The Captain Wore A Mask
When it was our turn to host the local wine group’s tasting we decided the theme would be red blends. A fun twist to the tastings is that these are done blind. We usually feature four different wines.
I selected Tannat blend from Uruguay, a Super Tuscan and a Washington State Merlot blend. For the fourth spot, I rotated three different wines. One was a Bordeaux and the other two were from California. Each wine was snuggled inside a cloth sack with a letter: W, I, N or E.
This was the perfect opportunity to share one of our favorite wines – The Mariner from Dry Creek Vineyard in the Dry Creek Valley region of Sonoma.
Navigating Great Flavor
The Mariner is a proprietary blend that Dry Creek Vineyard debuted in 2004. Like a mariner keeping the ship off the dangerous rocks during a billowing storm, so a winemaker has to successfully navigate through the ups and downs of a vintage. In the case of 2014, Sonoma was experiencing the third year of the California drought. Although the grapes ripened at sugar levels lower than normal, the fruit tasted beautiful. In December, well after harvest, the winery had 20 inches of rain in less than two weeks – a welcome relief.
The 2014 blend for The Mariner is 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Petit Verdot, 9% Merlot, 8% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc. That’s the highest percentage of Cab I’ve tasted in a Mariner.
The poor blend from Uruguay and even the Super Tuscan were completely blown out of the water, so to speak, by The Mariner. The Mariner gave a good broadside of complex spice flavors woven with dark, rich fruit.
The tannins of the 2014 The Mariner give enjoyable structure and the promise of an even more beautiful wine in five to eight years. The Mariner is aged in French and Hungarian oak, 40% of it new, for 19 months.
With an SRP of $50, we consider The Mariner to be a standout value among quality California reds. We suggest laying a few bottles down to age. If you don’t have the patience, that’s fine because it drinks beautifully right now. We suggest decanting for 45 minutes or so.
Tasting blind or with eyes wide open, our tasting party guests are ready to join The Mariner’s crew. One bottle and we think you will be too.
Full disclosure: This wine was received as a marketing sample.