Wine Spectator 96
WS TOP 100 2019 Rank 2
Youthfully compact, with tightly wound black currant, bitter plum and dark blueberry notes, this needs time to meld with the charcoal, bay leaf and tar streaks, but the mouthwatering cut on the finish suggests that won't be a problem. Offers a long echo of juniper at the end. Best from 2023 through 2040. JM"
Vinous Media 97
Another stellar wine from Mayacamas, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon continues to be quite reticent, which is probably a very good thing for its long-term prospects. Even so, the 2015 is dense, powerful and super-concentrated, with a level of finesse in its tannins that separates it from so many wines in this challenging vintage. Time in the glass brings out graphite, menthol, licorice, sage and spice notes that add a sense of gravitas. I would prefer to cellar the 2015 for at least a few years to allow some of the baby fat to melt away. I expect the 2015 will always remain an exotic, full-throttle wine relative to the norm here. I can't wait to see how it ages. Antonio Galloni"
MayacamasView all from Mayacamas
At the crest of Mount Veeder, a sinuous appellation that clings to the Mayacamas Mountains' southern reaches, rests Mayacamas Vineyards – as it has for over a century. Here, at 2,400 feet, above the din of Napa's valley floor, fifty acres of vines quietly speak to both an unshakeable past and a fortitude for the future. Their fruit find its voice in a stone cellar built in 1889, and, when bottled, it shares with us a story of humility and commitment – unadorned, with concentration, elegance, and balance.
Initially built in 1889 by JH Fisher, a German immigrant and pickle merchant in San Francisco, the winery was largely abandoned from the time of the 1906 earthquake until 1941. Guests of the Lokoya Lodge on Mount Veeder, Jack Taylor, a chemist for Shell, and his wife, Mary, purchased the property – the winery and its 260 acres – and with their three children founded Mayacamas. They began by planting the property to Chardonnay, using budwood purchased from the Wente Livermore Valley Vineyard – just like their northerly neighbors, the McCreas of Stony Hill. Cabernet Sauvignon plantings followed, and Mayacamas was bonded (#4417) in 1947.
Next came Robert Travers, under whose stewardship Mayacamas found the voice it shares in present day. The son of a farming family, Travers wavered from a trajectory in engineering and finance, and, bolstered by his studies in wine, turned to Joe Heitz for a single harvest. After a year with Heitz, and the ongoing mentorship of André Tchelistcheff, Travers, only thirty, purchased Mayacamas from the Taylors. The estate's winemaker, Bob Sessions – who would later, to legendary acclaim, become synonymous with Hanzell – remained by Travers's side until 1971.
Since 2013, the Schottenstein family and winemaker Andy Erickson have rigorously attended to the identity of Mayacamas – not merely with the intention of preservation, but invigoration. Working with Travers in the 2012 vintage, the winemaking team learned to forgo new oak and instead implement the winery's existing old casks – anything that still held wine. Only minor changes have since been implemented, including cooling equipment to stabilize fermentations and lengthen macerations (from twelve days to perhaps twenty). Greater work stood before them in the estate's fifty planted acres. The winery called on Phil Cotturi, to replant the ailing, phylloxera-afflicted AXR-rooted vines, and to institute organic viticulture and continue dry-farming. The replanting process – only about five acres per year – promises to revive the estate's yields for the next generation