Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

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Steven Rigisich
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Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#1 Post by Steven Rigisich » May 15th, 2011, 8:00 pm

Dan was one of the first modern winemakers to craft pinot noir in a traditional style. His wines have both finesse and elegance, but also depth and intensity. Dan is the perfect person to ask those questions you may have regarding the more traditional style of pinot noir - after all, he’s been crafting pinot in this style for 25 years. He started making pinot in 1990 at La Crema, and soon after became Hartford Court’s first winemaker. Dutton Goldfield was founded in 1998 with his partner, Steve Dutton.

Dutton-Goldfield has always been a favorite of ours, especially wines like the Devil’s Gulch from Marin County. We love it, I think, for the very reasons Dan intended – because he is trying to make elegant wines that have impact. We feel that his Devil’s Gulch epitomizes that. And Dan himself epitomizes what we admire about pinot people – conviction, passion and vision. We are looking forward to these next two days!


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Re: Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#2 Post by Mike Grammer » May 16th, 2011, 7:47 am

Welcome, Dan, looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Steve's intro begs some questions, this time...

a. what was the triggering event for you to decide to leave first La Crema and then Hartford Court
b. do you miss the vineyards, winemaking approach or team at either place---and were there people there that you particularly admired or looked to emulate?
c. what did you decide to do similarly and what differently from what you'd seen of operations at La Crema and Hartford?

I have to admit, I've only had the chance to try one Dutton-Goldfield Pinot and it was back in 2006 when I made a quick stop at the winery.

"2004 Dutton-Goldfield MacDougall Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast)

Cinnamon I think, along with cherries and a dab of cola. More balance here, with the spiciness and some anise continuing and linking up with raspberry and cherry."


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Re: Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#3 Post by Dan Goldfield » May 16th, 2011, 8:01 am

Good morning all - should be a fun week at the cellar at DG. We're finishing constructing the 2010 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay blends. We'll pull our favorite barrels to make the vineyard designated lots, then go back to barrel for aging until next spring.

It 's one of my favorite endeavors - from each vineyard there will usually be a few fermentation lots (block variations, clonal, yeast etc.), and not all needs to be used in the blend. We've been doing weeks of bench tasting variations. Now we'll make the wines in the winery - since not all of each lot needs to make the blend, choosing the specific barrels is an important and rewarding task. The other thing that's really fun is to choose the barrels that each blend will go back to - often different than the ones they came out of. Usually the percentage of new oak that we choose to pull from is lower than the percentage we go back to. At this point we often use 2010 wood that's had chard fermented in it for the newly blended Pinot lots. The once used wood is less aggressive and has lost smoky/tarry flavors to show more of the buttercream/ginger/spice that I love in our wines. It's also fun to choose what particular cooperage shows best for each vineyard and help make the vineyard statement that way.

Dan

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Re: Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#4 Post by Dan Goldfield » May 16th, 2011, 8:38 am

Mike Grammer wrote:Welcome, Dan, looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Steve's intro begs some questions, this time...

a. what was the triggering event for you to decide to leave first La Crema and then Hartford Court
b. do you miss the vineyards, winemaking approach or team at either place---and were there people there that you particularly admired or looked to emulate?
c. what did you decide to do similarly and what differently from what you'd seen of operations at La Crema and Hartford?

I have to admit, I've only had the chance to try one Dutton-Goldfield Pinot and it was back in 2006 when I made a quick stop at the winery.

"2004 Dutton-Goldfield MacDougall Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast)

Cinnamon I think, along with cherries and a dab of cola. More balance here, with the spiciness and some anise continuing and linking up with raspberry and cherry."


