Paul Dolan Vineyards
2006 Deep Red
Red Blend • Dark Horse Vineyards
California: Mendocino County
What we say
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Mission Codename: Never In Too Deep
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Revisit Paul Dolan Vineyards and retrieve his delicious and unique Mendocino Deep Red Syrah, Petite Sirah and Grenache blend.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Paul Dolan Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2006 Deep Red
Winemaker: Paul Dolan
Backgrounder: Paul Dolan, the pioneer of organic wine farming, is a hero to most organic wine producers in the U.S. Paul literally wrote the books on sustainable wine production, with his ‘Code of Sustainable Wine Growing Practice’s for the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, and the ‘Green Winegrowing Handbook’ which gives an overview of Sustainable, Organic and Biodynamic wine growing. As CEO, market-leading Fetzer Winery, Paul led the company to sustainability and profitability, proving that it was possible to deliver wine that benefit wine consumers, wine workers, local communities – and the planet. His experience at Fetzer is chronicled in his tome, Paul tome on sustainable viticulture, ‘True to Our Roots: Fermenting a Business Revolution’. Today, Paul acts as winegrower for his own label, in Mendocino County, where he continues his tradition of crafting “special wines that sustain our environment, the place where we live and the people who live here.”
Today’s selection is a unique blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah and Grenache from Paul Dolan’s Dark Horse Vineyard in Mendocino.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark purple and nearly opaque black with violet hints that reaches to the very meniscus. When swirled, tightly spaced thin legs ring the side of the glass.
Smell – Rich dark blackberry, black cherry, red plum and raspberry with heady and exotic holiday spices are followed by toasted sweet oak, vanilla hints, pepper and earthy notes.
Feel – Expansive and generous on the palate, this full-bodied and well structured dry wine has well developed firm tannins and vibrant acidity. An exceptional dark mineral component grasps the rich fruit and lingers into the finish.
Taste – With all the dark fruit on the nose unabashedly making their presence known on the palate, this wines solid ripe blackberry, black cherry and plum melds with a very approachable and almost sentimental baking spice and sweet vanilla oak note. Almost rich pie in a glass but not overly sweet. Subtle hints of black pepper, dark roasted mocha coffee and earthy dark minerals adds soft complexity.
Finish – Smooth, rich and long, this wine’s dark fruit lingers for several minutes with the sweet vanilla and baking spice fading just before you raise your glass for another sip.
Conclusion – The 2006 Paul Dolan Vineyards Deep Red is a truly unique and unusual blend that delights on so many levels. Rich and generous fruit greet you on the nose and linger into the finish. Plush and expansive on the palate, with exceptional structure and earthy minerality. Both complex and familiar, this is a great wine for the holidays or snuggling up in front of a roaring fire. Drink now after decanting or cellar for up to ten years.
Agent Sass’s Review:
The holidays are here, and pairing wines with traditional fare can be quite tricky. This Mendocino blend however, quite masterfully matches the notes of warm “Christmas time” clove, whole cinnamon sticks, crackling chestnuts on the family fire, and the almighty and spicy rich earth! With dark violet color that swirls so ravishingly in one’s glass, this Biodynamic wine is a fantastic mate for the smorgasbord of saffron pastry, and mistletoe meals, encompassing both savory and sweet plates of pleasure! (Smoked fish, sliced peppercorn dusted venison loin, and walnut syrup drizzled cake). With the pleasant smolder of this wine’s sultry Syrah, coupled magnificently with its herbaceous Petite Sirah and fresh hint of Grenache, one will think that they’re sitting in a quite hospitable castle, and with its round table’s finest grape, poured in one’s glass!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Paul Dolan
WINE EDUCATION: As an undergraduate at Santa Clara University, I studied business and finance. Shortly before I graduated, I wrote a paper on the wine industry (advised by my winemaking uncle, Ed Rossi), and that’s where it all began for me. In 1975 I enrolled in the Enology program at California State University, Fresno ultimately receiving a Masters Degree with honors.
