VOLUME 10, ISSUE 29
April 22, 2016
Dragonette Cellars is a partnership between brothers John and Steve Dragonette and close friend Brandon Sparks-Gillis. The three spent a number of years learning the wine business through tasting, wine sales and winemaking under the tutelage of respected winemakers. To pursue their dream of making wine in the Santa Ynez Valley, they moved their families (a combined three spouses, three children, three dogs, and a cat) to the Valley, to be close to the land and its bounty. Garage-style production was tested in 2003-2004 and they became bonded in 2004, releasing the first commercial vintage for Dragonette Cellars in 2005.
The winery began production at Central Coast Wine Services in Santa Maria, moved to Demetria Estate in Los Olivos, and ended up with their current cohabitation with Ampelos in 2008 in Lompoc (with whom they share equipment). Dragonette also produces about 1,000 cases of Liquid Farm Chardonnay.
The emphasis is on minimal intervention winemaking with natural yeast fermentations and very little filtration. Grapes are sourced from about a dozen vineyards in Santa Barbara County.
The wines (there is a Rosé, Syrah, Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc available as well) are sold through a mailing list with limited retail distribution. The Hilliard Bruce Vineyard Pinot Noir is especially notable. Production is about 3,200 cases annually. Chardonnay from Duvarita Vineyard (formerly Presidio), the first biodynamic vineyard planted in Santa Barbara County, was added with the 2014 vintage.
Tasting is available in Los Olivos Thursday through Monday.
Articles About Dragonette Cellars
2012 California Pinot Noir All-Americans Honorable Mention (9.17 12/26/2012)
Along the Pinot Trail in California: Part I - Central Coast (9.8 6/24/2012)
Blast from 2011 World of Pinot Noir (8.33 3/12/2011)
Fiddlestix Vineyard (7.3 10/1/2008)
On the Pinot Event Trail (9.3 2/22/2012)
On the Pinot Trail: WOPN 2010 (8.13 4/8/2010)
Sips of Recently Tasted California Pinot Noir & Chardonnay & Outliers (9.43 7/19/2014)
Sta. Rita Hills 2013 Wine and Fire (9.32 10/26/2013)
2012 Dragonette Cellars Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 875 cases, $44. A blend of several vineyards including John Sebastiano (60%), Fiddlestix, La Encantada, Zotovich, Radian, and Bent Rock. Clones 113, 114, 115, 667, “828,” 777 and Pommard 4. 92% de-stemmed, 4 to 7-day cold soak, native and commercial yeasts. Aged 15 months on lees in 18% new French oak. Unfined and unfiltered. · Dark reddish purple color in the glass. High-spirited aromas of blackberry, cassis, toasty oak and a hint of spice. Mid to full-bodied, oak-kissed array of dark fruits with integrated tannins and some finishing intensity. Showy and satisfying, and a solid everyday wine, albeit a bit too much oak sheen for me. Score: 89. Reviewed July 19, 2014 ARTICLE »
2012 Dragonette Cellars Radian Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 200 cases, $54. This vineyard is located at the far western edge of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. This is an extreme site buffeted by high winds. Vines struggle to set fruit and only a tiny crop of small clusters are able to ripen. Yields in this vintage were .57 to .88 tons per acre. Clones 114 and 667. 100% de-stemmed, 4-day cold soak, native and commercial yeast fermentations. Aged 15 months sur lie in 22% new French oak. Unfiltered. A barrel selection. · A brooding, confined wine that offers very shy black fruits and coffee-scented oak on the nose with a firm, sinewy backbone of tannin. A full-bodied array of dark red and black fruits are soft and smooth on the palate, and although this texture is very appealing, the fruit lack expression at this stage, with oak dominating the theme. Like a puzzle that has not come together, this wine is not as appealing now as it most certainly will be with another few years in bottle. Reviewed September 20, 2014 ARTICLE »
2010 Dragonette Cellars Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 300 cases, $42. Sourced from vineyards on the western edge of the Sta. Rita Hills including Sebastiano, Cargasacchi-Jalama, Cargasacchi, Fiddlestix, La Encantada, and Zotovich. clones Pommard, 113, 114, 115, 667 and 828. Native and commercial yeasts. Aged 16 months in 25% new French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. A little spicy, a little savory, and plenty of dark red cherry and berry fruit aromas. Discreetly concentrated flavors of red and black raspberries and cherries and red plum cake, with modest tannins and a generous cut on the finish. This is perfect for drinking now. Very good. Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »
