More random wine tasting

mayacamas1992.preview  I usually like to review or talk about wines that share a common theme.  It has been too long since I have posted anything though, so over the next few days I plan to catch up on some recent tastings.  I’ll try to share some random football thoughts as well.

Ravines 2009 Cabernet Franc Finger Lakes 12.5% alcohol

I may have tried this at the wrong time, but I can’t recommend this wine.  The primary taste I got here was acidity.  I really didn’t get the traditional Cab Franc elements.  I don’t know what happened with this wine, but it tastes like it was a cool year & the grapes didn’t get ripe enough to counteract the acid.  The 12.5% alcohol doesn’t prove that, but is consistent with that idea.

I Googled it to check it out. Here’s a link to what I found…

 “Later blooming varieties like riesling and cabernet franc were largely hit by rain and some cooler temperatures,” explains Anthony Road Wine Company winemaker Johannes Reinhardt. He’s not talking about veraison; he’s talking about spring bloom, when turbulent weather first arrived. “In the worst case, it can mean lighter and smaller clusters.”

Why does that matter three months later? Because some of the berries will be small enough that they won’t fully ripen. The photograph to the right shows cabernet franc at Anthony Road. Some of the berries are much smaller and won’t reach full ripeness. Other clusters show gaps in the grapes with strong variations in berry size. That’s not a disaster if the winery knows how to handle it. There are two ways to do it, according to Reinhardt.

“You can hand harvest and hand sort, removing the problems,” he says. “But most operations don’t have the resources for that, so it comes down to the crusher. If they crush everything as normal it could mean some highly acidic berries get crushed too — and too much acidity in the wines. But if they adjust the crusher to only break the berries of a certain size, problems can be avoided. It’s delicate, but if it’s done right then the problems of June can be corrected.”

So I’m guessing that’s what happened here.  It is a good example of how weather shapes the flavor of wine.  Sometimes people focus so much on the art of the wine maker that they don’t pay enough attention to how important the grape grower is to the finished wine.  Farming techniques & weather are crucial to the final taste of the wine.

I would like to check out this wine from a different vintage to see what they can do in a less challenging year.

Mayacamas 1992 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Delicious.  This was frankly better than I expected.  Fruity, red fruits, tannins are light, but still there.  This is a bright & fresh example of classic 1990’s Napa Cabernet.    There is an earthiness that would make you think of St. Emillion if it weren’t for the fresh fruit.  I am impressed with this wine.  Dark red with fresh red edges.  It doesn’t look like a wine from 1992.    This scored only 87 points in Wine Spectator when it came out, which is good, but not great.  It tastes a lot better than that now.

Here’s a review from a big name reviewer, who went a bit more over the top than I did…

It restores the will to live”…”Elegance, finesse, allied to concentration. Balanced and sleek, slightly tarry fruit, moreish and good acidity. Lovely. The balance is like being released from prison: a sense of lightness.”

—Margaret Rand
The World of Fine Wine (London)
on the Mayacamas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignons of 1992 and 1999, respectively


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