Husband dared wife and Sonoma County winery was born.
Viticulturist and winegrowing consultant Lise Asimont describes Dot Wine as “a labor of love” born of a challenge from her husband, Shawn Phillips, to create the “perfect Pinot Noir.” The couple produces several wines from the grape, along with Sauvignon Blanc, two rosés (of Pinot), an upcoming Zinfandel, and a few others.
Because of her farming background – at Francis Ford Coppola, Geyser Peak, Cakebread, and elsewhere – Asimont performs much of her winemaking in the vineyard. She leans toward minimal intervention in the cellar, though she’s enough of a stickler that a colleague admitted he thought she was “a whack job” for her fermentation strategy – until the first (2016) vintage of the flagship Lolita Vineyard Pinot Noir, turned out so well.
“I make wine like a middle-aged Asian woman,” quips Asimont, the daughter of a Filipino mother (her dad’s family was from Alsace). “Everything prepped, very clean, not winging it too much.”
Asked how she got into winemaking, Asimont replies that as the child of an Asian parent, she was under pressure to become a doctor. She did well in science but wasn’t keen to go into medicine. Asimont eventually found her way to the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology, where one of her early mentors, Dr. Andrew Walker, “changed my life,” she says, by suggesting viticulture as a focus.
“Our wines are vineyard driven,” says Asimont, “the best example we can put forward of what we tasted and smelled in the vineyard that year. We love the vineyards we’ve chosen and want people to be able to taste them in the glass.” Dot Wine tasting experiences with a culinary component, she says, are “heavily curated” to be “representative of my culture,” containing “a nod to Asian or Hawaiian cuisine” or at least an ethnic dish. The goal with these pairings, she adds, is to “break the tie of Eurocentric foods” so guests will understand, for instance, “that Lolita is lovely with carnitas; you don’t have to have lamb chops.”
2018 Dot Wine Lolita Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Dot Wine’s flagship Pinot Noir (from Dijon clone 777) hails from a vineyard owned by Lee Martinelli Jr. and his wife, Pam, in the Green Valley of Russian River Valley AVA. Perhaps owing to its grapes’ southern exposure, this Pinot Noir, which isn’t as earthy and somber as some from this subappellation, captivates with its floral nose, notes of dark-red fruit, and mild opulence on the finish. Asimont recalls 2018 as a year whose weather made it easy for winemakers to achieve the desired balance of structure and acidity. It shows in this delicious offering.
Update: In late-2021, Dot released the 2019 Lolita, a frisky-out-of-the-gate wine (Asimont describes it with more colorful language) that’s got a little more of everything in the 2018 and in all the right proportions.
Asimont and Phillips pour their wines Thursday–Sunday by appointment at the Bacchus Landing boutique producers collective in Healdsburg. Walk-ins are welcome as space permits. Dot is also among the featured wineries at Locals Tasting Room in Geyserville.
Why go: family-run boutique winery; excellent Pinot Noir; Bacchus Landing tasting space.
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This review was excerpted from It’s a Families Affair at Bacchus Landing on this website.