Maluhia,
Hi Mike,

You bring me back with your questions. There wasn't so much a triggering event as a career evolution. When I started at La Crema in 1990 we were under 20,000 cases and really just getting started on exploring Pinot in our part of the world. When Jess bought it in 1993 he gave me an awesome opportunity to do just that. There was a huge amount of creative freedom in that company back then - the whole group was growing so fast and Jess was really supportive of looking for new vineyard areas (the core, in many ways of what I did then) and developing winemaking. Starting Hartford Court from our favorite vineyards from the 1994 vintage (a great one as you probably know) was a great next step. As la Crema and Hartford grew, along with the whole organization, the job needs change a bit. For me it became a bit of a decision - did I want to be the craftsman or an executive? In a larger organization it's hard to be both, so that was the time to start my own thing. My friendship with Steve Dutton made it an easy move.

I'm still great friends with any in the KJ group and have great admiration for what has been accomplished. Losing Jess recently was sad for the industry and our county. I was at Jess's memorial last week and was totally struck by the amazing group of winemakers, growers and wine executives who attended - a great testimony.

To your second question - I always miss my favorite old vineyards, but have a wonderful array now, and get to drink the Hartford wines made by the great winemakers who worked with them after me. Jeff Mangahas, who just left Hartford after 5 years to be the winemaker at Williams Selyem had been our assistant at DG for years before that, and makes spectacular wines. My winemaking approach is pretty similar to what it was back then so that part continues to evolve. There were lots of great folks who taught me in those days, but honestly more on the business side then winemaking. Not a lot of Pinot winemakers then. Jess himself was truly an inspiring guy - mostly for the trust he gave me, and the expectation of excellence from himself and those around him. One of the great wine professionals (to me) ever was a man named Mike Harstaad, who's also now passed away, who was the president of the sales organization in the 90's. I admired these guys not for particular accomplishments or ideas, but for their passion, focus, dedication and continual desire to learn.

To your last question - It's a bit of a continuum. My focus has always been to craft wine from my favorite pieces of land and try to express the place. What's different at Dutton-Goldfield, is that I am able to craft the organization to make space for me to personally do that. I'm certainly more suited to the small group - we have a great little team here of folks I love to be around.

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Re: Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#5 Post by Martin Keen » May 16th, 2011, 9:06 am

Hello Dan:

A few questions about your cold soak. I'm using Haegar's Pacific Pinot Noir as a guideline. With temperature controlled fermentors do you just add dry ice at the beginning to help reduce the temperature and fill the fermentor with CO2 or do you add it several times? At what temperature do you try to maintain the cold soak and for how long? If you are still putting whole berries into the fermentor and punching down during the cold soak, doesn't that destroy the integrity of the berries? I would think punching down whole berries would be difficult and after a day or two a majority of the berries would be crushed and a more normal red fermentation would begin.

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Re: Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#6 Post by JDonner » May 16th, 2011, 9:21 am

The other thing that's really fun is to choose the barrels that each blend will go back to - often different than the ones they came out of. Usually the percentage of new oak that we choose to pull from is lower than the percentage we go back to. At this point we often use 2010 wood that's had chard fermented in it for the newly blended Pinot lots. The once used wood is less aggressive and has lost smoky/tarry flavors to show more of the buttercream/ginger/spice that I love in our wines. It's also fun to choose what particular cooperage shows best for each vineyard and help make the vineyard statement that way.

Dan[/quote]

Hi Dan,

Thanks for participating in this forum. Can you expound on this some more as I think it makes a lot of sense(if you know what you are looking for) with a more temperamental varietal.
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Re: Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#7 Post by Dan Goldfield » May 16th, 2011, 10:07 am

Martin Keen wrote:Hello Dan:

A few questions about your cold soak. I'm using Haegar's Pacific Pinot Noir as a guideline. With temperature controlled fermentors do you just add dry ice at the beginning to help reduce the temperature and fill the fermentor with CO2 or do you add it several times? At what temperature do you try to maintain the cold soak and for how long? If you are still putting whole berries into the fermentor and punching down during the cold soak, doesn't that destroy the integrity of the berries? I would think punching down whole berries would be difficult and after a day or two a majority of the berries would be crushed and a more normal red fermentation would begin.

