The wine industry is a trendy industry. Sometimes the trend is created by a well known wine pundit like Robert Parker. Other times, the consumer determines the trend. If you were drinking age in the 80s and 90s, you’ll remember when White Zinfandel was all the rage.
Speaking of trends, we are currently seeing a push in the industry to get back to more classic style wines. I personally define “classic style wines” as wines which have a great balance between alcohol, acid, tannins, use of new oak, mouthfeel and flavor concentration. For reference, an extreme example of a modern style wine would be a typical Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon. Paso Cabernet can be big, high alcohol (over 15% ABV), viscous and overly ripe. When I think of classic wines, I think of Napa Cabernet from the 1970s and 1980s. Some other example of wines currently being made in a more classic style are those from the right bank of Bordeaux, Grand Cru Burgundy and Brunello di Montalcino. Nevertheless, some traditionally classic producers in these areas are trending towards a riper style to suit the American palate.
Enter Tom Mackey Cellars! Tom Mackey is a legendary winemaker from Sonoma, California who was dubbed “The Master of Merlot” by the Wine Spectator in 2005. Tom was the director of wine making for Saint Francis Winery in Sonoma for 30 years beginning in 1983. Tom’s accolades include 1999 Quarterly Review of Wines - Winemaker of the Year, 2001 London International Wine Fair - International Red Winemaker of the Year, 2005 NY Institute of Technology - Winemaker of the Year. Tom currently makes single varietal Bordeaux wines and Red Blends using Zinfandel, although I’d argue that his specialty is Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. While it is easy to produce big, concentrated, fruit forward ripe wines in the wonderful luminescence of the California sun, Tom’s wines express a flavor character reminiscent of when wild red berries just become ripe on the vine. A just ripe red berry has sufficient flavor concentration but still has a hint of tartness, thus striking an excellent balance and tantalizing your palate. Your mouth begins to water and you instantly crave more. If this flavor balance is achieved in wine grapes, you can maintain brilliant acid while having sufficient concentration with an elegant texture. In the cellar, Tom is able to finesse otherwise aggressive tannins into a silky mouthfeel with his magical use of oak barrels. The tannins become well integrated after about thirty minutes of oxygen in a decanter. In his Cabernet Sauvignon the alcohol comes in at 14.8% ABV, but you’d never know due to the elegant balance with acid, tannin and flavor concentration.
2016 Tom Mackey Cellars - Cabernet Sauvignon
Alcohol = 14.8%
Acid = Medium
Tannin = Medium +
Finish = Long
Balance = Very Balanced
Primary = Cherry, Black Currant, Mulberry, Ripe Raspberry, Raspberry Sorbet, Red Plum, Red Apple Skin, Purple Tulip
Secondary = Vanilla Bean, Cacao, Casis, Black Peppercorn, Dried Herbs, Paprika
Tertiary = Cured Venison, Leather