2010 Dragonette Cellars Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 150 cases, $54. 17% whole clusters. Native and commercial yeasts. Aged 16 months in 35% new French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Reserved, but pleasant aromas of dark red cherries and berries, with a hint of herbs. Delicious core of black cherry fruit with accents of spice and oak. Modestly rich and plush. Soft in the mouth with very well managed tannins (this vineyard can produce very tannic wines). Impeccable balance. Very approachable now, but will benefit from a few more years in the cellar. A complete wine and one of many I have had the pleasure of drinking from this venerable vineyard. Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »
2010 Dragonette Cellars Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir (“Black Label”)
14.4% alc., 100 cases, $75. Favorite barrels (50% Cargasacchi, 25% Fiddlestix, and 25% La Encantada vineyards). Clones 115 and 667. Native and commercial yeasts. Aged 16 months in 50% new French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Deep, dark plum color in the glass. Very reserved, even locked down, barely offering scents of black cherries and vanillin oak. Striking mid palate attack of ripe dark berry and satsuma plum flavors, underlain with notes of oak, chicory and tar. Very soft in the mouth, with modest tannins, finishing with remarkable fruit intensity. Hard to evaluate at this early stage, but the potential is obvious. Very good (+). Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »
2009 Dragonnette Cellars Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., 225 cases, $42. 45% La Encantada, 38% Kessler-Haak, 14% Cargasacchi-Jalama and 3% Fiddlestix vineyards. Average yield 1.8 tons per acre. 100% de-stemmed, 4 to 7 day cold soak, native and commercial yeast fermentation, aged 15 months in 33% new French oak barrels. · A well-assembled appellation wine that speaks of the region. A little savory, a little fruity with complimentary oak in the background, finishing long with intense black cherry and berry fruit and hi-tone acidity. Good (+). Reviewed March 12, 2011 ARTICLE »
2009 Dragonette Cellars Hilliard-Bruce Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., 100 cases, $48. The Hilliard-Bruce Vineyard is located at the western edge of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, one-half mile west of Clos Pepe, and is the first vineyard to be planted in the AVA with close spacing. Planting began in 2005. Clones are 115 and 777. 100% de-stemmed, 7-day cold soak, native and commercial yeast fermentation, aged for 15 months in 25% new French oak barrels, bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Darker cherry and berry fruit is nicely spiced and encased in grainy tannins giving a mouth feel with textural interest. A delicious, seductive wine that is surprisingly well-raised despite the young vines. This meticulously farmed vineyard is fast becoming a superstar in the region. Very good (+). Reviewed March 12, 2011 ARTICLE »
2007 Drangonette Cellars Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 100 cases. · A direct and tasty wine featuring a melange of berries and a hint of citrus on the refreshing finish. Soft in the mouth, discreetly weighted, and easy to drink. Good. Reviewed April 8, 2010 ARTICLE »
2006 Dragonette Cellars Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., 144 cases, $45. Sourced from both Fiddlestix and Gaia (Ashley’s) vineyards. Clones 113, 114, 115, 777 and Pommard. The grapes were hand-harvested in the cool early morning hours over several days in September, de-stemmed without crushing, meticulously sorted, cold soaked for 4 to 7 days, then each block was fermented separately over a 14 to 30 day period depending on the lot. Aged on the lees for 17 months in 50% new French cooperage before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Toasty oak dominated black fruit aromas with scents of Provencal herbs. Oak-spiced black cherry and black raspberry flavors which fan out on the palate nicely. Soft, fruity and pure with admirable finesse, finely ground tannins and a long, scented finish. Reviewed October 1, 2008 ARTICLE »
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