Friday, April 2, 2021

Byrd Vineyard 2012 Red Wine, Mendocino

Byrd 2012 Mendocino Red BlendThis Byrd flies high with taste and quality.

Mountaintop Wines

When someone has an amazing revelation, it’s called a mountaintop experience. The saying is probably based on the Biblical story of Moses, who came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments and was literally all aglow.

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We like mountaintop experiences ourselves, either by visiting mountains, like Pike’s Peak or the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica. We also particularly savor wines made with mountain grapes.

The high altitude provides plenty of sun during the day and nice cooling at night. The hilly terrain means great drainage and with less nutrients in the soil, the vines are stressed. The cooler temperatures allow the grapes to develop acidity and nuances before they ripen. The grape yield is lower, but the flavors are concentrated and intense.

Soaring High

We had the chance to enjoy a superb wine from Byrd Vineyard during our roadtrip to Ohio last week. Ten years ago Bruce Byrd began exploring the peaks and volcanic soils of the Mayacamas Range in California. He found his spot far above the fog line, at 2,400 feet. There the marine sediments, shale, sandstone, chert, and gravel all contribute to the unique mountain terrain of Byrd Vineyard’s estate.

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This is the far northern end of the Mayacamas Range, in Mendocino County, where there is nothing to intrude between the mountains and the Pacific coast. These are the highest-elevation vineyards in California.

After receiving our first vaccine shot, it was time to make an important family visit. While in Ohio, we gathered at a friend’s house to uncork some remarkable wine, including the 2012 Red Blend from Byrd.

The special occasion required some truly exquisite wine. The Byrd Bordeaux-style blend filled the bill perfectly.

The 2012 Red Wine is a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, and 6% Cabernet Franc. This wine earned a silver medal at the prestigious San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and it’s easy to see why the judges were captivated. At nine years since vintage, the wine has evolved into an elegant, rounded sip with tannins integrated seamlessly.

While this bottle could certainly accompany a nicely-marbled steak, we enjoyed a casual meal of Mediterranean food and when the Byrd arrived, we had dark chocolate and sea salt covered pretzels. A delightful pairing if ever I’ve had one.

This is a full-bodied wine. On the palate there is a superb balance with pure blueberry, cocoa, and cigar box notes. A delightful acidity keeps the flavors precise with no flabby fruit. Tastes of sour cherry, plum and accents of vanilla guide you to a lingering finish which demands another glass.

We were not familiar with Byrd Vineyard before we popped open this bottle, but this boutique winery is creating some gorgeous wines. Their success is right up there with the elevation of their vineyards. The SRP for the 2012 Red Wine is $65. It’s drinking perfectly right now, so you may want to grab two or three bottles. Enjoy one now and lay down the others.

Full disclosure: This wine was received as a marketing sample.

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