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  • DANCIN days are here again

  • It's all about the pinot noir and the chardonnay at DANCIN Vineyard.
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  • It's all about the pinot noir and the chardonnay at DANCIN Vineyard.
    It's also about owner Dan Marca's passion for growing fine grapes and making great wine.
    Dan and Cindy Marca purchased their 10-acre vineyard site off South Stage Road in 2007. To decide what varietals would do best, they consulted with experienced local vineyard manager Randy Gold of Pacific Crest Vineyard Services, with climatologist and geologist Greg Jones of Southern Oregon University, with Southern Oregon wine grape pioneer Porter Lombard, and with Glenn McGourty, Viticulture & Plant Science Advisor with the University of California's Viticulture Program in Mendocino County.
    The experts' consensus was that this was a site for pinot noir.
    Marca planted seven clones of pinot noir grapes in three microvineyards. With a northeast exposure and at altitudes of between 1,710 and 1,905 feet, each vineyard has its own distinct microclimate terroir.
    DANCIN's first harvest was in 2010, and the Adagio Southern Oregon Estate Pinot Noir, a wine blended from all seven clones from each of the microvineyards, was released in 2012. Only 25 cases were made, and the wine sold out in two weekends.
    The 2011 harvest Adagio, released in 2013, produced 125 cases and immediately sold out to DANCIN's wine club.
    The 2012 Adagio was bottled in January 2014. It took a silver medal at the Finger Lakes Wine Competition after 11 weeks in the bottle. The wine was released in April, and there were 140 cases.
    In addition to wines from their estate-grown pinot noir, DANCIN makes wine from other pinot noir grapes sourced from Willamette Valley growers in McMinnville, Dundee and Newberg.
    "I source these other pinot noir grapes from other Oregon areas because I want to show off the differences in the fruit," says Marca. "I offer seven different blends of pinot noir grapes and several different chardonnay blends made with four clones of chardonnay grapes sourced from our vineyard and from grapes from other local vineyards. With the amount of fruit we have and the amount of wine we produce, we are able to lay down our wines for as long as possible and release them when they are ready."
    Brian Denner will join DANCIN as winemaker as of Aug. 15. Denner has made wine professionally for 17 years. He made wine in Chile and California, including at his family's winery in Paso Robles, and has made more than a dozen wines scoring 90-plus from the Wine Spectator. He moved to the Rogue Valley in 2010 and worked with DANCIN on its first vintage. Most recently, Denner was winemaker at Agate Ridge Vineyard in Sams Valley.
    "DANCIN is a microwinery with handcrafted wines," says Marca. "Our estate fruit is all hand-harvested and field sorted. When the grapes arrive at the winery, they are de-stemmed and sorted again before being pressed. We do 'limited input' winemaking, but with a level of control over every facet of what we do. We make sure it is done right."
    Marca is conducting an experiment with blends from three lots of pinot noir from the 2013 harvest involving the types of barrels for aging and the effects of the length of barrel aging versus bottle aging on the wines.
    "I plan to bottle one lot at 11 months in the barrel, the second lot at 14 months in the barrel, the third lot at 16 months in the barrel," says Dan. "The program at DANCIN is that our pinot noir is barrel aged in 40 percent new oak and 60 percent neutral oak. I want to play with that formula and compare the results."
    DANCIN is also producing a pinot noir port and an estate-grown syrah. "I want to balance the elegance of pinot noir with a big syrah," Marca says.
    Marca is building a state-of-the-art winemaking facility on property above DANCIN's graceful, Tuscan-style tasting room. The winery will be completed in time for the 2014 harvest and will be able to produce up to 2,500 cases of estate and custom-crush wines.
    Toberta Kent is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach her at rbkent@mind.net.
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