Saturday, June 12, 2010

Wines from Marco DiGiulio

In 1995 Marco DiGiulio was the first winemaker at Lokoya, a Jess Jackson winery in Napa Valley, which wines since then has turned into the most profound cabernets in California. The intention was to make great wines, and upon release the price tags were quite hefty, and Mark once told me he said to Jess: “Wow, 75 dollars for a bottle, I wouldn’t pay that, it’s too much”. Jess replied: “Marco, do you really believe that the workers at Rolls Royce actually buy those cars”.
I really like this exchange of thoughts!
Anyway, Marco made the great wines at Lokoya until 1999, and then the equal talented Chris Carpenter took over the role as winemaker, and did it with excellence. Marco took off to set up his own winery, a custom crush winery south of Napa where he makes many labels of fine wines, among them the rare but fine Bounty Hunter, Black Coyote and some even smaller labels. He also makes his own wines since 2001, and the inspiration for them is taken from Lokoya. These wines are really worth looking for – they are truly great, quite close to Lokoya which isn’t that strange since grapes are sourced from almost the same vineyards, and made in the way. This means 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon from dry farmed and low yielding vineyards, they are carefully destemmed and gently pressed into small stainless steel fermenters with a total maceration of about 30-35 days. The wines are then transferred into brand new French oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and maturation during 20-24 months. They are bottled without being fined or filtered.
Oh yes, there is one difference … the price tags! Lokoya now sells for $220-225 plus tax, the wines of Marco DiGiulio for $80-90 plus tax.

2004 Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon Mark K Vineyard / 94 p
For this wine, grapes are sourced from the Reverie Vineyard next to Diamond Creek and Von Strasser up on Diamond Mountain just south of Calistoga in Napa Valley. I decanted this wine two hours prior to pouring it, and that was needed. It’s a very youthful, dark and almost opaque wine with a dense, ripe and just delicious dark berry fruit driven nose seasoned with oak and with some meaty notes that are so complex, in a way I’d like to describe as postmodern Napa Valley. I just love it! The dark ripe fruit is also present on the palate, which of course is marked by tannins and mineral notes which hold the rich fruit back a bit. It’s very intense and even though I think it’s a bit closed (compared to what will come out of it in the future), is slightly sweet and lush, and the aftertaste lingers for a minute. Drinking it today, it would need a good decanting.
Drink it 2010-2020.

2004 Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon Progeny Vineyard / 95-96 p
The most impressive wine from Lokoya is the one from their Mount Veeder vineyard. At Marco DiGiulio it’s the same – but grapes are sourced from the neighboring Progeny Vineyard belonging to Betty O’Shaughnessy. As expected from Mount Veeder, this wine is dense, very intense and full bodied, and since young very firm. It took a bit longer in the decanter for this wine to open up, but when it did, it really did. There are of course lots of similarities, but here you find even more of everything, and it also shows notes of walnuts, black olives and ink, which I find very complex, and the mineral notes are also a bit more forward. I recommend a few more years in the bottle, and then decanting it at least 30 minutes before pouring it. A steak and a side order with a creamy texture will be just perfect!
Drink it 2012-2024

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