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    from 2025
  • Food Pairing

    roasted lamb

The Tb points given to this wine are the world’s most valid and most up-to-date evaluation of the quality of the wine. Tastingbook points are formed by the Tastingbook algorithm which takes into account the wine ratings of the world's 50 best-known professional wine critics, wine ratings by thousands of tastingbook’s professionals and users, the generally recognised vintage quality and reputation of the vineyard and winery. Wine needs at least five professional ratings to get the Tb score. Tastingbook.com is the world's largest wine information service which is an unbiased, non-commercial and free for everyone.

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Lotus is the most adapted of our vineyards to heat. Over the last decade we have been moving toward dry-farming, forcing the vines to look deeper for water. Through the hot, dry season we kept one block of Lotus completely dry- farmed. This caused some nervousness and second guessing through the 105F plus temperatures September 8-10th. But we were rewarded with small, intense berries that weathered the heat with little dehydration. We started harvest during a cool spell on September 12th when peak temperatures had dropped to a more normal 88F, just before another heat spell. The clone 337 ripened a bit slower and was harvested on September 23rd. We paired the fruit and structure expressed by the different clones with three different fermentation tank types; concrete, oak upright, and barrels. The wines were fermented with native yeast and macerated on skins for 31 and 46 days. The clone 15 had the most structure and took the longest for the fruit and tannin to integrate.

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The Story

Out of the three Dana Estate owned vineyards, the Lotus vineyard located on St. Helena hillsides, stands at 1200 feet above sea level with a beautiful panoramic view of the Napa Valley floor.

This steep hillside vineyard is spread over the rocky, low-yielding soils with Western exposure. Thanks to the influence of the afternoon sun, the wines shows ripe and rich fruitiness while the three to twelve inches, fractured grey bedrock soil generates the marked mineral structure to the wine.

“This is incredibly dry, well-drained soil that has very low water holding capacity and in dry, warm vintages it reflects outstanding a level of grape ripeness,” Vawter sums up. 

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Wine Information

The 2015 vintage produced excellent fruit quality. Our vineyards received slightly less than average rainfall, but compared to the previous years of drought conditions the vines started the growing season with ample water in the soil. The winter and spring were among the warmest on record, and pushed bud-break two to three weeks ahead of 2013 and 2014, setting up for an early harvest. The warm dry spring led to less vine growth with shorter than average shoots. However, the much smaller than average crop with small berries and loose clusters created balanced vines. The warm spring gave way to a summer that was hot and dry, causing some challenges with numerous heat spells that lasted multiple days. The small vine canopies and our dedication to minimal irrigation over the last decade paid dividends in 2015 with exceptional fruit integrity, even after prolonged 100F+ days with extremely low humidity. This gave us the flexibility to harvest based on flavor, not desiccation level. The vintage will be remembered as an early, low-yielding, hot vintage, with focused, intense wines of defining quality.

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

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Written Notes

Lastly, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Lotus Vineyard from the base of Howell Mountain is 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot that spent over two years in 90% new barrels. It’s a ripe, sexy wine that has a huge nose of crème de cassis, blueberry liqueur, crushed rocks, and liquid violet characteristics as well as obvious minerality and earth. Deep, full-bodied, and incredibly powerful on the palate, it’s one of those “iron fist in a velvet glove” wines that marries massive depth of fruit with serious amounts of structure. This totally thrilling, world-class effort is going to last for 3-4 decades.

  • 99p

A barrel sample due to be bottled in January 2018, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Lotus Vineyard has a deep garnet-purple color and very primary black and blue fruit nose of warm plums, blueberries and black cherries plus hints of spice box and pencil shavings. Full-bodied, rich, concentrated and firmly structured with ripe, grainy tannins, it has bags of depth and a very long, multilayered finish.

A very impressive revival of this historical estate in Rutherford (formally the Livingston-Moffett Estate), under the diligent consultancy of Philippe Melka, Dana Estates is producing polished and expressive superstar wines from three wonderfully diverse vineyards. Helms Vineyard consists of five acres on gravelly loam, right on the northern edge of the Rutherford bench, planted in 1997 and 1998. Hershey Vineyard on Howell Mountain is 26 acres in total, 18 of which were planted in 2008. It is planted to just about all aspects imaginable, so it’s quite a varied site, although the Dana Hershey label comes mainly from just four blocks. Lotus Vineyard is just below Howell Mountain, not high enough to make that AVA. A very steep vineyard, 100% hand farmed, Lotus is by far the warmest site for this estate. Onda is a blend of all the vineyards, including their fourth Crystal Springs vineyard, which does not produce a single vineyard wine. As with most of Northern California, 2015 was a very small vintage for Dana Estates, producing very small berries with little or no seeds, which is likely a contributing factor to the firm yet beautifully ripe, sensuous tannins this vintage lends. After the drought vintages and a larger crop in 2014, 2015 naturally set a smaller crop. 2016 gave a really nice balance between fruit set and canopy with very little crop thinning required. I was offered a tasting of a few older vintages of these remarkable wines, which are aging gracefully and revealing the potential of these incredible vineyards.

  • 97p

After over two years in barrel, the 2015 Lotus Cabernet Sauvignon displays a deep purple color and a youthful vibrancy. Aromas of blackberry, roasted plums, espresso, India ink, graphite, dark chocolate, and nutmeg. The wine is full bodied with a creamy richness. It captures the essence of Lotus Vineyard in its firm structure and concentration while retaining energy and balance. Classic blue and black fruit preserves, and warm spice flavors coat the palate. Enjoy 2019 through 2035 and beyond.

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St Helena, Napa Valley


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