Marita’s Vineyard: Because I’m Worth It!

Tom Davis taught advanced reporting in my journalism program at Marshall University. He also threw great holiday parties.

Prior to his teaching gig, he worked at a number of newspapers including the Detroit Free Press. It was pretty clear he taught because he loved teaching, not because he needed the money. What I liked most about the guy, besides his parties, was that he knew what he was talking about because he’d done it all before.  The other professors talked about working unpaid internships, to get the experience. But Professor Davis had a different take. “Never work for free,” he’d say. “If you don’t think you’re worth the money, do you really think some one else will?”

Then there is the cosmetics company that suggests women use their more expensive line of do-it-yourself hair coloring. A beautiful woman with long shiny hair smiles into the camera, “Preference, by L’ Oréal,” she says, “Because I’m worth it!

But for some reason Americans, especially women, are taught they’re not really worth it. We, as a nation, spend millions of dollars in counseling so a therapist can help convince us that we are. But there is something about buying expensive things for ourselves we have a problem with. While it is perfectly acceptable to buy a pricier bottle of wine as a gift for a future father-in-law or to impress the recipient with our good taste and generosity, when it comes to us? “Well,” we say, “that’s a bit more than I can afford to spend on myself.”

Well, I say, enough of this nonsense!

Marita’s Vineyard – Pride of a Mexican/American Family

Bulmaro Montes knows quality comes through hard work and exacting standards. The now president of Marita’s Vineyard left Oaxaca, Mexico at the age of 16, traveling to California to pursue The American Dream. Working alongside his father Manuel Montes, Sr. and brother Manuel Montes, this teenager with just a high school education and barely able to speak English labored seven days a week in the California vineyards. Through hard work and dedication he was promoted to Vineyard Manager of Joseph Phelps Vineyards in 1973. Though in those early days, Robert M. Parker, Jr. criticized many California wines for their high alcohol and overpowering oak, in his tenth issue of The Wine Advocate (April 1980), he named the 1975 Joseph Phelps Eisele Vineyard Cabernet, one of the greatest wines he had ever tasted.*

Bulmaro was later promoted to Vice President of Operations for Joseph Phelps Vineyards. Passion for the vineyards and his willingness to continue growing has made him one of the most respected Vineyard Managers in the Napa Valley. After he retired from Joseph Phelps Vineyards in 2003, Bulmaro found, as most do, that retirement from wine was simply not in his blood.

MARITA’S VINEYARD is a family-owned vineyard, located at the heart of Napa Valley, California. Working alongside Bulmaro is his brother Manuel, who worked alongside him at Phelps.

For 20 years he worked closely with Elwood Mee, a local legend and grapegrower who had achieved a good deal of notoriety as a water witcher. Manuel learned the remarkable craft of water witching, or dowsing (ability to find well water and streams).

In 1982 Manuel joined Bulmaro and began working at Joseph Phelps Vineyard as a vineyard manager. He repeatedly dowsed for water for JPV with an astounding success rate and became an expert in the planting and pruning processes.

Named for Bulmaro’s younger daughter, and inspiration, Mara, Marita’s Vineyard creates bold fruitful wine, with an elegant structure and spice, making it the pride of the Montes family.

SOMA 2005 Limited Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley)

When you first pull the cork out of the 2005 SOMA from Marita’s Vineyard, the aroma of blackberry preserves fills the room. Once the dark, garnet-colored wine is in the glass, big dark fruit greets the nose. Very jammy on the palate, with balanced tannins and flavors of chocolate, leather and cedar, there is not a touch of green pepper flavors to be found. Once it opens up, you’ll notice more cedar and spice.

Says the winemaker, “the warm summer of 2005 produced outstanding ripeness yet delicate fruitiness in this wine.” Alcohol by volume is 14%. Retail price $86.

Pairing: This one is delicate enough to drink alone, but favors beef tenderloin or filet mignon.

2005 Marita’s Vineyard Select Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley)

This is an inky dark purple wine, impenetrable to light. On the nose there is tart raspberry, black cherry, plum and blackberry jam with notes of black pepper. Hints of a sensual smokeyness invoke the remains of a once-roaring fire and a night of unbridled passion.

Once across your lips, the wine fills your mouth with ripe jammy raspberry, blackberry, currant and cola balanced with notes of cedar, anise, black pepper and cocoa. With a full-bodied mouthfeel and big bold tannins, you relish a long mocha and spice finish. This is a big, big wine and at least an hour decanting is recommended.

Pairing: For me, I’d prefer a juicy Porterhouse and thought it a bit too big for our grilled tenderloin pairing. But for Joe, it didn’t overwhelm the tenderloin at all.

There is not one single note of green in this superlative Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced from vineyards in Napa Valley’s Coombsville and fermented for 18-20 months in French oak.

After tasting, we did a little research. Robert M. Parker, Jr. gives it a 90, and Wine Enthusiast a 95:

It’s the structure, and not just the ripe flavors, that’s so impeccable, giving the wine its backbone and strength. Drink now, with decanting, and through 2015 at least. – S.H. (2010-12-19)

Alcohol by volume 14%. Retail price: $150.

Because I’m Worth It

Several wine makers have told us to expect green pepper in any Cabernet Sauvignon. This “herbaceousness” is caused by pyrazines, which are more prevalent in under-ripened grapes. While we don’t mind a little green pepper with the lower-priced mass-produced Napa Valley Cabs, we find it a bit out-of-place in the higher-end Cabs. Marita’s Vineyard doesn’t disappoint. With their many years in grape-growing, the Montes family knows the best wine is made by letting the grapes ripen to their fullest flavor.

$150 may seem like a big price for a wine if you’ve never tasted it. With just 225 cases produced, it is not really over-priced. We’ve tasted a number of the upper-end Napa Valley cult wines. While some of them are very good, some are simply sitting back on their reputations. Marita’s Vineyard wines are equal or superior to many of the wines that we tasted in their price point.

And while we received the first SOMA and 2005 Marita’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon as samples, subsequent bottles we purchased for ourselves. We recommend that you do too.

No one seems to have a problem stopping by the local Starbucks every day to spend $5.00 (or more) for a cup of coffee. Even though with a good coffee maker and a pound of good beans, you could have a cup of coffee for about one-tenth of the price. Might I suggest skipping the cult-coffee for a month, and purchasing a bottle of Marita’s Vineyard Select Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Or skip a couple of weeks and get a bottle of SOMA instead.

Just ask yourself, “Am I Worth it?”

*from The Emperor of Wine: The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr., and the Reign of American Taste (P.S.), by Elin McCoy

Posted in Best of AWB, Featured, Pairings, Posts, Rant, Reviews

Amy Corron Power View posts by Amy Corron Power

A licensed attorney, Amy is a wine-lover, foodie, photographer, political junkie and award-winning author who writes about Wine, Food, Beer & Spirits. As Managing Editor & Tasting Director for Another Wine Blog, she travels all over the world's wine regions to share her experiences with her readers and legions of twitter, Instagram and Facebook friends and fans. Amy holds certifications through the International Sommelier Guild, and is also certified, with honors, as a California Wine Appellation Specialist (CWAS). She is a member of the Guild of Sommeliers, The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas and regularly attends Houston Sommelier Association events. Amy is also a contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books, and was most recently published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Gratitude.
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