Martin Keen
Hi Martin - great production questions - We always do add dry ice just to gas the tank before destemming, but if the fruit is cool coming in - say 60 or less - we won't add extra dry ice for cooling. It's a bit expensive and inefficient unless really needed. For us the CO2 is for blankeeting against O2 mostly. We almost never add so2 before fermentation (I feel like phenolic development is retarded by so2 add) so temp control and O2 exclusion is important. the concept of cold soak is to get extraction from the skins before alcohol is present - this gives us the color and spice, to the exclusion of harsher seed tannins. to that effect, we want it as warm as possible, while still preventing fermentation - for us, generally around 50 f works well. Getting the fruit picked in the cold morning is key. We'll generally keep it chilled for about 5 days and see how it goes with respect to extraction and the ferm taking off. Each fermentation is different and the key to winemaking in general is attention to the details of each lot.

We do punch down frequently during the cold soak, as I feel that this is the most important time for extraction. This does juice the berries, but that's a good thing - we're not going for carbonic, but gentle extraction. The key is to no break them up and remove the seeds too much. The idea of the whole berries is to extract from the skins more than the seeds, so getting juice out is fine. You're right about punching whole berries being difficult - welcome to winemaking.

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Re: Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#8 Post by Dan Goldfield » May 16th, 2011, 10:33 am

JDonner wrote:The other thing that's really fun is to choose the barrels that each blend will go back to - often different than the ones they came out of. Usually the percentage of new oak that we choose to pull from is lower than the percentage we go back to. At this point we often use 2010 wood that's had chard fermented in it for the newly blended Pinot lots. The once used wood is less aggressive and has lost smoky/tarry flavors to show more of the buttercream/ginger/spice that I love in our wines. It's also fun to choose what particular cooperage shows best for each vineyard and help make the vineyard statement that way.

Dan
Hi Dan,

Thanks for participating in this forum. Can you expound on this some more as I think it makes a lot of sense(if you know what you are looking for) with a more temperamental varietal.[/quote]

Sure - with anything in winemaking (and maybe most things) you're always balancing between making too much of an impact or maybe not helping out enough. When in doubt, always do less; so when we first go to barrel we'll always use less new wood than we think it can handle, then asses the wine at this blending point to see what would most benefit it, without getting in the way of what the fruit is all about.

Two things are gained by doing this. The first is that all wines pick up wood impression differently - and certainly with a sensitive varietal like pinot that is doubly important. Lower alcohol wines pick up wood more slowly, and high acid wines show wood less - and of course, more intense fruit will be able to take more would but not show it - there are some great wines of the world that go into almost all new oak but you'd never know it. By making the blend now and assessing the wood at this point we get to fine tune the nuances of the wine. For instance, the Devil's Gulch the last few years has absolutely loved a bit of Seguin Moreau Icone barrrels in the second fill - brings out the natural mushroom/earth of that wine - Fox Den loves the Remond Trancais for it's floral elements - but in both cases I love that year in the second fill barrels. Also, when you ferment chardonnay in a new barrel, it really softens the later phenolic impact of that barrel. The massive amount of protein from the yeast during a barrel fermentation essentially fines the harsher wood tannins.

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Re: Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#9 Post by T Welch » May 16th, 2011, 1:38 pm

Hi Dan,

Thanks for taking the time to participate here. I have 3 of each: 2006 and 2007 Freestone, and 2006 and 2007 Devil's Gulch. I tasted these at your winery on release, and was planning on keeping these for another few years as I believe they'll improve. If you were in my situation, with only 3 of each, when would open them? And what are the similarities and differences in these 4 wines?

Thanks again, and regards,

Truett
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Re: Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#10 Post by Eric Lundblad » May 16th, 2011, 3:08 pm

Hey Dan,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.

What are your thoughts on whole cluster?

2010 was an interesting and tricky vintage. I know it's a bit early to be drawing conclusions about 2010 wines, but what do you think the keys to success last year were (other than luck I mean :)?
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Re: Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#11 Post by Steven Rigisich » May 16th, 2011, 3:29 pm

Dan,

How does this rain affect flowering (for those not in California, we have already received a good dose of rain and are forecasted to get up to an inch through tomorrow)? I recall that in 2005 there were some heavy rains in the True Sonoma Coast around this time of year when flowering had just begun and those rains all but wiped out the vintage for vineyards like Summa and Seascape.....

