Wine Spectator: “His extensive resume of vineyard work includes some of Napa’s best-known producers, including Joseph Phelps, Robert Mondavi, Opus One, and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.” New York Times: “Mr. Bazán recalled arriving in the “Valle de Napa” in 1973 from Oaxaca as an 18-year-old. He worked his way up — from picker, to tractor driver, to foreman, to vineyard manager who also produces his own boutique cabernet sauvignon.” Smithsonian – featured along with Rolando Herrera (Mi Sueño), Ulises Valdez, Robledo and Ceja.
Winery: While at Mondavi, he was ultimately in charge of such iconic vineyards as Opus One and To Kalon where he was part of the very first Napa experiments in tight meter-by-meter spacing – now the standard for ultra-premium cab-growing in Napa. He started his own Vineyard Management Company in 1998, with clients including Rudd, Hartwell, Turnbull and Kenzo, and works with growers up Valley as well as Coombsville and Soda Canyon. His wife Gloria gave up her career as a Pediatric Dentist to move to Napa, where she handles all business aspects of the winery, while raising their young children and studying viticulture.
Winemaking: With the goal of expressing the clonal and vineyard character, grapes are hand-picked at cool 4 a.m. temperatures, rigorously sorted, native-yeast-fermented, vinified in separate lots, judiciously blended and the Cabernet is barrel-aged in 50% new French medium-toasted oak. New winemaker David DeSante has created the 2012 and 2013 vintages. With a background in viticulture and enology with decades of experience in the Napa Valley, his multi-faceted skills combine harmoniously with Mario’s vineyard expertise.
Vineyards: The Estate Vineyard was acquired in 2005, located at the base of Atlas Peak near HDV winery on Monticello Road. This vineyard is substantially cooler than nearly all other Napa Valley Cabernet vineyards. To counter the late-ripening tendencies of this cool site, the vineyard was planted on a rootstock that ripens the fruit earlier, resulting in earlier-ripening than would be expected from a lower temperature location. With cooling breezes and morning fog, the thin soil layer and tilted slope limits vine size and Cabernet Sauvignon yields to 3 tons/acre, and allows for full ripeness at a lower brix and resulting alcohol level. It is planted to close 1 x 2 meter spacing, sustainably farmed with cover crops, occasional tilled, with select drip irrigation, varying types of canopy management, and leaf-pulling and shoot positioning that optimizes ripening while minimizing heat vulnerability. Wines of lower alcohol are achieved from this cooler site, without any winemaking watering back.
“Rama“ Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Napa Valley New Vintage
Winemaker Notes: “The deep garnet hue and buoyant fruit aromas that drift across the rim of your glass promise fresh fruit with layers of complexity. The 2013 RAMA is a classic style claret with a modern twist – soft tannins to match a core of ripe cherry, cocoa and cassis flavors.” This new second Mario Bazán label is made by selecting younger -drinking barrels of Mario Bazán estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon (Hartwell Clone), creating an elegant, lean, focused and high-toned style of full-flavored Cabernet. After a splash decant, the wine offers even more savory flavors, a floral element, and more mouth-filling texture that follows for minutes in the finish. Meaning “branch,” the Spanish name “Rama” references both Mario’s vineyard farming background and the generational extension of his family, and branches of both vines and of family trees. Quite a lot of Cabernet Sauvignon for the money!