Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tasting Report: Mira's New Napa Valley Wines

Mira is a relatively new Napa Valley endeavor from Gustavo Gonzalez, the former Robert Mondavi Winery winemaker. Gonzalez also worked at Tenuta dell’Ornellaia in Bolgheri, Italy, where he produced a Wine Spectator 100-pointer, the 2001 Masseto. (For more in-depth information on Gonzales, click here to read an interview from my friend David White at

This week I had the chance to taste through Mira’s new portfolio. To be honest, the whites were quite a let-down. Two reds packed lightweight punch, while the cab deserves some attention.

Here’s my tasting report…

2010 Mira Sauvignon Blanc - California, Napa, Carneros ($22)
Smells decent, like Sweet Tart candies, grapefruit and a kick of mixed herbs. On the palate, this wine is quite strange. It’s got an oily body, not enough acid, and thin green fruit flavors. The thickness is abrasive, yet it lacks depth in the flavor department, except for this spicy green apple flavor. It’s not faulted, just not very good. 95% fermented and aged in stainless steel tank, 5% in new French oak barrels for 9 months. (70

2010 Mira Chardonnay - California, Napa, Carneros ($28)
This chardonnay has unique and distinct aromas of sage and fennel on top of the green pear. On the palate this has medium acid with sharp green pear flavors and a flavor that reminds me of the bitter part of a green apple core. Alcohol lingers on the finish. Disappointing. 100% stainless steel barrel aged on the lees for 12 months. No malolactic fermentation, but perhaps it could’ve used some? (77

2010 Mira Winery Pinot Noir Stanly Ranch - California, Napa, Carneros ($42)
Aromas of raspberry jam and toasted marshmallow. On the palate, this pinot noir is low on the tannins, with medium acid. The bright raspberry fruit is dashed by some serious oak. The wine seems too thin to handle the oak, leaving me with a rich, toasted chestnut flavor on the finish. Overall, this is a perfectly fine pinot noir but I wanted a little more depth and concentration on the palate. This wine is aged for 12 months in 100% French oak barrels, 75% new. I’m no winemaker, but I imagine they could’ve dialed down the new oak to 25% and gotten a more balanced wine. (81

2009 Mira Syrah Hyde Vineyard - California, Napa, Carneros ($48)
Dark purple colored in the glass. After three somewhat disappointing wines, smelling this wine got me excited. Tons of black plums, ink and charcoal (somewhat reminiscent of a Barossa shiraz in this context), but then comes a sweet, honey-baked ham aroma that I really enjoy. A bite of alcohol lingering on the nose is my only concern. On the palate, this wine is really extracted with a lot of plum reduction sauce, vanilla bean and green peppercorns. Very compact and inky, with a bit of heat. I think this needs time to settle down and unwind, but I like its different range of flavors. If tasted blind, I definitely would’ve guessed Australia. Aged 18 months in 100% French oak barrels, 5% new. (86

2008 Mira Cabernet Sauvignon - California, Napa, Carneros ($48)
Gushing sweet cassis on the nose, along with milk chocolate-covered blackberries and a hint of green pepper. Very pure and silky on the palate, with a really nice balance between tannins and fruit. Toasty oak accents the cassis and blackberry flavors. Kicks of tobacco, peanut shell and green pepper linger onto the finish. Hedonistic and rich, but it shows a bit more secondary flavors than I was expecting. Very suave. By far the best wine in the flight. (89

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