Mayacama, Cabernet Sauvignon, 1979, Red wine from USA
The first thing my friend Grant said was that he doesn’t really like Cabernet Sauvignon and, in particular, the ones from California. The second thing he did was to put a bottle of a Cabernet Sauvignon of Mayacamas on the table. When I saw the vintage, I piped down for a moment: 1979. He had opened the bottle some hours before, so it had enough time to breathe.
I have never had such an old American wine. I also think that Californian Cabernet Sauvignon is vastly overestimated and certainly much too expensive. Most of the time, these wines are too heavy, too fruity, too oaky – plump and show-off wines.
All is different here! Isn’t the name beautiful? Mayacamas is the name of a mountains range on the western edge of Napa Valley – you can read more about these mountains online. The winery – according to a great webpage of the winemakers – is comparatively high and almost in the middle of higher hills. All looks really very nice. Since I haven’t been there, I can’t say too much about the wine-making and would just direct you to the aforementioned webpage = https://www.mayacamas.com/
The 1979 was impressive: still young, even rather fresh and, most importantly: not heavy at all – though very rich! This was perhaps one of the most elegant American wines, unspectacular in the most positive sense, wonderfully balanced between all these tastes: mild red and blue berries, black currant, but also tobacco, even some leather – and all with mild but stimulating acidity. There were also notes of different green herbs like eucalyptus and a very attractive peppery sweetness and tannin at the end. Really, everything you would separate from a Californian wine to make it refreshing, elegant and special – is in this one.
It is amazing that this rather basic wines age so well. I cannot believe that the winemaker, in 1979, ever considered pressing a wine which would be stored for so many years. What I can say is that they produced outstanding quality: no reserve, no Grand Cru stuff! Reading the webpage carefully, you can find some references to Mayacamas’s wine-making philosophy: they are committed to holding back some percentage of their production for the future. I wonder if they still have some bottles older than 1979. And I would be really curious to know if they are the same or even higher quality.
Aside from Cabernet Sauvignon, Mayacamas also produces Merlot for red and Chardonnay for white. Classic Napa Valley types! Many concrete reasons why I should finally visit this wine area sooner rather than later.
By the way: we had steak and grilled vegetables with this wine! Indeed, if you eat something while drinking such a wine, it should complement the wine. For me, the grilled vegetables were better suited – because of their fresh crispness, and the lightly roasted notes of their grilled skins.