Dashe Cellars 'L'Enfant Terrible' Zinfandel 2014
Wine: Dashe Cellars 'L'Enfant Terrible' McFadden Farm
Region: Potter Valley/Mendocino County, California
California Zinfandel is pretty much NEVER going to be the wine I pick. The vine's tendency for making high alcohol, jammy beasts and the ocean of cheap syrupy swill that has dominated the market for at least as long as I've been of drinking age, have all but destroyed my belief in it as anything worth noting. Of course it's not the grape to blame, but the farmers. When in the hands of talented souls with a natural approach, it's perfectly capable of producing delicious gems. Enter Dashe Cellars.
*April 6, 2016 correction & retraction: The following words I wrote yesterday are technical details for the Heart Arrow Ranch 'l'Enfant Terrible' Zinfandel 2014. But that's not what I drank or the wine for which my tasting notes refer to. Oops! There are in fact TWO zinfandels in this series for the 2014 vintage. I was drinking the McFadden Farm bottling from Potter Valley, also in Mendocino County. Correct technical deets precede my tasting scripture.
The grapes are grown on the Heart Arrow Ranch, a polyculture farm with vegetable crops, pigs, cows, lambs, chickens and fruit orchards. This zin is part of Dashe Cellars' Les Enfants Terribles series, aka the "Wild Children." It's fermented with the natural yeasts and aged in a 900-gallon French oak barrel, unfined and bottled with just a smidgen of SO2 before bottling. I first had this wine a few vintages ago. There's not a lot of it to go around (only 389 cases in 2014) and it's been a while since I've spotted more on a retail shelf. It was recommended to me by a fellow wine industry friend when I proclaimed that Mauritson Zin is the only one I can drink. I'm clearly overlooking other producers in this category, like Ridge, for instance, but you get the idea.
*The McFadden Farm Zinfandel is made from high elevation organic vineyards surrounded by white varieties riesling, gewürtztraminer and pinot gris. The winemaker attributes some of the softness to that setting along with the chalk-rich soils. Also fermented with native yeasts, but unlike the Heart Arrow Ranch, this lovely gem underwent carbonic maceration. This cuvée is also aged in old 900-gallon French oak barrels. For contrast, standard oak barrels hold approximately 60 gallons.
The Dashe Cellars 'L'Enfant Terrible' Zinfandel 2014 is a respectable 13.8% alcohol with clear intentioned acidity that made me want to drink more. It's not acid alone that makes this bottle so freaking delicious, but great balance of all the parts, not least of which are the seductive, luscious red and plum fruit and velvety tannins that washed across my tongue in such a way...let's just say all the senses were employed and the experience one of elation. Black cherry and wild raspberry jam lead, with earthy undertones playing wing man to an irresistible lothario that just might be the hand across the aisle between zinfandel lovers and haters. Find this wine, buy a bottle, and savor every drop.