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 – Mario Bazan featured along with Rolando Herrera, Ulises Valdez, Robledo and Ceja.
Winery and Winemaking: While at Mondavi, Mario was ultimately in charge of such iconic vineyards as Opus One and Mondavi 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. The Mario Bazan Winery was established in 2005. 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. To fully express 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.
Vineyards: The Estate Vineyard was acquired in 2005 at the base of Atlas Peak near HDV winery on Monticello Road in the uniquely cool “Vichy Springs Area” microclimate. With cooling breezes and morning fog, bud break is 3 weeks later and harvest is 6 weeks later than nearby regions. Consequently, it was planted on a rootstock that ripens the fruit earlier, resulting in earlier harvests than would be expected from this chilly location. The thin soil layer and tilted slope limits vine size and yields to 3 tons/acre, and allows for full ripeness at a lower brix and resulting alcohol level. Planted to tight 1 x 2 meter spacing. Sustainably farmed with cover crops, soil tilling, selective drip irrigation, varying types of canopy management, and leaf-pulling and shoot positioning that optimizes ripening while minimizing heat vulnerability.
Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Napa Valley New Release organically farmed
Winery Tasting Notes: “Aromas of pear, melon and bright citrus. Flavors of melon, pineapple and juicy grapefruit and balanced acidity with considerable length.” Mario Bazan organically farms this cool-climate vineyard, in which his block has tiniest yields, is earliest harvested and with super concentrated fruit. Honig, Clif Lede and Joel Gott also source from this vineyard. . Wild yeast fermented in stainless, neutral oak battonage for creamy texture. The new Loire Valley shaped bottle references the Sancerre styling. 200 cases.
Pinot Noir 2018, Gold Coast Vineyard, Sonoma Coast New Wine!
Winery Tasting Notes: “Deep raspberry color. Sweet aroma of plums, bright cherry cola, black cherry jam, pomegranate, black currant berries, with a hint of toast with a high note of black pepper. Its fruity notes are complimented by its bright acidity and fine tannins with an energetic mouthfeel.” From the Gold Coast Vineyard, managed personally by Mario Bazan and his viticultural team. 175 cases.
“Rama“ Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Napa Valley
Winemaker Notes: “Red and black fruit notes integrated with black pepper and clove. With lush blackberry, ripe cherry and red currant flavors, it has focused acidity and subtle oak notes.” Rama is the next generation label, and in Spanish means “branch” (like in a family or on a vine). Younger-drinking barrels of estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon (Hartwell/Grace Clone) are blended with Cabernet from Soda Canyon Vineyard and creatively with 5% Pinot Noir before aging 18 months in 50% new oak. 550 Cases.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Napa Valley 92 Points, Tastings.com New Vintage
92 Points, Tastings.com: “Black garnet color. Aromas of black cassis, toasted coconut, espresso beans, pepper, and coriander seed with a round, vibrant, fruity light-to-medium body and a graceful, complex, long plum tart, cola, vanilla custard, and toasty waffles finish with moderate oak flavor. A firm and table-friendly Napa cabernet with style and grace.” Made with 60% new French oak. Estate grown from the Hartwell (Grace) Clone with tight 1 x 2 meter spacing, low 3 tons/acre yields. Their unique cooler site, balances toward vibrant acidity and lively brightness. A Splash Decant will reveal more nuances in this cool-climate, drought-year, concentrated Cabernet. 350 cases.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Napa Valley Library Release
Winery Tasting Notes: “Lovely dark, sumptuous wine with classic Napa fresh cherry and cedar aromas, depth and complexity. Flavors of Damson plum, ripe cherries, blackberry and anise finish with a savory dark cocoa. This is a cellar selection that will continue to emerge in the near term. This vintage promises a profoundly satisfying experience between 2017 to 2025.” Made with 60% new French oak. Estate grown from the Hartwell (Grace) Clone in their cooler site, balancing toward brightness. 350 cases made.