The Next Mayacamas
The Next Mayacamas?
by Garasite Jon Rimmerman
Our path may wander but the acorn rarely falls very far from the tree.
That can be a good thing...or not so much.
If we fail to venture outside of our comfort zone, stability can occur but what about spontaneity and surprise? What about the very nature of discovery that allows us to grow in a non-physical but highly emotional and spiritual way?
Let's toss the acorn into the bushes for now.
It is no secret that I am one of the toughest and most ardent critics of our domestic wine trade and I have been for 15-20 years. Generalizations can be a gross misnomer but I do feel drips and drivels of my loud-penned criticism have been taken to heart by the next in line - those willing to put their time, energy and $ on the line to create an individuality and sense of purpose and place in "The Next Great Wine Region".
What if that region was already one of the world's most revered?
After so many years of trying to figure it out, I dare say California winemaking is exciting once again (I could utter the same thing about Oregon and Washington State but the two NW stalwarts are at very different places in their raising. One is still trying to figure things out and the other appears to have run past the first stage of maturity and entered a new period of redefinition that has gained wide acceptance. I will leave the discussion of paradise won/lost in the Pacific NW for another editorial but there is a great deal to discuss...
Today, I toss the acorn over the head of an analogy and image of something sacred in California winemaking history - a reference I've used for years when I want you to know exactly what I mean.
The reference is Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignon and the meaning is tradition and the unwavering pursuit of Napa driven terroir.
Yes, terroir does exist in the New World and it has for millions of years - it's the harvesting and harnessing of the terroir that has often come into question by this scribe.
Not only is today's subject "like Mayacamas", it is Mayacamas...a hyper-varietal, long and savory Cabernet Sauvignon from the Mayacamas Mountains (with the namesake winery's historical reference style as a building block of inspiration):
Viluko Cabernet Sauvignon.
Is this really the next in line? The next property of greatness? We shall see but they have a twist of fate to create their own identity away from the Napa Valley stigma (or beneficial association). Today's winery, Viluko, is on the Sonoma side of things - a side that continues to achieve a perception of the wild west when it is only a mile outside the bounds of an ability to label wine as "Napa Valley".
The 2011 Viluko Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County is a truthful bottle of Cabernet purity. A new light of hope with its moment right here, right now (thanks Mike Edwards). This 100% organic Cabernet Sauvignon tastes like the mountain soil it is grown in - the fruit is real - it is vibrant - it is rich and satisfying but never cloying or for fashion. It is a classic bolt of authenticity that (I believe) most of you desire more often than not. Yes, there is a place in our experience for something like Colgin but the overwhelming and prevailing wind of this Email List leads me to a search for the unadulterated in wine and the 2011 Viluko gives us just that.
(If you can divert your attention for a few moments and digest another opinion, please read the following from Geo T. I last shared a bottle with him 15+ years ago at Russell and Victoria's apartment in Minneapolis, when Bevan Cellars was still a far-off dream. After reading Geo's extremely accurate assessment of "I can't quite put my finger on why I like this producer, but I do, even though I never engage in the consumption of domestic Cabernet", I'll be waiting below with the remainder of today's missive: http://blogs.gangofpour.com/three-from-viluko-vineyards )
So, is Viluko the be-all-end-all?
That is an unknown.
...but it is of further interest (great interest and discovery) - that is a given.
If so, the 2011 must be an afterthought with 2010 and 2012 there for the taking? Correct?
Tell that to the 1976 Mayacamas - a wine that slumped in the shadow of the 1974 for years but now ranks as one of the greatest moments in their history (but only from PERFECTLY stored bottles - too many poorly treated examples of the 1976 are in cellars). When push comes to shove, I will say this - it's about what's in the bottle that counts (not the vintage). As far as Viluko is concerned, a year such as 2009 or 2011 more accurately reflects the ethos of what they are trying to accomplish - a transparency (with ample but balanced and still hefty weight) that's there in spades but it never becomes overwhelmed by a desire to be anything other than the truth that it believes so strongly in.
All together now...
Let's toss the acorn as far as we can...so far, that it lands a world away from Napa of the late 1990's and 2000's...but so much closer to the heart of the 1970's, a new generation...and their audience.