I am a fourth generation winemaker. My family’s involvement in the wine industry extends four generations through the Rossi and Concannon families. 1972, Graduated from Santa Clara University with a B.A. in Business, Enrolled in the United States Military as an officer; 1977, Received an M.S. in Enology with honors from California State University, Fresno, Joined Fetzer Vineyards as Winemaker.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: In 1977 I joined forces with the Fetzers, becoming the company’s first winemaker from outside the family. Together we grew the business to two million cases a year, regularly earning acclaim and awards for their wines. After the Fetzers sold their family business, I became president of the company under its new ownership. I was president for 12 years before partnering up with Tim and Tom Thornhill to form Mendocino Wine Company. 1979 Established Dolan Vineyards; 1991, Named Winemaker of the Year by the Los Angeles Times, Introduced Bonterra wines, the first national brand made from 100% organically grown grapes; 1992, Brown-Forman Corporation purchased Fetzer Vineyards, Named President of Fetzer Vineyards; 1994, Established Mendocino Cooperage; 1998, Established Dolan and Sons Organic Vineyards; 1999, Co-founded Wine Vision, an American Wine Conference for industry leaders; 2002, Introduced Code of Sustainable Wine Growing to Wine Institute members; 2003, Wrote True To Our Roots, Fermenting a Business Revolution, Established Sauvignon Republic Cellars as a Partner; 2004, Retired from Fetzer Vineyards, Partnered with Tim and Tom Thornhill to purchase Parducci Wine Cellars and form Mendocino Wine Co.; 2006, Received Green Entrepreneur Award from State Assistance Fund for Enterprise,Business and Industrial Development (SAFE-BIDCO); 2006, Received Environmental Business Leader of the Year Award from Planning and Conservation League, Paul Dolan Vineyards label launched
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: We are clear about what we want; an environmentally and socially conscious winery making great wines from Mendocino. Our farming practices are based on a deep respect for the health of the environment in which live and farm. Along with my Assistant Winemaker Mark Beaman and Winemaker Bob Swain, I work with a constant focus on quality and expression of Mendocino terroir.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: ”Every wine is a unique expression of a carefully nurtured piece of land, made manifest in each bottle”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: In 2004 my sons and I harvested the first Dark Horse grapes (Syrah, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah). The resulting wine, named Deep Red for the Red Vine soil series in which the vines grow, is a limited production, certified Biodynamic wine. “Dark Horse Ranch is my family’s home, where my sons and their children are 5th and 6th generation winegrowers in the mountains of Ukiah. We’re rooted here. I am part of the fabric of this place: the water, air, wine and food are part of me.”
AGENT RED: Greetings, Paul. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Deep Red today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
PAUL DOLAN: Thanks for having us – we’re excited to be here!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
PAUL: Love of wine is in my blood. I am a 4th generation winemaker. Edmond Rossi was my grandfather, and he ran the Italian Swiss Colony in Asti. I am also a part of the Concannon family heritage. Growing up, I would spend my summers with grandad in Asti, and during the rest of the year, he would visit us in Oakland. “At our family table you could always count on great food and wine, and stories of the old days.”
RED: Who do you make wine for?
PAUL: As a fourth-generation winemaker, farmer and father, I seek to leave the world in better condition for my children. They inspire me to craft special wines that sustain our environment, the place where we live and the people who live here. Organic grape growing and wine making are approached as a partnership with nature instead of an exploitation of the land. This takes patience, requiring more time in the vineyard. There are no short cuts or quick fixes with organic farming, but the care invested creates healthy soil, balanced grapes, and elegant wines that are expressive of place.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
PAUL: Deep Red has ripe, round red fruit aromas and deep flavors with complex earthy spice notes. When you stand in our vineyard and taste this wine, you know it’s home. As Biodynamic® farmers, our passion and mission is to create and support a healthy vibrant environment for our grapes to fully express themselves. And when maturity is reached the grapes from this site uniquely express this place, their home, our home.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
PAUL: This season – a rich and hearty Beef Bourguignon or stew would pair well with the Deep Red
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Dark Horse Ranch so special?
