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9 October, 2018

D-Cubed Cellars: Born of a Yen for Zinfandel

Posted in : Primitivo / Zinfandel, Red Wine, Wine on by : becca

Zinfandel is the best grape out there, as far as Duane David Dappen, owner and winemaker of D-Cubed Cellars, is concerned.

d-cubed cellars, wine tasting, wine review, zinfandelAs he’s been making wine since 4-H club, he’s had plenty of time to make up his mind! Duane worked at other esteemed wineries early on in his career, but making zinfandel under the D-Cubed Cellars name has been happening all along the way, since his first release in 1994. That zinfandel came from the Black Sears vineyard and other Howell Mountain-based grapes in the Napa Valley, where he still focuses his work today.

I met Duane briefly during the Zinfandel Advocates & Producers’ (ZAP) annual Zin Experience in San Francisco last January, and I was delighted that he offered to send me samples for review. Obligatory disclaimer: That means these zinfandels were free to me.

d-cubed cellars, zinfandel, tasting notes, reviewD-Cubed Cellars Beatty Ranch Zinfandel 2013 ($55): An earthy nose of mushroom, wet leaf, and rich cherry. In the glass, cherry vanilla is kept on its toes by a lively pepper grind: green, black, and white peppercorns. Lime rind acidity doesn’t quite balance but does make it interesting, joshing around with its pal, oregano. 3/5

d-cubed cellars, wine tasting, wine review, zinfandelD-Cubed Cellars Korte Ranch Zinfandel 2012 ($34): Appealing smell of a just baked strawberry rhubarb pie. Tight spices, but they provide a fun sensation of roaring down a peppercorn slide. You’ll fly past tall grasses on either side and cold soil notes that hint of forest beyond. The finish leaves you with black raspberry candy. 3.5/5

d-cubed cellars, zinfandel, tasting notes, reviewD-Cubed Cellars Napa Valley Zinfandel 2013 ($30): Muted nose of jasmine. Classic light-bodied zin with great balance of pepper, cherry, strawberry, and licorice. Leaves the throat spice tickly. 4/5

It’s worth noting that at the ZAP Zin Expo, I also tried the D-Cubed Cellars Napa Valley Zinfandel 2012, which is Duane’s blend from multiple vineyards in the region versus a single vineyard wine. There, I rated it 4/5 and still found it light for a zin, but it showed off darker, moister notes that afternoon, notes that may be quite appealing as autumn begins. They made me think of cream cheese-filled pumpkin rolls.

Regardless of what flavor profile shines brightest on a given day, I am unsurprised that I enjoyed the Napa Valley blend most and that my high score for it repeated. Terroir-driven experiments of single vineyard wines intrigue, but I love the lushness of a well-balanced wine. I think the Beatty Ranch and Korte Ranch bottles will only get more interesting with age, however, and may be a lot of fun to try again in a few more years.

Thanks, Duane, for the chance to sample D-Cubed Cellars Zinfandels! I look forward to coming across them again. All are currently available for sale at the winery website.

Tasted 2 September 2018.

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