Alameda's Dashe Cellars Will Change Your Mind About Zinfandel
BY ESTHER MOBLEY
Dashe Cellars, a 23-year fixture of the East Bay winemaking scene, was turning out restrained, light-bodied, ethereal versions of grape varieties like Zinfandel long before that style was in vogue.
That’s simply the sort of wine that Mike and Anne Dashe like to drink. Their preferences are informed by their love of French wines: Anne grew up in France, and Mike trained there as a young winemaker. He fell in love with Zin while working as the assistant winemaker at Ridge Vineyards. When he and Anne launched their own wine in 1996, they made Zinfandel the focus – but their minimalist approach made for a very different sort of wine than other California wineries were producing at the time.
The Dashe Cellars lineup is split into two tiers: the signature wines, which are typically vineyard designates; and Les Enfants Terribles, which are lighter and more youthful, often fermented by carbonic maceration, which imbues juicy, fruit-candy flavors. Zinfandel appears at both ends of the portfolio, so you can taste ageworthy, structured Zinfandel from sites like the Florence Vineyard and the Bedrock Vineyard, but you can also taste crushable, translucent Les Enfants Terribles Zinfandels (many of them still single-vineyard wines). Mike Dashe remains the director of winemaking, working with winemaker Rene Calderon.