Up today are two offerings from Martin & Weyrich of Paso Robles California. Admittedly, I am a huge fan of the Paso Robles region in general. I find that by and large there are many noteworthy wines of distinction coming out of this area. Not only do many of them stand out stylistically, they are also often available at bargain prices compared to wines of similar quality from say Napa or Sonoma.
Having started in 1981 Martin & Weyrich is amongst the earliest wineries from the area. Their portfolio reads like the United Nations of Wine. Italian and Spanish varietals are a large part of what they do right alongside Bordeaux offerings such as Cabernet Sauvignon. There are precious few U.S. Wineries that even make Tempranillo, let alone a dry Rosé of Tempranillo. That's but one example of their diversity.
The first of their two Cabernet's that I looked at is called "Etrusco." 15% Sangiovese was blended in and it spent 18 months in 50% new French oak. 3,100 cases of this wine were produced and it's retail price is $22. I found this wine to need a solid hour in the decanter to really show all it's true colors. Initially it had some tartness but that dissipated. The nose is full of black raspberry and earthy mushroom aromas. The first sip reveals toasted cherry flavors that follow through to the mid-palate along with substantial pepper and overall spice elements. The finish features some white pepper notes and clings to the back of the throat for a noticeable amount of time. "Etrusco" is well balanced with terrific acidity. It's clear that the Sangiovese blended in really helps balance this wine and make it very approachable. This wine works very well with pasta and red sauce as well as fairly strong cheeses.
For $22 this wine is a certainly worth it in my opinion. What I most enjoyed about this wine is it's combination of bright and dark fruit flavors which makes it very easy to drink. That said, this wine has quite a bit going including firm tannins, suggesting a respectable shelf life if stored properly.
The second Martin & Weyrich Cabernet offering is also from 2003. This one is however 100% varietal. Additionally it spent two full years in 80% new French oak. Fruit was sourced exclusively at the Weyrich Family Ranch and production was limited to 500 cases. Retail price is $35.
Giving this wine time to breathe is even more essential than with the other selection. The nose offers up chocolate dipped raspberries. The first sip reveals significant tannins, earthiness and kirsch liquor. The mid-palate is big, round and mouth-filling with a ton more cherry fruit and mushroom laced earthiness. The finish is long and lingering with more berry fruit and substantial spice flavors that go on and on. While this wine is quite enjoyable now, especially after sufficient time breathing, it will improve with age, perhaps dramatically. I would anticipate the already present earthiness to become a greater focus as the fruit and tannins soften. The winery expects this wine to age ten years and that would not surprise me. I think that if you tuck a couple away now you'll be pretty happy in 5 or so years when you pull one out for an occasion. At the moment this wine would be a great match for a steak or other equally hearty foods.
At $35 this wine is actually a bargain. No it's probably not a wine most can have with leftovers on Wednesday night very often. But it is a tremendously good wine with excellent aging potential. Cabernet Sauvignon of equal quality from Napa would easily cost twice what this wine does. What I liked most about this wine was it's range of flavors and complexity for the price.
Both Cabernets from Martin & Weyrich impressed me. They are distinct wines and each offers value in it's price category.
Cabernet Sauvignon Week continues with a wine from Joel Gott coming up next.
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