From our family to yours.
This month, we’re honored to share with you our family’s’ wines. As long as you’ve been a customer of ours, at some point (no doubt) we’ve sent you home with a bottle of wine made by Ellie’s brother, Dan Fitzgerald. The new Daniel label is extra special — Daniel wines are now owned and produced by Dan, AND his wife Barbara, AND Ellie’s father Chris and stepmom Honore. It’s truly a family affair!
This project has a lot of passion behind it, and these wines reflect an approach unlike any Dan has ever produced, and unlike anything we have tasted out of California before. These are tiny lots of wine from single vineyards, because, while Dan has mastered his craft as an award-winning winemaker, he also has access to incredible fruit which only comes from years of building relationships with growers.
Below we’ve shared the very personal stories of our three DANIEL club wines …we hope you enjoy the stories and the wines that inspired them.
Wine club this week also marks the beginning of the 2020 harvest for Dan. It also comes when yet another wildfire threatens their homes, the vineyards and the entire community. So please, wish for calm winds and successful containment from the heroic firefighters who are battling around the clock.
P. & E. Mullins
2019 Daniel Vernaccia Santo Giordano Vineyard,
Los Carneros, Sonoma County
Picture it: Tuscany. 2000. My cousin, Anna Maria and her husband, Alessandro owned and operated therestaurant in rural Lucca (Da Dante). This was their life, and even their son, Michele (no more than 10 years old at the time) helped them in the kitchen and on the floor. We visited them yearly and there was always a big meal here; 40-50 Italians (all relatives) eating delicious food and drinking local wine. This began long before 2000 (heck, long before I was even born). But this was the year I was introduced to Vernaccia, Tuscany's only DOCG white grape and one of the oldest in Italy. What a revelation it was! Growing up in a Sonoma wine family, I had never had anything like it – it's crisp and saline at first sip, then follows with warm spices, like cardamom and coriander, finishing with lingering citrus on your palate.
I continue to make my annual pilgrimage to Lucca, for the last decade with my husband, Dan by my side. He's as Northern European as the day is long, but he fits right in with my Mediterranean family. My cousins have retired from the restaurant, but they still host us at their farm. We sit at the table for (at minimum) eight hours, eat (at minimum) eight courses of farm-raised vegetables and meats and homemade pastas and, of course, we drink the local Vernaccia. When Dan told me last year that he found (to our knowledge) the only vernaccia grown in the US (right here in our beautiful Sonoma County!) it was like I had come full circle; my present and my future meets my past. Not to mention, Dan had become so enamored with the grape that it was a no-brainer: we're making this wine! The grapes hail from Sue Smith's Santo Giordano vineyard in Los Caneros. Her dad brought the grapes over from San Gimignano (not far from Lucca) when she was a little girl. At one point, the whole vineyard was Italian varieties, but those grapes just weren't selling for the premium the family needed. He replanted almost everything to pinot and chardonnay but kept sangiovese and this little known vernaccia because he was captivated by its expression in California. And now, we are, too.