Regards,
Steve
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Re: Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#12 Post by Dan Goldfield » May 16th, 2011, 4:01 pm

Truett W e l c h wrote:Hi Dan,

Thanks for taking the time to participate here. I have 3 of each: 2006 and 2007 Freestone, and 2006 and 2007 Devil's Gulch. I tasted these at your winery on release, and was planning on keeping these for another few years as I believe they'll improve. If you were in my situation, with only 3 of each, when would open them? And what are the similarities and differences in these 4 wines?

Thanks again, and regards,

Truett
Thanks Truett,

I've had all of those wines recently and they're all showing well. 2006 is a more delicate vintage, very aromatic. I would drink that a bit sooner - probably now and for the next 3 to 5 years. The 2007 will clearly benefit by aging a few more years, but it also depends of how you like to drink your wines. The 2005 Freestone is currently showing spectacularly and has years to go - the '07 is a denser wine than that. I like the mushroom and spice that develops with age, and would drink that Freestone between 9 and 12 years from vintage or so for optimum age, I think. The 2007 Devil's is one of my all time favorites that we've made - it's incredibly juicy right now, but will certainly last for another 5 to ten years. For comparison, the 2002 Devil's is pretty much at its peak right now (if properly stored), but the 2007 was a richer wine at bottling.

The whole subject of aging is a complicated one, as each wine has different things to give at different times in its life. It's also a matter of personal taste. I tend to love my favorite California Pinots at 5 to 10 years from vintage - but that said, the 1996 Hartford Pinots I have in my cellar are showing tremendously right now. Vintages definitely diverge as they age - like in Burgundy only the very best years go a really long time. Enjoy - let me know how they are when you drink them.
Steven Rigisich wrote:Dan,

How does this rain affect flowering (for those not in California, we have already received a good dose of rain and are forecasted to get up to an inch through tomorrow)? I recall that in 2005 there were some heavy rains in the True Sonoma Coast around this time of year when flowering had just begun and those rains all but wiped out the vintage for vineyards like Summa and Seascape.....

Regards,
Steve

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Re: Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#13 Post by Dan Goldfield » May 16th, 2011, 4:15 pm

Steven Rigisich wrote:Dan,

How does this rain affect flowering (for those not in California, we have already received a good dose of rain and are forecasted to get up to an inch through tomorrow)? I recall that in 2005 there were some heavy rains in the True Sonoma Coast around this time of year when flowering had just begun and those rains all but wiped out the vintage for vineyards like Summa and Seascape.....

Regards,
Steve
Hey Steve,

It's certainly not a good thing, especially not the hail I had at my house this morning. Fortunately thee is no bloom yet in my Green Valley neighborhood. Today's rain could certainly have a real impact on the places that are already in bloom though. Generally, one isolated rain isn't a big issue, but the grapes set best in temperatures of 70 to 85 degrees F or so, so extended rain can be a real problem. Big heat after a rain can be a huge issue, as it creates lots of humidity in the canopy and prevents the pollination by "persistent calyptra", where the cap over the stamen doesn't separate and prevents pollination. This is what happened in the incredibly low yielding 2003 vintage.

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Re: Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#14 Post by Mike Bennett » May 16th, 2011, 5:53 pm

Hello, Dan.

I echo the thanks for participating in this forum. It's particularly enlightening for a consumer such as myself. I've enjoyed many of your wines over the years. Tonight I opened an 07 "Mystere Vineyards" RRV Pinot. As the name suggests, this wine is a little shrouded in mystery and it's hard to find much specific info about it. Can't even find a reference on your web site. It was recommended to me some time ago by someone knowledgeable and I have indeed enjoyed it, but what can you tell us about it? Thanks.

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Re: Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#15 Post by Dan Goldfield » May 16th, 2011, 6:45 pm

Mike Bennett wrote:Hello, Dan.

