We publish a newsletter twice a year to discuss Mayacamas happenings and announce new wine releases. Below is the Springl, 2012 edition. To view our other newsletters, click here.
Vol. II No. 90Winter, 2012
"There is god in us," wrote Ovid, "he stirs and lo! We feel his fire." Cervantes, in turn, pulled out that Ovidian phrase in Don Quixote when riffing on the nature of the true poet, and he should have known. "Let me also say," Cervantes added, "art is not better than nature, but merely perfects her." That's a pretty good statement about winemaking, too: the craft of making wine cannot improve nature, it merely perfects her---or, perhaps it's the same to say, it announces her perfection. Winemaking proclaims nature's beauty, through man's conscious work to reveal it. A vineyard, or a garden, is nature, refracted through the prism of a man's vision of beauty. And recognizing beauty, as every man knows, is not quite separable from falling in love, and it is love, in turn, as everyone knows, that is God by another name.
Beauty is definitely what comes to mind when contemplating the Mayacamas 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, which is now released. This wine throws some serious lightning even at the secular palate. It comes on as a wide, deep, and rich core of blackberry and red cherry, grounded in dusty, chalky minerality, and flanked by aromas and flavors of black tea, bay leaf, mint, and spice essence, all the while illuminated by an electric charge of acidity and powered by mountain tannins that are seamlessly integrated into the whole. There's something that all came together here that is intangible but very palpable: potency allied with elegance, composed, serene, expanding. This is a wine I'm going to contemplate for years, and come back to for new lessons.
Our Library Cabernet Sauvignon is now the 1998. We always thought this would be one that would take longer than normal to come around, and sure enough, now it has evolved into an august exemplar of what our Cabernets can become with cellaring. We've kept the '98 around until we felt it was soft enough in the middle to really express its fruit fully, which is why we re-released the Library '99 first, and kept the '98 until it was 14 years old. The '98 was tighter than most for a long time, but it is now handsomely rewarding patience, and really rounding into a wine in full: complex, a cherry-cedar-and-earth mystery. Secondary characteristics and finer elements come forward out of the background as you sit with it. Anise, then pine needles, then whispers of ash. The fine tannins are still roof-of-your-mouth, while the red cherry fruits are content to nestle onto the palate without causing a ruckus. The cedar comes back again. It is middle-weight, old-school, and the acidity is vibrating at a nice clip after 14 years. The ripeness is restrained; the alcohol checks in at twelve and a half percent. It should keep up the youthful structure for another few decades at the very least. The subtlety of this wine is the real pleasure of it; it's for appreciating the primary, secondary, and tertiary characteristics layered together. It's for really settling down and taking time to relish the nuanced pleasures that good, old, evolved and cellared Cabernet can give.
The 2007 Merlot is also for sale. It is fresh and full of vigor, with blackberry and licorice on the nose and a basket of red cherries on the palate, very cleansing acidity, and a nice complement of tannins. Recently, our Merlots have started to attract more ardent devotees than ever before. The '06 seemed to win a lot of hearts, and the varietal in general might be poised, it seems, for its homecoming after a long exile. The '07 follows beautifully on the heels of the '06. Not much remains in stock.
The current release of Chardonnay is the 2009. It is a bit fleshier in the mid-palate than was the 2008, a slightly rounder, more immediately giving wine. Still completely non-malolactic, crisp, and mineral, but with a somewhat more ample bandwidth. Banana peel, lemon curd, and vanilla come to the fore on the nose. White peaches and nectarines on the palate are balanced by nice acidity.
The Library Chardonnay is the 2005. This is a classic, a shower of caramel, ginger, vanilla traces, and rich peach compote on the nose. The mouth swells with more deep peaches and fresh applesauce, within a structure of impeccable acidity and the merest fraction of French Oak. It drinks incredibly smoothly, with high-wire balance. Once again, and this always seems to happen, I'm all geeked up about our Library Chardonnayâ€¦I'm realizing that our aged Chards might be my greatest vulnerability, year in and year out, in the whole Mayacamas arsenal, at least at this stage of my life. I might need to seek professional help, lean back on a couch, and talk to someone about the '97.
A few cases of the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc remain, but not many. It has flown out of here. The nose shows bracing green apple, fresh mint, and a suggestion of frosty pine needles in snow. Putting this mineral SB in your mouth, in turn, is something like, say, licking fresh pear juice off a quartzite flagstone porch, a very clean one, provided that the pear juice in question is acidic enough to purify the whole experience. This metaphor is one to take literally only with supervision.
The Mayacamas Wine Club remains a great way to get regular shipments of our wines, without the fuss of remembering to order them. In addition to two shipments of Mayacamas wines at your doorstep every year, there is also the annual Mayacamas Wine Club Fiesta every summer, this time on August 18th here at the winery. We'll pull out some old wines with a great dinner and some live music in front of the winery. Please do call or email to sign up for the Wine Club if you're interested. Courses this year will include a charcuterie plate, a salad of local greens and chicories, heirloom tomatoes with apple cider vinaigrette and crushed hazelnuts, duck confit with parsnip puree and king trumpet mushrooms and local plums, and lamb stew, plus dessert of peach cobbler and home made ice cream, with wines to compliment each course, of course. Last year's fiesta was beautiful. My wife Dolma and I danced on the dirt road in front of the winery around dessert time. Beauty is a powerful thing. Tielhard de Chardin said, "Some day, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, tides and gravity,...we shall harness... the energies of love. Then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire." I discovered fire when I saw my wife for the first time, walking down the street in Kathmandu. Here's to that blaze.