Dascomb Cellars: 40th Birthday Road Trip

Deciding you’re done tasting is something of a challenge in Solvang. There’s always one more tasting room enticing you to taste a little more, one more place that comes highly recommended. It can be hard to resist. If tasting in Solvang teaches you anything, it’s that the folks here make incredible wine and it would be a shame to miss any of it.

That’s how we wound up ending our day at Dascomb Cellars. We had pretty much decided we were done, but we had received a strong recommendation while we were at Lucas and Lewellen. Dascomb was mere steps away, so we decided to tough it out (sigh) and pay them a visit.

We’re glad we did. Our pourer (whose name I shamefully failed to put in my notes) was charming and shared her deep knowledge of the area, its history as a winemaking region and the history of the Dascomb family.

The Dascomb family planted the area in 1974. The winemaker grew up on the vineyard, and crafting these wines has been a lifelong passion.

The valleys in the larger growing region are unusual in that they are traverse – that is, they run east-west instead of north-south. This channels cooler ocean air inland and results in a wide range of microclimates suitable for many different types of grapes.

Dascomb’s tasting room had a classic feel, with a dark wood bar placed at a slight angle along one side, with a couple of additional seating clusters where visitors can enjoy their tastings while giving their feet a break.

The Wines

2009 Pinot Gris: This mellow white had hints of saffron, citrus and a hint of oak. I also got a mild but definite hit of bleu cheese.

2008 Roussanne: The aroma of this wine was intriguing and complex. Nikki was reminded of incense. I found the scent to be bold, with toasty sugar elements and a hint of lipstick aroma. Nikki noted a kola flavor and I sensed an herbal overlay. I generally like Roussanne but usually find it not-terribly-complex. This one demonstrated that Roussanne can be more.

2005 Pinot Noir: I was delighted to get a strong scent of toasted marshmallow hovering over the fruit here. The flavor shows fruit in a lighter-bodied wine. Nice, gentle tannins finish the flavor.

2007 Sangiovese: Nikki’s notes say “Hint of port. Smells like the blood in The Vampire Lestat.” I have no idea what she means – I hope the blood in that novel smells like delicious wine. Says Nikki: If you’ve ever read the way Anne Rice describes blood from Louis or Lestat’s perspective in her Vampire Chronicles books, you know exactly what I mean. If not, smelling this Sangiovese to find out is probably faster than reading the books. There was an energetic ensemble of flavors evident here – blackberries and cream, a hint of tobacco and multiple fruits including cherries. It’s bright and acidic so it would be a great accompaniment to Italian food.

2003 Cabernet Sauvignon: Tasting this immediately put me in mind of chocolate covered cherries. Nikki was reminded of port. It’s bright with good acidity and light tannins.

2005 Cabernet Port: 100% cab port, fortified with triple-distilled wine brandy. Nikki’s super-sniffer got caramel, plum and toffee while I sensed chocolate covered raspberries in the aroma and flavor. After enjoying an actual chocolate covered raspberry offered by our pourer, the chocolate notes in the port emerged to the point that I could think of nothing else but a rich, dark, fresh chocolate souffle with raspberry sauce.

It’s becoming a common refrain: This is an area that deserves a whole weekend from tasters. Solvang is a lovely town to stroll around and spend time in, the wine tasting is fabulous and abundant and the people are friendly. We’ll be back.