November 28, 2014
 

MAYACAMAS VINEYARDS

Mount Veeder, Napa

 

Considered among the best in California.

Iconic, age-worthy mountain wines.

 

2 vintages of Cabernet and Chardonnay

 

The past and the future of Mayacamas

At 2000-feet elevation atop Mt. Veeder, at the end of a steep gravel road, you'll find a small stone winery. This unsuspecting, enchanted property is where some of the best wines ever made in California are born. Mayacamas has operated as a winery since 1889, with a hiatus during the years of Prohibition. The original owner sold to the Taylors in the early 40s and Bob Travers purchased the winery from them in 1968 with his wife Elinor. Bob had apprenticed under Joe Heitz (Heitz Cellars) and had a background in engineering from Stanford University. With this, he set out as the new owner and head winemaker of Mayacamas Vineyards, where he spent the next 4 decades crafting legendary, uncompromising wines. 

Mayacamas is named after the mountain range of the same name, which divides the Sonoma and Napa Valleys. Of more than 400 acres at the estate, only 52 are planted. Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvingon Blanc make up the bulk of the plantings on the steep slopes that overlook the valley. The vines are dry-farmed, which keeps the yields low, providing small and concentrated berries at harvest. The exquisite juice that gets pressed off these grapes goes largely untouched in the cellar. The original stone building houses the winery equipment, which hasn't been updated since Travers purchased the winery in 1968. The wines are unfined, unfiltered and are aged in decades-old, large neutral oak barrels. Quite uncommonly for California, Travers has always released his Cabernets 5 years after the vintage. The wine spends 3 of these years in wood and another 2 in bottle. Upon release, it is utterly harmonious. Bold tannins provided by the mountain fruit lends these wines almost indefinite age-ability, upward of at least 20 years. 

This classic style perfected by Bob Travers has become the responsibility of the winery's new owners to maintain. In 2013, investor Charles Banks, formerly of Screaming Eagle, purchased Mayacamas. The deal closed after years of deliberation and has prompted several questions from loyal drinkers of Mayacamas wines. Will Mayacamas become the opulent wine that is Screaming Eagle? Banks assures us that no — he has every intention of keeping with the classic style that he himself loves. Husband and wife team Andy Erickson and Annie Favia (also formerly of Screaming Eagle) will manage the vineyards and winery. They've been instructed to forget what they've learned elsewhere, and focus on making wines that reflect this unique terroir. Necessary investment will go into the vineyards (some vines have been damaged or killed by Phylloxera) and the winery, to render production more precise. The 40-plus years of Bob Travers' craftsmanship together with Charles Banks' expertise and capital, should allow the legacy to live on for decades.

We're very excited to see where Mayacamas goes from here. In the meantime, we're offering 2 separate vintages of both the Cabernet and the Chardonnay.

Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignon is tradtional, savoury, intensely complex, and with the tannic structure to age for decades. The cooler climate on Mount Veeder keeps the wine fresh and fragrant, with bold acidity. 

Mayacamas Chardonnay has razor-edge precision. It was been likened to Montrachet in its profoundness. The wine is concentrated, textured and will continue to develop for 5-10 years. It's aged for a year in large neutral oak barrels, without malolactic fermentation. This is not typical California Chardonnay. 

 
 

Highly collectable wines crafted by the legendary Bob Travers

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
Retail: $142.95 / bottle (12 btls/cs)

Fresh and vibrant in its youth, Mayacamas Cabernet ages effortlessly in the cellar. The 2009 vintage is no exception – the effusive nose is packed with aromas of black cherry, wild strawberry, sage, licorice, fig and red rose, while the bright acidity and firm but elegant tannins suggest much life ahead. Full of spirit and energy, 2009 is a classic year for Mayacamas.

2012 Chardonnay
Retail: $78.95 / bottle (12 btls/cs)

With malolactic fermentation inhibited, and élevage taking place in neutral oak barrels, the clear, focused flavors of the Chardonnay grape are allowed to shine through. The 2012 vintage is a vibrant and pure example of the style, filled with aromas of white peach, lilac, orange blossom and almond oil. On the palette, chalky minerality is balanced by luscious kiwi, lime zest and honeydew. So many years of drinkability ahead.

Library vintages also available...

2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
Retail: $142.95 / bottle (12 btls/cs)


2010 Chardonnay
Retail: $81.95 / bottle (12 btls/cs)

 

-

Really, you can't do better than Mayacamas Vineyards for California wine profoundness...the source of some of Napa Valley's most significant wines, both red and white...Mayacamas Vineyards makes some of California's greatest Cabernets, period...original, dramatically fine Chardonnay like almost no other in California — or anywhere else for that matter...it's one of America's greatest Chardonnays, bar none...Mayacamas Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc's high-elevation, low-yield stoniness and diamond-sharp delineation is virtually unrivalled in California.
Matt Kramer, Wine Spectator