To me, this wine is family. It's love. It's togetherness. It's magic. I hope when you drink it you feel a warm Mediterranean summer breeze and the embrace of true Italian hospitality. Salute, Barbara
2019 Daniel Sauvignon Blanc Gamino Vineyard
Russian River Valley, Sonoma County
While living in Europe during the ’80s and ’90s, I “discovered” French wine. One of my favorites was from Sancerre, a village on the Loire River southwest of Paris. For years I didn’t realize that Sancerre wine was sauvignon blanc, and once I did, it would forever be my benchmark for great "SB". Dan’s been on the lookout for years for a vineyard that could meet my lofty expectations. And then he found Gamino Vineyard, located in the Russian River Valley, where the valley transitions to the foothills of the Mayacama Mountains. Rocky soils with lots of silt provide both excellent drainage and water retention. Situated on a gentle eastern-facing slope, the grapes benefit from plenty of morning sun, yet are shaded from the hot summer afternoons. Dan’s winemaking approach was much the same as they’ve been doing in France for centuries. He whole-cluster-pressed directly to stainless steel for settling. The juice was racked the following day to neutral French oak barrels. He monitored carefully for the onset of natural fermentation, allowing the must to heat enough to stress the yeast and gain the mineral character we love (rather than the grassy style predominant in New World wines). The wine was aged sur lie and stirred weekly to achieve exceptional mouthfeel. Rather than share our tasting notes with you, I invite you to discover for yourself why this wine is special. We only made 45 cases, so you’ll have to move quickly! Chris
2019 Daniel Renaissance Rosé
Russian River Valley, Sonoma County
There’s a renaissance in our future — the 2019 Renaissance Rosé — a unique wine for so many reasons. While most of us have been sheltering in place, Dan’s been hard at work keeping the winery operating and his team safe, following the protocols of an “essential industry” here in California. Renaissance means reborn (something we’re all longing for this year), but it carries that name for another reason. Every year, Dan reimagines and recreates his rosé, in part because this wine is so versatile, and in part, because crafting rosé is his secret guilty pleasure. With this 2019 vintage, Dan set convention aside and chose to blend the delicate aromatics of pinot noir with the structure of sangiovese. The pinot is grown on Barbara’s family vineyard in the heart of Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley. The sangiovese is grown on the eastern edge of this same region, with a markedly different climate, bringing a cool and austere note of minerality to this crisp, refreshing wine.
2017 DANIEL Pinot Noir Grand Vent Vineyard
Petaluma Gap, Sonoma County
You’re right, this wine is not in your box this month. This wine is quite special and it’s a bit beyond the price point of the wine club, but we couldn’t help sharing about it with you. Here are Dan’s notes about this wine:
This pinot noir is sourced from the Grand Vent Vineyard in the windy, far western reaches of the Petaluma Gap. The vines, in their 19th year, are planted in a fine, sandy loam that is well drained and has low water retention. Yields are limited with very small, tight clusters and small berries due to water stress and almost constant windy conditions.
The 2017 vintage offered excellent growing conditions. A very wet winter, followed by a sunny spring, started the year off right. The rest of the vintage would have been perfect if not for a mid-August heat wave. The vines “shut down” for about a week and some fruit was lost, however the remaining grapes benefited from a lighter crop with more concentrated flavors.
I fermented the grapes with 30% of the fruit left whole cluster, the rest destemmed and crushed. The fruit was left to cold soak until the onset of indigenous, primary fermentation. I punched down the must up to three times daily during peak fermentation, then once a day when the sugar levels dropped.
Once the wine was 100% fermented, it went through natural (native) Malolactic fermentation indigenously. I aged the wine in 100% French Oak (a combination of once and twice-used barrels from the Troncais and Vosges forests) with no racking until 2 months before bottling.
Sixty days before bottling I racked the wine off its “lees” to help it settle completely. All wine movements were done without pumps or machines, instead, preferred the gentleness of gravity.
This wine is a deep red purple (unusually so for pinot noir) in the glass, the nose is full of black cherry, candied orange peel, violet candies and crushed peppercorn. Flavors of rhubarb, red currant and a graphite- almost charcoal mineral component are layered together in a complex and concentrated fruit profile. Super fine tannins and bright acidity meld together with a silky mouthfeel to bind together in a focused and long finish. This is a young, powerful wine that has many years of aging potential ahead of it.
Although it can be incredible to open now (with a decanter or even a day or so to breath), it is also a wine that would be special to cellar a way for years to come. There are just 45 cases produced and we were lucky enough to receive two here at the Bottle Shop. We wanted to give our wine club members a chance to have one for their cellar and one for their table. Instead of your regular 10% member we will pass along for the month of August and September the 15% discount that is usually just for re-orders of the current month’s Club wines. If you’d like us to reserve a bottle (or two!) just send over a note and we’d be happy to. It retails at $90.