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October 10, 2014 Wine Pick of the Week

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Dry Creek Vnyd 2011 The Mariner Picmonkey

The Mariner 2011


Dry Creek Vineyard

Appellation: Dry Creek Valley

Alcohol: 13.5%

Suggested Retail: $45


“The Mariner is a red wine bearing what's called a proprietary name. It is a blend of grape varieties native to Bordeaux, as grown in the Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley. Though it's mostly Cabernet Sauvignon (51%), it can't be labeled as such, because it contains less than the 75% minimum. The composition also includes Merlot (30%), Cabernet Franc (10%), Petit Verdot (5%) and Malbec (4%).

“We tasted this wine analytically, then enjoyed half of it with a dinner and revisited it for re-tasting three days later. Initially we found aromas of cherries and berries backed by toasty and nutmeg nuances, followed by dark and layered cherry, blueberry and plum flavors. There was a smoothness in the mouth and a finish that our notes called 'slippery,' a good thing in our estimation. Overall impression the first night was that The Mariner was absolutely pleasurable from first taste, yet showing complexity that we thought would show through the meal. We were right. Experience on day one was entirely positive.

“When re-tasting we finally looked at the tasting notes supplied by the winery, Dry Creek Vineyard. These suggested that after the wine had been open a while it would show “hints of tarragon, nutmeg black tea and blueberry.” Nutmeg? Blueberry? O.K., I had already found those on my own. Black tea? Maybe, but not prominent to my nostrils. Tarragon was another matter. This herb is unusual among the standard wine descriptors used in this business. But it was there—absolutely! We've followed The Mariner though earlier vintages and wish more California winemakers would—or could—make Cabernet-based wines in this style. It packs plenty of flavor, layers of complexity and, at 13.5 alcohol, proves less can be more. Highly recommended.”

Food Affinity: “Given that tarragon character, we're got to go for a grilled rib eye with sauce Bernaise.”

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