I echo the thanks for participating in this forum. It's particularly enlightening for a consumer such as myself. I've enjoyed many of your wines over the years. Tonight I opened an 07 "Mystere Vineyards" RRV Pinot. As the name suggests, this wine is a little shrouded in mystery and it's hard to find much specific info about it. Can't even find a reference on your web site. It was recommended to me some time ago by someone knowledgeable and I have indeed enjoyed it, but what can you tell us about it? Thanks.
You're going deep there Mike. Mystere is a special bottling I did for Bear Dalton from Specs in Texas. I love that wine also. It's actually from Goldridge Vineyard here in Green Valley (now called Emeritus). We purchased 2 great blocks, one clone 777 and one clone 828. It's always fun to make some great local fruit grown by friends. I haven't tasted it in a while - now I'll have to crack a bottle.

Dan

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Re: Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#16 Post by Keith Wresch » May 16th, 2011, 9:02 pm

Dan a couple of questions:

a) You're wines are seem to hew to a sort of middle road -- a focus on the lush fruit that is typical of California, but never excessive alcohol nor stylistically forced one way or the other. Actually they seem slightly lower in alcohol than many Pinots of similar caliber and price range in California, and I'm wondering what are you're criteria for ripeness and vineyard work to produce the sort of wines you are looking for -- ie. we've had Well Guthrie talk about moving to pick at a lower brix, and Chad Melville talk about canopy management, so sort of what are the markers you look for in grape ripeness and what sort of wine you want to produce.

b) My second question is how do you see your wines evolution with time? I know you gave approximate drinking windows for certain vintages above, but I guess I'm asking because when I had the 2006 McDougall recently it seemed to be moving towards 'secondary' characteristics, in that it had shed much of it's intial fruit and fat, but was now showing more a bit structure and the lovely acidity that underpins the wine.

And last question -- though this may be off topic -- but would be say a word or two about what you do and how you treat your Zinfandel from Morelli Lane as the wine does seem very much like your Pinots, and unlike any other Zinfandel out there, but is that due to the vineyard and it's location or more winemaking choices or a bit of both?

Anyway thanks for being here, and glad to see you as one of the featured guests as your wines don't seem to get the attention of some of the other producers.

Keith

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Re: Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#17 Post by Lewis Dawson » May 16th, 2011, 9:42 pm

Thanks for participating, Dan. I would be interested to hear your views on the pros and cons of wineries having their own vineyards versus working with purchased fruit, for California pinot noir. It seems to me (as an outsider) that the high end Napa cabernet guys are heavily into estate vineyards, but in pinot noir the purchase contract model is more common. How do you see this trending over the next decade or longer, and why? Mnay thanks.
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Re: Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#18 Post by Dan Goldfield » May 16th, 2011, 11:44 pm

Eric Lundblad wrote:Hey Dan,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.

What are your thoughts on whole cluster?

2010 was an interesting and tricky vintage. I know it's a bit early to be drawing conclusions about 2010 wines, but what do you think the keys to success last year were (other than luck I mean :)?
Hi Eric - So sorry I missed this earlier - hectic day.

I've played with whole cluster ferments many times over the years. It can give a nice element in the wine - usually a spice, sometimes almost a camphor and mineral element, but it's not been so much my own personal style. We tend to like the roundness and fruit that seems to come from whole berries and cold soak, but stem inclusion has not been an important element for me. It seems that every time I work with a new assistant winemaker, we do a new whole cluster controlled experiment but it's never stayed a big part of our program - not to say that many great wines aren't made using them - bring me a Dujac Clos St. Denis any time and I'll be glad to enjoy it with you.

