90% Grenache, 6% Petite Sirah, and 4% Zinfandel - $16 SRP
2012 Grenache Les Enfants Terribles, Dry Creek Valley - Lush mouth feel with raspberry, cherry and spice flavors. Even better than 2011 Vintage which I considered to be outstanding. $24 SRP
2012 Zinfandel Les Enfants Terribles, Heart Arrow Ranch - Silky mouthfeel with black raspberry, strawberry, spice and mineral character. Likewise better than the 2011 vintage! $24 SRP
2011 Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley - Dashe’s entry-level Zinfandel cuvée. It shows cherry, black raspberry, mocha and spice flavors - $24 SRP
2011 Zinfandel Florence Vineyard -One of Dashe’s most popular vineyard designate wines. It shows vibrant, complex mixed berry, black currant and peppery spice flavors.
The common thread that runs through all the Dashe Cellar wines for me is balance and elegance.
If you’re the BYOB type, like I am, pick up a bottle of either the Les Enfants Zinfandel, or Grenache, and stroll over to Nido a wonderful Mexican restaurant right about the corner from Dashe. Or, pick up a bottle of Cab, or Petite Sirah and head over the popular Chop Bar, or one of the many other fine eateries in Jack London Square!
Address & Contact Information:
55 4th Street
Tasting Hours: Thurs-Sun 12:00-6:00.
Overall Rating:   ||
| Red Wine
|| White Wine
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