Donati Family Vineyard
2006 DFV Claret
Red Blend • Estate Vineyard
California: Paicines (San Benito County)
What we say
SUPER QPR WINE ALERT!
Today’s wine is a near-perfect, high-QPR (Quality to Price Ratio), deeply-delicious red blend – from one of our favorite Paso Robles wine producers.
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Mission Codename: It’s all becoming Claret
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Donati to investigate claims that their 2006 Claret blend is more impressive than any of the winery’s former blends. If true, secure all remaining cases of the wine for our Operatives holiday entertaining.
their best wine yet. If true, secure an ample allocation for the enjoyment of our deserving Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Donati Family Vineyard
Winemaker: Dan Kleck
Wine Subject: 2006 Claret
Backgrounder: In traditional terms, a Claret wine is a dry red blend made from Bordeaux varietals. Today’s wine, grown in the Paicines hills above Hollister, along the San Andreas fault, is a wonderful Bordeaux varietal blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 7% Syrah, 7% Petit Verdot and 6% Malbec. A delicious wine at a delicious price, today’s wine is one that you should not miss.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark and foreboding with hues of pure garnet. At its heart, the wine goes slightly opaque. At the rim, a band of bright ruby cuts a fine edge. On swirling, the wine shows its weightiness. As it settles, tall legs flow down to the surface of the wine.
Smell – Lush and dark, with a soft chocolate smokiness that is immediately joined by dark cherrk, blackberry, leather, espresso bean, and raspberry. Just beneath these lies soft spice of cinnamon and subtle clove. A hint of cracked brown leather rounds out the pleasurable nose
Feel – Soft and cool at entry, then more medium-bodied across the mid-palate. Supple tannins lead to a crushed velvet feel that spreads an easy dryness around the mouth.
Taste – Flavor-filled and very delicious, the wine leads with bright cherry, raspberry and blackberry. Then, the smoky chocolate from the nose is prelude to soft oak, brown spice and a hint of black pepper.
Finish – Smoky and dusky, at first, with toasty oak and smoked cherry, spice and the smallest hint of eucalyptus. As these tail off, gradually, hints of blackfruit and black pepper remain for a long time.
Conclusion – This fantastic Claret is a delightful follow-up to the delicious 2005 vintage which we proudly showcased back in 2008. This 2006 vintage is, to our tasting panel, an even better wine. A delightful balance of bright red fruits and dusky black fruits, all tempered against spice and other earthen components, today’s wine is a delicious wine that I encourage you to sample. Enjoy with a wide range of foods, from your favorite antipasti, to a hearty winter roast. We enjoyed our review bottles with a light pasta dish of spaghetti with feta cheese, spinach and mixed Italian olives with lemon and olive oil. The pairing was perfection. Enjoy!!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Ian Hudson
AGENT RED: Greetings, Ian. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Claret today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
IAN HUDSON: I’m looking forward to the interrogation.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
IAN: When I was a child growing up in a Swiss Italian family there was always a presence of wine. Jug wine picked up at a local winery outside of Gilroy California was the staple during dinner. Even as young boy I was served small amounts of red wine cut down by water. I guess I had an interest in the science of it all. I was interested in all the steps that it took to get that wine to our home.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
IAN: I started at Donati in 2006 and learned the majority of my style from Dan Kleck. Dan was Donati’s consulted at the time and I followed him around the winery like a lost puppy. As time went on, my skills were refined and I was able to eventually hold my own. I think every good consultant eventually works himself out of a job at some point.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
IAN: In the end, I couldn’t drink all the great wine we produce at Donati, so you really have to do your research on what consumers want and enjoy. I think we have found the style and method that is consistently good year end year out. Producing blends like our Claret from year to year is a challenge but when you have control over every aspect of the process it eases that difficulty.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
IAN: Our Claret is the most popular wine we make. The Claret blend consists of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 7% syrah, 7% Petit Verdot, 6% Malbec. We age the wine in 25% new French and American oak for 18-24 months. It is bottled unfined unfiltered. All of the wine we make is all grown on our estate vineyard about 27 miles east of Monterey bay in Paicines, California.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
IAN: Any Red meat dish pairs really well with our Claret. Because of that little touch of Syrah in the blend claret is more versatile when served with heavier sauced foods. I love serving the Claret with hearty Italian dishes.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Central Coast so special?
IAN: The central coasts weather makes it possible to grow a wide array of grape varietals. This arsenal of varietals gives us the ability to blend wines that are unlike any in the world.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
IAN: We are playing Mozart to all the barrels of wine from the 2010 harvest. We just received our last load of grapes for the 2010 harvest, a little bit of late harvest Pinot Blanc. The Pinot Blanc is fermenting away in stainless.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
IAN: I would say I approach wine with an open mind. There is too much influence from the media and it really ruins the ability for one to discover their own likes or dislikes. Just because you’ve had a few bad examples of a certain variety does not mean you should stop trying them all together. Get out of your comfort zone, and start experiencing life by introducing yourself to new and obscure wines.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
IAN: Enjoy our Claret from our family to yours. Thank you, Agent.
