Our Wine Wednesdays, include one *free sample from each of our hand selected fine wine features (up to four wines). This week we feature one of our all time favorite Estates, Marietta. Run by three brothers, Mareitta Cellars consistently produces some of the finest wines we have tasted from Sonoma. Not only are these wines crazy good, but are always well priced.
I grew up watching my dad do magic. Never with cards or sleight of hand, instead, he would transform cardboard wine boxes into suits of armor for my brothers and I, or make up stories on the spot about rusted out cars in the river and turn them into broken down steeds of long gone errant knights. All of us kids would listen to him, fascinated, he had a way of casually turning the everyday, the routine, into something special. Meals were simple but sourced from the garden and eaten outside at sunset. There were multiple hour sessions of hide and seek in the winery that involved crazy ingenuity: building a wine pallet around an empty space to lie hidden or getting wrapped up in a sleeping bag before hiding in a freezer with the door propped open…
That is how I learned to make wine. Watching my dad cook ribs that were sweet but spicy and blending together a fruity Zinfandel and a hefty Petite Sirah so that it would go better with dinner. Everything was transformed to become something better. Creativity and possibility reigned supreme.
I started here at Marietta a week after graduating from UC Davis with in depth scientific and technical training. Plonked down in the middle of the cellar, I was uncertain and tentative but my dad gave me lots of room and I repurposed machinery, built out the winery, and showed up day after day just trying to make a contribution by following my gut.
Ten years later, dad is retired and I learned along the way how to make wine by magic. The science is still important: there are times when yeast needs to be fed, oxygen’s interaction with the wine is still crucial, temperature ranges will make or break a fermentation… but, the real magic happens in quiet moments. After a ridiculously long day of harvesting when everyone is gone, walking the cellar between tanks full of bubbling, fermenting wine with the overhead lights off, doing one last temperature check on each tank with the palm of the hand. Thinking about the tons of grape skins, the trainloads of sugar, the massive accumulation of man-hours represented in each tank… turning dark and rich… the possibility in that cellar is palpable.
We are still performing magic here at Marietta. This second-generation winery continues to transform hard work, a blessed climate, special pieces of land, and belief into beautiful liquid expressions of family and place.
-Scot Bilbro, Owner/Winemaker
Elouan Pinot Noir (not Marietta)
The Opulence of California. The Elegance of Oregon. Elouan is the result of California winemaker, Joseph Wagner (Caymus), heading North to Oregon, one of the world’s renowned Pinot Noir regions and producing Pinot Noir with depth of flavor, vibrancy and suppleness. The delicate nature of Oregon Pinot Noir requires a soft hand in the cellar. The clusters were 100% destemmed with a few select lots having small amounts of stems added back to the fermenter for phenolic augmentation. The must underwent an extended cold soak, ranging from five days to two weeks, and during fermentation both punch-down and pump-over techniques were utilized. We monitor the separate lots and tailor the extraction methods to the needs of each one. We find this style of reactive winemaking is the best way to coax the optimal terroir qualities from Pinot Noir, truly exemplifying the prime coastal vineyards from where it is sourced. The wine was aged for ten months in a mix of new and seasoned French oak and racked upon completion of malolactic fermentation.
This intense, powerful Syrah-based wine is grown mostly on our McDowell Valley property which has a long history of championing Rhone varietals. Co-fermented with Viognier, the Syrah expresses violet, tar, and rich earth. Petite Sirah from Alexander Valley brings chewy bitter chocolate, while Grenache grown at 1400 feet elevation in the Yorkville highlands keeps the wine bright and juicy. Full-bodied and fleshy, this wine is dark and brooding yet silky and smooth. 90 points Vinous.
Marietta’s husband, Armé, lived, worked and fished throughout Alexander Valley, the Yorkville Highlands and the McDowell Valley. From our vineyards in those same valleys, we combine the best of what these sites offer to create a unique Cabernet Sauvignon. This approachable but incredibly serious wine is representative of excellent site selection possible only through covering miles of ground and constant thought and exploration. Like Armé, this wine is refined with a slightly traditional style, it is also robust, rich and fruit forward: evocative of modern Californian winemaking. 92 points Vinous.
Game Trail Cab
This south-facing vineyard is perched at 1400 feet of elevation overlooking the Yorkville Highlands. Coastal influence, warm days and rocky hillsides combine to create a Cabernet Sauvignon with extraordinary intensity and clarity. Wild boar, deer and mountain lion create game trails that encircle the vineyard and guide us into the woods while hunting wild Porcini and Chanterelle mushrooms. Much like the air out at the Yorkville ranch, this wine is fresh and bright. With more acidity and focus on red fruit flavors than most Cabernet, this wine is sizable and will age for decades, but has a gorgeous, perfumed elegance that is accessible now. An addition to the range, the Game Trail is 100% Cabernet from the Bilbro family’s ranch in the Yorkville Highlands. Dark red stone fruit, rose petal, mint, floral notes and spice are beautifully delineated. Intensely aromatic and pungent, but with no green edges, the 2014 offers tons of personality and character. Beams of mountain tannin add energy throughout. I would give the 2014 at least a year or two in bottle, as the tannins are imposing at this stage. 93 points
***tasting free with purchase of $10 or more per guest***