Dos Lagos Vineyards
By Kerry Winslow
Tom and Marcie Dinkel have released their first vintage of Dos Lagos Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, with only 120 cases of this wine being made and with star winemaker Robert Foley fully involved in the project, as he also has the main contract for grapes at this tiny four acre estate for his own wine. From my tasting notes; The 2007 Dos Lagos is a deep and thickly concentrated Cab with solid structure and fruit intensity with a black/purple hue that coats the glass. The palate is ripe, but focused showing massive black fruits and pure Cabernet character, leading with blackberry, dark currant, plum and blueberries before array of background flavors unfold. Interesting crème de cassis, mocha, cedar spice, cigar tobacco and violet like perfume all come across in layer after layer with powerful tannins holding things together, though thankfully they are not harsh or distracting from the wine and I’m sure as it is still a very young wine will fade in time to allow much pleasure over the following 5-10 years.
Bob Foley, ex Pride, and maker of top Napa Cabernet like his own Claret, Switchback Ridge and Hourglass seems to have fallen in love with the terroir at this rugged Atlas Peak location, and after tasting this vintage, I think he is on to something big here.
Tom and Marcie Dinkel took a huge leap of faith taking on this vineyard planted in the 90’s and looks to be rewarded in the best way possible, with a blockbuster wine right out of the gate and an instant success, after following their passions. Tom an ex Honeywell sales manger, and now start up manager in a solar technology company has turned a dream into reality along with his wife Marcie who is a budding artist and will have her paintings grace the label each vintage. This interesting and down to earth pair, may seem like an unlikely duo to make a small high-end Cabernet Sauvignon, with little background in wine to speak off and being to humble and excited, but don’t let that fool you, they are serious and have put a lot of heart and soul into this venture. They sought out talent and made believers of everyone that has seen the vineyard and tasted the grapes, and before being able to make their own wine, they sold to Caymus for their Napa Valley Cabernet that has received mid 90’s scores from top critics, even though the Dos Lagos fruit was only a small component it was very well thought of.
In the vineyard itself set in the remote hillsides on Atlas Peak is mostly volcanic soils with less than six inches of topsoil anywhere to be found, making for small yields and small berries that give maximum flavors and power. The Dinkel’s found a experienced vineyard manger, Hector Lopez, that broke his teeth with Caymus and other top sites in the area to coax the best possible fruit from these vines. His neighbor’s wine gave Tom even more faith and helped shape the powerful big his wine has and will be, that neighbor Bialla Vineyards even lent the Dinkel’s their talented winemaker Craig MacLean to help them start their project, before finding that Robert Foley was interested and available. Foley in fact was so convinced; he took the project in house and makes the Dos Lagos at his own winery, a brilliant state of the art facility on Howell Mountain where he makes some of Napa Valley’s finest reds.
The Dinkel’s with eyes wide open, know they picked a very tough time in the wine business to bring out a new wine, let alone a very pricy high-end wine with no track record, but seem to ooze calm pleasure at what lies ahead and are very positive going forward and have so far beaten the odds and are getting a lot of enthusiasm from the wine community and word of mouth buzz, all leading to people searching them out all ready. No question the support and talent of Robert Foley will also pay off and bring excitement as well as customers looking to find the next big thing, which this looks to be. I was left very impressed and look forward to re-trying this wine again as well as seeing what the next vintages bring.
In a side story to this article, I must also mention the amazing St. Helena wine merchant, 750 Wines, they are into finding these secret next big thing wines and people, and they invited a few journalists and wine bloggers to meet the Dinkel’s and taste the wines. This unique format, which was not for the buying public or even their clients was an informal way of interaction between a producer and the press to get marketing feedback and a real critical lens on their wine. David and Monica Stevens of 750 Wines offer many selections of these rare, collectable and new talent labels, and do a great job of promoting them. It was great to see their drive to help the new guys and young talents of the wine world make it. If you are into wine and want to see and taste the future superstars then you need to check 750 Wines out, they are a place where the action is, search them out online or look them up in St. Helena on Adams Street right off Highway 29.
*Full Review of Dos Lagos