Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dane Cellars

After over two decades working in the wine industry, winemaker Bart Hansen founded Dane Cellars in 2007. Named after his son who was born the same year, Bart brought his experience from working for such world renown wineries as Kenwood Vineyards, Benziger Family Winery and Imagery Estate Wines. Drawing from this experience, Dane Cellars produces two Cabernet Sauvignon wines, a Zinfendel and a Chenin Blanc. I recently tasted the Clarksberg Chenin Blanc and the Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

The thing with Bart Hansen's wine is, as the old adage goes - he's so good, he makes it look/taste so easy. In a world where words like big and robust are what winemakers strive for to please critics, I often feel the finesse and careful balance that must go into producing wine is over looked. It is clear with both of these wines that great care goes into producing quality wines, focused on using quality fruit, all while making them very approachable, not only in price, but also in style - these wines are very food friendly and easy to drink.

As Bart recently said in a blog post of his own:
I was asked, why Chenin Blanc? My first thought was the sarcastic answer, why not Chenin Blanc? But then I thought about it. When I first started in the wine business Chenin Blanc was planted throughout the north coast. But as the popularity of Chardonnay and other varieties grew the acres in Sonoma and Napa started to shrink and so did the amount of wineries producing Chenin. There are very limited plantings in Sonoma/Napa these days, also Monterey, Mendocino, & Santa Barbara counties. We produced a Dry Chenin Blanc when I worked at Kenwood Vineyards, and it was a great wine but like so many other producers Sauvignon Blanc & Chardonnay were dominating the white wine market. So the Chenin Blanc that we received was used as a blending grape in the Vintage White Table wine. So when we started our winery it was a chance to make a wine I enjoyed drinking and to try to pay it the respect that I think it deserves.
I can honestly say that with this wine, he has paid Chenin Blanc a tramendous amount of respect. The crisp nose, that bursts with great citrus fruit is just the beginning. Upon tasting this wine, refreshing tropical fruits dominate the taste. There is a perfect balance of acidity and a smooth finish that leaves your taste-buds wanting more. At $15 a bottle, this is a summer white I could drink everyday.

Rating: A

Upon pouring the 2007 Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon I was impressed by the very nice, deep fruit on the nose, but it was when I took the first taste that I realized that Bart Hansen truly knows what he is doing. Despite the deep, rich texture, the beautiful fruit, the balanced toast with a hint of spice - there is a simplicity to this wine. I had to take another sip to make sure I tasted it correctly. I am actually not sure simplicity is the right word, because there is all the complexity in structure and flavor that should be there in a Cab, but it just all comes together in a way that really speaks to this winemakers talent and appreciation for the winemaking process.

I could easily see this $24 bottle of wine stand up next to wines twice the price. Check out Dane Cellars website to purchase this, and Bart Hansen's other wines.

Rating: A

(These wines were generously provided by Dane Cellars as tasting samples.)


  1. These wines sound lovely! Can't wait to try them.

  2. Taylor K I look forward to you trying the wines also.