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:
Vineyard – The Donatis selected a unique site for their vineyard plantings. They diligently researched and identified clones and blocks that would be capable of developing into Spy-worthy wines in the cellar. With perfect fruit health and absolute ripeness, the wines crafted from the Donati Estate Vineyard are rich in character and nuance.
Numerous Paicines vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
Awards & Accolades:
Silver Medal – 2010 SF Chronicle Wine Competition
About This Wine:
“With the name Claret signifying a classic Bordelais blend, it is important for us to differentiate this wine from our sorelle per sempre by enhancing it’s styling to create a wine that showcases the classic characteristics of Cabernet and Merlot. this blend is well-balanced and shows the grace and elegance that can be achieved in an early-drinking red wine.” – Dan Kleck
By design, our Claret is a wine that focuses on fresh forward fruit. As we learn more about our various vineyard blocks, certain qualities can be identified during the ripening season to determine which blocks will give us Claret-quality fruit.
Our Claret is barrel-aged in a combination of French and American oak, giving it the best possible flavor structure to match the lovely berry-like fruit components.
Our Claret is a wine that showcases the classic characteristics of Cabernet and Merlot. This blend is well-balanced and shows the grace and elegance that can be achieved in an early-drinking red wine
This Bordeaux Style Blend with aromoas of cherry, cinnamon, and leather, mid palate shows berry fruit qualities finishing with moderate tannin and low acid. This wine goes with everything, including itself!
About The Winery:
FAMILY. ESTATE. VISION. That’s the Donati Family, as is evidenced upon first glimpse of their spectacular estate vineyard.
The Donatis came to Paicines (pronounced pie see ness), in California’s Central Coast, in 1998 when they purchased land that would soon become home to Matt Donati and his family. Since then, Matt and his father Ron, engaged in planting the family vineyard and planning their state-of-the-art winery.
Today, the guiding principles of quality and cooperation, along with a steadfast work-ethic, underscore all that is accomplished in the busy days on the family vineyard.
“Our philosophy is to grow grapes of the highest possible quality, so that wines made from our fruit can meet the quality expectations of our customers,” says Matt. “This requires attention to detail, evaluation of new grape growing and winemaking methods and technologies, and a passion for serving our customers.”
This is done in a groundbreaking environment, as the Donatis expect to establish the Paicines AVA (American Viticultural Area) as a growing region with the potential of neighboring Mt. Harlan AVA (Calera Winery) and Chalone AVA (Chalone Vineyard).
About The Vineyard:
The Donati Family Estate Vineyard site enjoys a variety of soils from limestone to decomposed granite to clay loam, and access to the cooling ocean breezes of the Monterey Bay. Like much of southern Napa, Sonoma, and Monterey counties, Paicines has long warm days followed by cool nights. “It’s a lot cooler than people think it would be here,” says Matt. “On the UC Davis scale of growing areas and heat where Region I is the coolest and V the warmest, Paicines is a cool Region II.”
The vineyard is planted to various select clones of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Syrah, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanc and Petite Verdot. Vine selections are carefully screened for viral diseases prior to planting, ensuring that the future of the vineyard is secure, and that vine health and fruit integrity remain intact from planting through harvest.
Matt Donati believes in hands-on year-round vineyard management to create an environment where the grapes themselves can be left alone to thrive during ripening.
Regular, judicious thinning of shoots during the growing season, attention to every detail of vine canopy training and light management within the fruiting zone, pre and post-veraison green fruit removal, along with scientific analysis of soil and leaf moisture throughout the growing season ensures that every aspect of the Donati Estate viticultural program contributes to the success of the vintage.
Primary efforts are directed at sustainable farming, allowing for natural predators and reduced use of pesticides to provide a clean, hospitable environment for vine growth and fruit maturation. Of course, this path of action requires extreme diligence in scouting for possible problems. But, with active personnel regularly hand-tending each and every vine, the family is gradually learning that effective and efficient sustainable practices can indeed make a significant difference in both the local environment and in the ultimate grape and wine quality.
Winemaker Dan Kleck enjoys working with the fruit that results from these practices. “For any serious winemaker, it is a great pleasure to work with a team of dedicated professional vineyardists whose vision for quality matches ones own. Donati Vineyard not only has selected a unique and superior site for its vineyard plantings, but has done an extraordinary job of identifying those clones and blocks that are capable of developing into stellar wines in the cellar. With perfect fruit health and absolute ripeness the goals of that vineyard team, I am readily able to craft fully expressive wines, rich in character and nuance. It is sincerely an exciting prospect to work with grapes of such high quality and distinctive personality.”
Varietals: 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 7% Syrah, 7% Petit Verdot, 6% Malbec