I love the 2010's - maybe it's my rebellious streak. The key, as always was attention to each individual block and lot. The Pinots are super dark and rich, even with low alcohols. We tended to have fairly short fermenter times post fermentation, as the juice yields were very low, and phenolic pickup was quite fast. Careful farming - thank you Steve - was certainly a key - not too much leaf pulling on the sun side - big help in the heat spell, low enough crop to begin with so that the skins were ripe enough before the rains hit, and of course good water status in the vines before the heat hit. Our crops turned out to be really tiny, as we lost a lot in the first heat - this wasn't a quality issue as the heat affected berries just dried up and went away, but it made it a very expensive year (low crop, by the acre pricing) - what remained has a lot of intensity and character though.

My favorites are the Green Valley wines - the Dutton Ranch blend in 2010 is as good or better than ever, and Emerald Ridge Vineyard is super dense but balanced. It's been a really fun year for me - I think that when you've been doing it a long time success in the presence of challenges is most satisfying - kind of like skiing the Baldy Chutes - a bit of pucker factor, but that wonderful sense of exertion.

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Re: Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#19 Post by Dan Goldfield » May 17th, 2011, 12:06 am

Lewis Dawson wrote:Thanks for participating, Dan. I would be interested to hear your views on the pros and cons of wineries having their own vineyards versus working with purchased fruit, for California pinot noir. It seems to me (as an outsider) that the high end Napa cabernet guys are heavily into estate vineyards, but in pinot noir the purchase contract model is more common. How do you see this trending over the next decade or longer, and why? Mnay thanks.
I'll leave the Italian bikes and French wine handle - I could spend a lot of time on that one - though I assume you're referring to a Ducati vs. a Harley, not Pinerello vs. a Calfee, which is what i ride.

Anyway, both models of owning or purchasing fruit can work perfectly as long as the relationship is right, and many of the best California wineries actively seek a balance between the two as an economic hedge. From a quality standpoint, of course the key is great farming, no matter who owns it. As a small winery it can be more advantageous to purchase fruit, as the cost of farming just a tiny plot is off the charts, and in the end the risk is shared, as long as the incentive to the grower to produce perfect fruit is there. Certainly for us working with the Duttons, that relationship works great. On the other hand someone with the wherewithal to plant and farm perfectly for their own winery can craft the fruit and wine they need for their own vision from beginning to end. I think that with Pinot i first look at the piece of land, then figure out how to get it farmed the way the fruit demands. the land always comes first.

In general, small Pinot wineries have been less profligately funded than their Napa counterparts, so the purchase model is more common for that reason. In the end it's doing the best with the resources you have. It's fascinating to me how much of the craft is creatively husbanding the available resources you have. that creativity is clearly more important than the gross magnitude of the resources. Certainly the business will trend to more estate owned properties, but as long as home grown farmers like the Duttons and Martinellis keep selling fruit of such exceptional quality it will be just part of the picture.

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Re: Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#20 Post by Dan Goldfield » May 17th, 2011, 12:42 am

Keith Wresch wrote:Dan a couple of questions:

a) You're wines are seem to hew to a sort of middle road -- a focus on the lush fruit that is typical of California, but never excessive alcohol nor stylistically forced one way or the other. Actually they seem slightly lower in alcohol than many Pinots of similar caliber and price range in California, and I'm wondering what are you're criteria for ripeness and vineyard work to produce the sort of wines you are looking for -- ie. we've had Well Guthrie talk about moving to pick at a lower brix, and Chad Melville talk about canopy management, so sort of what are the markers you look for in grape ripeness and what sort of wine you want to produce.

b) My second question is how do you see your wines evolution with time? I know you gave approximate drinking windows for certain vintages above, but I guess I'm asking because when I had the 2006 McDougall recently it seemed to be moving towards 'secondary' characteristics, in that it had shed much of it's intial fruit and fat, but was now showing more a bit structure and the lovely acidity that underpins the wine.

And last question -- though this may be off topic -- but would be say a word or two about what you do and how you treat your Zinfandel from Morelli Lane as the wine does seem very much like your Pinots, and unlike any other Zinfandel out there, but is that due to the vineyard and it's location or more winemaking choices or a bit of both?

Anyway thanks for being here, and glad to see you as one of the featured guests as your wines don't seem to get the attention of some of the other producers.