PAUL: My farming practices are based on a deep respect for the health of the environment in which I live and farm. One of my great passions is winegrowing at my family’s Dark Horse Ranch, east of the Russian River in the foothills near Ukiah. My sons and I chose this location because of its diverse natural beauty, dramatic terrain and deep red soils. It has been a family project and a labor of love to convert 70 acres of grapes into a certified Biodynamic vineyard. As an earnest student of Rudolf Steiner (the father of the Biodynamic movement), Il embraces Steiner’s premise that each piece of land has its own unique expression. The Dolan family is nurturing the land to capture that expression in the Paul Dolan Vineyards wines. “Dark Horse Ranch is my family’s home, where my sons and their children are 5th and 6th generation winegrowers in the mountains of Ukiah. We’re rooted here. I am part of the fabric of this place: the water, air, wine and food are part of me.”
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
PAUL: My goal is to create a model for the wine business. In turn, I am determined to develop the wine industry as a model for all agriculture worldwide. “We are seeing a shift, an awakening, where people are taking a strong stand on the food and wine they consume and its impact on the environment. The greatest challenge in the world today is global warming. All of us, individuals and businesses, must do all we can to meet this challenge.” This is the message he delivers as an industry leader, winemaker, farmer and father.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
PAUL: Slow down, sip, and enjoy.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
PAUL: Humanity’s actions are altering the balance of nature; and we are watching the world transform before our very eyes. Fish populations are in serious decline; our rainforests are disappearing and the planet’s topsoil is being eroded and lost. The impact of global warming and its effects on our climate are being felt worldwide, from the hottest summers on record to melting polar ice caps.
All agriculture depends on the health of the land, and as a winemaker I know how even the most subtle environmental changes in the vineyard can leave an imprint on the style, structure and composition of today’s wines. Thirty years ago I can remember my grapes struggling to reach maturity of 23.5º to 24º Brix. Now, with the changing climate, I have a similar challenge to keep the sugars below 28º-29º Brix each year while waiting for the tannins to ripen.
Because it is directly tied to the earth, the wine business is uniquely positioned to respond to these challenges. Try to find an agricultural product that is more closely scrutinized, savored, or judged than wine; so those grape growing, winemaking, and business practices that improve the quality of the land will noticeably improve the quality of their wine. It’s a simple concept whose time has come, and one greater numbers of people are coming to accept.
Sustainable farming practices result in healthier soil, balanced grapes and higher quality wines.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The approximate location of Paul Dolan Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
About Agent Sass:
Agent Sass, currently a resident of New England, is a bond girl to the Nth degree! Speaking multiple languages, feasting on exotic game meats, drinking exclusively red wines – but for the occasional bubbly or Zind Humbrecht white – and having an affinity for leather trousers and “high fashion” shoes; Agent Sass produced an edgy wine etiquette DVD: www.sassfrommyglass.com. She has enjoyed wine with her dinner nightly, since age 10, and taught extemporaneous speaking to college students prior to today. While drinking copious reds, Agent Sass raises very pampered Cocker Spaniels and prepares all of their gourmet food from scratch. Despite her luscious crush on Malbecs, her favorite wine is tied between Ghost Horse Cabernet & Screaming Eagle Cabernet – still a delicious “menage a trois” for Sass, while she determines which it is, that truly hits the spot best for her!
What the winery says
Awards & Accolades:
Gold Medal – 2010 Florida State Fair
Gold Medal – 2010 Orange County Fair
Gold Medal – 2010 Golden Glass Wine Competition
Gold Medal – San Francisco Int’l Wine Competition
About This Wine:
Our vineyard soils are Deep Red, and consequently so is this wine. The deep, rich, iron laced volcanic soils contribute to the expression of the ego of this place, the unique expression of a carefully nurtured piece of land, made manifest in each bottle.
