Saturday, January 8, 2011

2006 Lucia Abreu Vineyard from Aubert Wines

Mark Aubert was born in Napa Valley, so working with wine came natural for him. After working in the cellars at Rutherford Hill Vineyards and Monticello Cellars in the 1980s, he met Helen Turley and her husband John Wetlaufer in 1990, the same year they started their own label Marcassin. At the time Helen was the winemaker at Peter Michael Winery in Knights Valley, and she offered Mark Aubert to work with her as assistant winemaker there. Of course he took the job. Later on, when Helen Turley left, Mark Aubert became the head winemaker. He stayed at Peter Michael Winery until 2000, when he made his first wines (of Chardonnay) under his own label Aubert Wines. Mark continued to make wines for other wineries over a number of years, among them Colgin Cellars up on Pritchard Hill where he was the winemaker from 1999 (again, he took over after Helen Turley) until 2007.

His own wines were always made at the custom crush facility at Laird Family Vineyards in Oak Knoll. But in 2010, Teresa and Mark Aubert bought a small winery next to Silverado Trail in Calistoga, and production has now moved there.
“It’s great, for eleven years we have dreamed of having a winery of our own, and to give a home for our wines”, Mark says.
The total production is now around 2 500 cases per year, of which the Chardonnay Ritchie’s Vineyard counts for approximately a third.

2006 Lucia Abreu Vineyard Howell Mountain Red Wine / 90-92 p
This second vintage of this wine is a blend of approximately 50 percent Merlot, 30 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 20 percent Cabernet Franc, all grapes from the Lucia Abreu Vineyard up in Howell Mountain (adjacent to the famous La Jota Ranch) which is owned and planted by the well known viticulturist David Abreu.
After almost 40 days of maceration, the wine is transferred into new French oak barrels from coopers Taransaud and Sylvain, to undergo malolactic fermentation and 18 months of ageing. Mark Aubert is known for making big and ripe wines, and there’s no change from that philosophy here – the wine boasts of super ripe, intense, sweet and lush fruit and an alcohol level of 15.8 percent. Is it too much? Well, many wine drinkers would say so, and I may agree with them, at least when the alcohol overwelms the fruit and burns. However, this wine it’s quite delicious, at least if serving it to a rich dish. At this stage, it's a bit closed, much due to the high proportion of firm tannins. There’s also a slight greenish bitterness (it taste like it comes from the oak), it doesn’t show too much of a mid palate and the oak is a bit to upfront. Since it was the first time I tasted this wine, and I had high hopes for it – one should have, it’s a David Abreu and Mark Aubert wines – I was at first a bit disappointed. I wanted it to give me more pleasure.
So, I left it in the decanter for almost four hours, and by then it had turned into something much more elegant and complex, but still without being so great I wished for. The final verdict at this young stage is that it is a good to very good wine, but taking into consideration where it’s from, who grows the grapes and who makes the wine, I ask for a little bit more than this. However, I look forward to taste future vintages, since I suspect things will be better over time.
Drink it 2012-2018.

1 comment:

  1. This wine was a real disappointment. Quite expensive, and I wish I had not purchased 3 bottles. The first (and only) bottle I have opened had way too much alcohol on the nose and on the palate. Caustic and severe. Elements of fruit, alcohol, and oak, all over the top. It seems like your review above wanted to say those things, but you reluctant to say it because you might offend.