Keith
Hey Kieth, thanks for the kind words - you're challenging me this time of night - but I'll give it a whirl. In the end it's always a combination of the land, the vintage, the farming and the vision of the winemaker - the more these are in synch, the better the wine will speak of its place and people. We do like lush wine, but with low etoh and good acidity - the first key here is the cool sandy loam hills of west county, where the skins ripen quickly (the really well drained soil is a key) before the sugar gets too high. Farming is a big part, where a balanced vine (crop load, water status, leaf area, canopy management) will promote ripening metabolism. That said, the vintage progression is huge - a long cool end of the year. like in 2009, and even 2010 is what I love slow sugar rise, low acid drop, great skin development. In the end I pick to phenolic ripeness - chewy skins that give their color up easily, brown seeds - it's something that can't be imparted in any other way. Obviously, the brix at picking determines the alcohol, but we're picking to a flavor from the skins and seeds, and given all the other factors we've tried to work with hope the acid and alcohol fall where we'd like at that time.

I agree about the evolution of the wines. Young, you get the ebullience of youth, but not yet the nuance and complexity of age. some wines, like the McDougall get more solid with a bit of age as the baby fat falls off. I love the McDougal's as they get a bit of time (certainly Mac himself represents that). the keep to being very solid wines, but the cherry sourball and minerality really come foreward. The McDougall is my favorite of our 2002's right now. Other of our wines, like the Freestone seem to "puff" out as they age - they get blousier and more mushroom, spice, savory characters. I'm on an older wine kick these days so I love watching this evolution. Clearly, if I taste a lineup of say our 2009's right now, each DV Pinot is far more similar to the others than it will be in five years.

I have to say that when I buy a wine I love at release (recently some 2008's from St. Innocent), I ten to buy 3 bottle of each. i know I'm going to rob the cradle on one, then wait a while for the second, which will hopefully give me the outside limit for the third. that's the concept anyway - but all bets are off when my brother shows up in my cellar.

Ahh, the old Zin question - we love making the Morelli Zin. My first great compliment on the wine was when someone said that it was clearly a zin made by a pinot producer - at least I took it as a compliment. the style of that wine is clearly a combination of the vineyard, and our winemaking. Since it's a bit further weest and cooler that most Russian River zins, we don't get quite as much raisining, so the alcohols are a bit lower, and the acids are high as most zins in this neighborhood. But when you make a zin like a pinot (punch down, cold soak) you some up with a bit more of a nuanced wine wine than when you make it like a claret with pumpovers in closed tanks. We also love our $$$$ pinot barrels for Morelli - Taransaud is an awesome Zin barrel, if not the best economic choice - there is actually almost nothing I don't like Taransaud for( other than the $1100 per barrel tag with the current exchange). It's like a base coat to me - just give a platform for the wine to show itself. My outlook in general is to bring out detail in a wine, by whatever technique, as that's where the personality lies for me.

This is fun - just hope I don't need to work tomorrow.

Thanks so much for your interest - come see it in person when you get a chance.

Dan

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Ken Zinns
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Re: Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#21 Post by Ken Zinns » May 17th, 2011, 9:50 am

Hi Dan,

I had the pleasure of visiting Devil's Gulch Ranch last summer with Mark Pasternak, and I believe that you were the first to release a Pinot Noir from his vineyard (Kalin had made sparkling wine from there before). At the time, Marin County was virtually unknown as a winegrape-growing area. What did you see in the Devil's Gulch vineyard and fruit that led you to take a chance with it? Obviously you've made some very nice wines from there over the years. And any observations on where Marin County Pinot Noir in general may be headed from here? Seems like a promising area that gets little attention. Thanks.

Ken
ITB, Harrington Wines & Eno Wines, and Grape-Nutz.com

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Re: Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#22 Post by Dan Goldfield » May 17th, 2011, 10:30 am

Ken Zinns wrote:Hi Dan,

I had the pleasure of visiting Devil's Gulch Ranch last summer with Mark Pasternak, and I believe that you were the first to release a Pinot Noir from his vineyard (Kalin had made sparkling wine from there before). At the time, Marin County was virtually unknown as a winegrape-growing area. What did you see in the Devil's Gulch vineyard and fruit that led you to take a chance with it? Obviously you've made some very nice wines from there over the years. And any observations on where Marin County Pinot Noir in general may be headed from here? Seems like a promising area that gets little attention. Thanks.

