2010 Cabernet Sauvignon by Mayacamas, Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley

2010 Cabernet Sauvignon by Mayacamas, Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley, CA

Deep dark ruby color. Nose is shy. Greets with dark plum, old sawdust, and a touch of beeswax. Swirling vigorously adds a slight rocky essence, hints of licorice, shortbread and flutter of minty, herbal freshness toward the back.

Up front, thin, slightly under-ripe dark plum. This is quickly followed by restrained currant, black licorice and a noticeable old, woody leather. Acidity is fairly unobtrusive and could be easily overlooked but for the precise amount of tension it lends to this understated body. Crisp, clean and fully integrated tannins roll off the palate in short order, transitioning to black currants and subtle bitter cola towards the back. Transition to finish is seamless leaving the palate slightly parched with a gentle spice tingle. The cola and currants develop a subtle sweet dimension as the palate resets. As it opens up, a firm tannic grip develops over the entire palate as some of tannins caramelize to add a slight sweet aftertaste. This wine is very much reminiscent of a classic old world style Bordeaux. I can’t help but wonder how amazing a Meritage/Bordeaux blend from Mayacamas would be.

This is a mature, dry, old world look at Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa, California and the World at large. I highly recommend it for the advanced palate. If you want to get an appreciation for the kind of wines that put Napa on the world stage decades ago, Mayacamas is a great place to start. Their program has gone largely unchanged over several generations of custodians. Their work provides a great reference point and study for the enlightened and curious palate.

I had the distinct pleasure of visiting the estate for a private tasting last fall and the experience exceeded all expectations. For many years I have come assume there were little left in the Napa region in the form of true, single estate, artisan winemakers with small batch production wines. It’s an expensive proposition these days, especially for a highly sought-after region as Napa. This is why I was even more excited to realize that this small team of custodians (as they refer to themselves) are passionately preserving and continuing the legacy of this storied region with absolutely no room for compromise. This alone is reason enough to explore their wines.

No big, spicy, jammy, fruit bombs here. No overbearing manipulation, additives, or blending down [with Lodi grapes]. It’s simply wine from a vineyard in Napa, made the same way it always has been for generations, clean crisp, true… and there is a lot to said about that these days. It’s so refreshing for a WineSnob!

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2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (Handal-Denier Vineyard) by Wellington

Tonight’s occasion: 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (Handal-Denier Vineyard) by Wellington, Sonoma, California.

This vintage fades into the memories of a few. Part of his final act. A winemaker’s joke upon us all who never rose to the occasion as often as we now wish we did. Every bottle bittersweet. A good wine, like life is not forever…

Dark inky color. Nose is restrained, with lots of big bold dry dark plum, an equally intense dry (sawdust) woody leather takes on a cedarwood essence. Dried herbs linger in the back. As it opens up, an unmistakable black licorice emerges.

Body has a smooth balanced attack that quickly grows intense with massive dry tannins providing a very solid monolithic structure. Cedarwood and a touch of oak move forward to and dress the set. Plum turns to black berries which conspire with a touch of minerality to create black currant and hints of cola.

Body morphs into massive dry finish as tannins, black berries, currant and cola turn to a dark dusty cocoa, leaving lips parched shut.

I believe Pete Wellington’s last vintage was 2013. His legacy lives on at Wellington Cellars

2010 Carignan (Cordillera) by Miguel Torres

Tonight’s occasion: 2010 Carignan (Cordillera) by Miguel Torres, Valle Del Maule, Chile.

Dark inky opaque color. Massive, nose out of the bottle. Big, bold, brash with loads of dry plum, black cherries wrapped in heat. A hint of leather and caramel lingers in the back.

Body is surprisingly restrained in stark contrast to the nose. It is moderately acidic throughout, accompanied by subtle buttery tannins. Tart plum carries through into the finish characterized by a persistent, acidic spice that bites, simultaneously drying and torching the palate down to the chest. After about an hour it becomes an even more subtle experience overall.

This is a big wine by all accounts even for a Carignan. It is a well made wine. It has had sufficient time to develop and it shows quite nicely right now. It presents a tremendous value at $23.99 and is proof positive that not all good wine is expensive. It could easily lay down another 10 years. I will surely be watching this winemaker and the region in general. We’ll done!

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