Dashe 2016 Heart Arrow Ranch Zinfandel
One of the finest biodynamic farms in Mendocino County—a completely self-contained farm ecosystem where not only grapes but vegetables, fruit-trees, pigs, cows, lambs, and chickens all make a single farming unit. The farming creates a site-specific terroir of the vineyard, which makes this wine different in aroma, flavor, and structure; almost more like a European wine than a classic California Zinfandel.
Because of the way the grapes are grown, and because of the techniques we use to make this wine—fermented with the native yeasts on the grapes; aged in a huge 900 gallon French oak barrel; unfined; and bottled with low SO2 levels—we felt that it deserved to be labeled with our other wines in the Les Enfants Terribles (the “Wild Children”) series, which are made in a more Old World style.
The 2016 vintage was a wonderful vintage but one marked by very low yields, and more so at this ranch than most. The vines, strangely enough, were ravaged by bears and picked over by birds to such an extent that the yields were tiny. The grapes we did receive were tiny and very intense, producing a fruit-forward, dark, and luscious wine. As with all of our wines, the fermentation was conducted using the native yeasts found naturally growing on the grapes. We took away the rollers on our crusher, let the whole berries drop into the tank for fermentation, and also pitchforked 10% whole clusters into the tank. We wanted the wine to ferment inside of the berries, which produces a beautiful, fruit- forward aroma and a light, velvety texture to the wine.
The wine shows excellent fruit and mineral aromas, and the wine has an absolutely beautiful texture and depth of flavor. Although this wine is beautiful to drink right now, it can improve with age as well, at least 8 years from the vintage date.