Marlstone is Sonoma’s first Bordeaux-style blend. Born in the ‘70s, it continues to be one of our favorite wines year after year.
Marlstone, by Clos du Bois, is one of the reasons we love Bordeaux-style wine. We stumbled on Marlstone at a wine festival years ago. We were swimming in an endless sea of tasteless Pinot Grigio and watery reds when I got a pour of Marlstone.
My taste buds skyrocketed on the rich flavors and robust body. Soon after we split a half case of 2008 Marlstone with our friends. Years and miles passed, but one of my bottles still remained. Until last week that is. In line with the thought, "life is too short to drink bad wine," we opened the last of the 2008 Marlstone.
Clos du Bois is a premiere winery in Sonoma. They farm top vineyards in the Russian River Valley, Knights Valley and Alexander Valley. Grapes for Marlstone come from Alexander Valley, known in recent years for producing superb Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Alexander Valley is one of the warmest wine growing areas in California during the day, but a wide temperature swing cools the grapes at night. Proximity to the Russian River provides fog that blankets the vineyards in the early morning until burned off by the sun.
Marlstone Doesn’t Jump The Shark
Marlstone was Sonoma's first Bordeaux-style blend, making its debut in 1978. It is a limited production wine, and in 2008 production was 2,000 cases. The blend is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 5% Malbec and 4% Petit Verdot.
Six separate barrel lots make up the final blend of 2008 Marlstone, three of Cabernet Sauvignon and one each of Malbec, Petit Verdot and Merlot. The individual barrels were then blended and aged in 84% new French oak for 24 months.
Structure and tannins allow wine to age with grace. Without it, a wine once full of vigor can in time "jump the shark," sliding down the slippery slope to become a shadow of its former self. Marlstone '08, 10 years beyond its vintage, not only still has a great structure, it could easily age for another seven years.
In the glass, this is a muscular wine. In retrospect, this could have used an hour or so of decanting. In the glass, the wine is a deep garnet, almost inky. On the nose, there was a light aroma of spice. As we sipped the wine loosened up in the glass. We had this bottle after dinner with some Manchego cheese, which also helped soften the tannins.
On the palate there is leather and juicy dark berries. Layers of flavors become more apparent the longer you sip. The full body is supple and smooth leading to a wonderfully long finish.
When I purchased this in 2012, my cost was $32, based on a half-case split with our good friends. While the 2008 vintage is no longer available, the current 2014 vintage is available for about $60. Not only is this a superb wine, but a great value – costing much less than an equivalent blend from Napa.
When it comes to red blends, make mine Marlstone!