Ken
Devil's has everything I love about Pinot Noir - unique, beautiful and difficult site, idosycratic flavor characteristics, total character of a grower. I first heard from Mark Pasternak in 1991 when he was looking for someone to take his Pinot which he planted in 1980 (the reasons are a whole other story). My first reaction of course, was "I didn't know there were grapes in Marin - and relatively speaking there is very little - there are about 60,000 acres of vines in Sonoma county and only about 200 in Marin (most of them farmed by Mark). But when I went to visit the appeal was instant - super steep hillside, very low yield, very close to the coast. I've been making the wine ever since - it always has that wild blackberry, a bit of leather and great struture to it - great aging wine.

Marin has great potential, but is economically difficult because of the inherently low yields of these difficult places, and the low recognition so far in the market. Mark planted a beautiful vineyard called Azaya at the corner of Hicks Valley road that we're getting some great fruit from now as well - really bright - almost Volnay like. Skywalker Ranch also has some great Pinot on Lucas Valley Rd., and Mark also farms a ranch called Chilleno Valley Vineyard a bit further east. All of these ranches have many characteristics of the Sonoma Coast, as you might imagine as it's pretty much a continuation of that geography. It's fun making wine in a cool new place, and helping get the word out for it.

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Re: Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#23 Post by JDonner » May 17th, 2011, 7:43 pm

Coatailing on that last question,
what other areas/AVA's are most promising for the future? and
Do you think we will see sub AVA's getting officially recognized eventually(logical one seems to be True Conoma Coast)... any others Subs?
[cheers.gif] This has been really informative look forward to meeting you down the road.
Joe
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Re: Pinot Days Winemaker Weeks: Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield

#24 Post by Dan Goldfield » May 17th, 2011, 10:23 pm

JDonner wrote:Coatailing on that last question,
what other areas/AVA's are most promising for the future? and
Do you think we will see sub AVA's getting officially recognized eventually(logical one seems to be True Conoma Coast)... any others Subs?
[cheers.gif] This has been really informative look forward to meeting you down the road.
Thanks - I'm just sitting here frustrated because I just composed a long post about blending our Rued Vineyard chard in the winery today and somehow it got dropped for the second time - I gues it wasn't meant to be - and I'm an online moron.

To your question about AVA's - I'm kind of the curmudgeon on that one - I feel like long history and a true geographical coherence is key before we even consider new ones. Obviously, the current Sonoma Coast appellation is a joke, and some breakdown would be great - as a winemaker I've long considered different areas within it, as well as in Russian River. The first two ridges from the coast north of the Russian River are what I consider the classic Sonoma Coast. They're high - often above the fog and distinctive for mineral elements and firm tannin structure in my mind (Hirsch, McDougall, Flowers..). The ridges south for the river tend to break down a bit and are clearly cooler than those to the north - more berry in character in my mind (Taylor land and Fitzpatrick lane) - these then go south to the Freestone area (Salmon Creek drainage) which is even cooler, foggier and tend to have more leafy, savory characteristics to me. Likewise I break down the RR - Green Valley (which of course is an appellation in its own right), Laguna Ridge, Middle Reach, Santa Rosa plain, Sebastopol Hills - anyway, this is all academic stuff and fun when you really know the place but a bit to much for the market, and certainly the government, to deal with. Marin, of course has no ava's, jsut the political boundary - I could see coastal Marin being drawn as an appellation some day, but there certainly isn't critical mass, or

The reality is that a process that involves the government (which has no interest in wine culturally), and is generally driven by the most aggressive business interests, is fraught with politics and self interest and loses sight of the things we care about as connoisseurs. But I'll get off my soap box.

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