To this end, we do without conventional pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Our intention is to treat the soil and all we grow on it as a living, life giving system. From natural composts, colorful cover crops and lively insectory areas to our owl boxes, mobile chicken coops, pasture animals and family garden, our farming practices create special wines, and sustain the land for generations to come.
Deep Red has ripe, round red fruit aromas and deep flavors with complex earthy spice notes. When you stand in our vineyard and taste this wine, you know it’s home. As Biodynamic® farmers, our passion and mission is to create and support a healthy vibrant environment for our grapes to fully express themselves. And when maturity is reached the grapes from this site uniquely express this place, their home, our home. As Biodynamic farmers, our passion and mission is to create and support a healthy vibrant environment for our grapes to fully express themselves. And when maturity is reached the grapes from this site uniquely express this place, their home, our home.
Vineyard Notes: 100% Dark Horse Vineyards, Mendocino County. Our vineyard soils are Deep Red, and consequently so is this wine. The deep, rich, iron laced volcanic soils contribute to the expression of the ego of this place, the unique expression of a carefully nurtured piece of land, made manifest in each bottle. To this end, we do without conventional pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Our intention is to treat the soil and all we grow on it as a living, life giving system. From natural composts, colorful cover crops and lively insectory areas to our owl boxes, mobile chicken coops, pasture animals and family garden, our farming practices create special wines, and sustain the land for generations to come.
About The Winery:
As a fourth-generation winemaker, farmer and father, I seek to leave the world in better condition for my children. They inspire me to craft special wines that sustain our environment, the place where we live and the people who live here.
Organic grape growing and wine making are approached as a partnership with nature instead of an exploitation of the land. This takes patience, requiring more time in the vineyard. There are no short cuts or quick fixes with organic farming, but the care invested creates healthy soil, balanced grapes, and elegant wines that are expressive of place.
About The Winegrower:
The Winegrower – Vineyard/Farm as a living, life giving system
“A sustainable farm should be a whole farm, like a whole person. It must have integrity. It must have a moral center. It must be connected to its values and the greater world. It must aspire to do what is right, not just for the bottom line, not just from a legal standpoint, but from a moral and ethical standpoint. It’s not only accountable, it’s responsible.” Adapted from Paul Dolan’s True to Our Roots, Fermenting a Business Revolution, 2003.
Winegrowers are nature’s partners. These farmers take a holistic approach and treat the soil and everything grown on it as a living, life-giving system. They are always thinking systemically about how their activities give back to the land. Farmers use nature’s own processes to restore nutrients to the soil, regulate water usage in the vineyard and create biodiversity to keep balance. The plant and animal kingdoms are connected.
By listening to the unique needs of the farm, winegrowers find creative, natural solutions to problems that arise.
Biodynamic winegrowers use the biodynamic calendar to guide the timing of their work: when to plant, cultivate and harvest crops. However, biodynamic farming is much more complex and encompassing than the calendar. Farmers must also eye changes in the weather, rely on common sense and use knowledge of the specific needs of their land to guide annual farm activities.
The farm is a healthy organism – an individualized, diverse ecosystem guided by the farmer. The ultimate goal is the creation of a completely self-sufficient biodynamic farm that produces everything it needs onsite: fertilizer, pest control and water management.
Biodynamic farming and winemaking produce wines that are authentic expressions of the vineyard and the passion of the grower.
Varietals: 57% Syrah, 31% Petite Sirah, 12% Grenche; Made with 100% Biodynamic Grapes, Demeter Certified
Varietal: Red Blend
Appellation: Mendocino County
Acid: .53 g/100 ml
Bottling Date: September 2008
Alcohol: 14.5% by Volume