This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.
On my first trip to Sonoma, my younger sister and I stopped into Murphy-Goode’s tasting room in Healdsburg. We were in the area for my brother’s wedding, and before driving up to the Mendocino coast, we visited a few tasting rooms and soaked up the aura of Sonoma goodness. We loved M-G’s Chardonnay aged in Minnesota oak and their juicy, fruit-forward Zinfandels. All wine tourists have similar stories about their delicious discoveries and rich memories, which linger long after the take-home bottles have been cellared and emptied. This is part of the reason I always look fondly on Murphy-Goode wines with their purple labels and playful proprietary names.
But Murphy-Goode makes some impressive Cabernet Sauvignons as well, sourcing grapes from vineyards in Alexander and Knights Valleys. I recently tasted through four 2012 Cabernets from Murphy-Goode, all of which are 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, no Merlot or Cab Franc chasers.
For me, the Terre a Lago was just a step above the rest in complexity and depth, but all the wines share a focus on rich currant and plum fruit along with notes of sweet cola and eucalyptus. They’re structured solidly, and all of them were more expressive on day two. Despite their youthful deliciousness, I think they could use a few years in the cellar.
These four bottles were received as trade samples and tasted single-blind.
2012 Murphy-Goode Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley - California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
On the nose: deep plums, black cherries, cola, mocha, loam, cedar, some spicy tobacco comes out. Full, solid tannic grip but not too strong, with medium-low acid. Black currants, full of plums and blackberries. A hint of smoke to the cedar and roasted coffee elements, but good amount of cola and eucalyptus. Plenty of structure with a firm finish. Aged 16 months in 35% new French and American oak barrels. Great introduction to the M-G Cabernet portfolio for a very reasonable price. (88 points)
2012 Murphy-Goode Cabernet Sauvignon Single Deck - California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
Aromas of tart red berries, bright and vibrant plums, some lighter notes of rose petals, cola and sweet spices. Full bodied with firm tannins, a well-structured wine with medium acid. Flavors of black cherry, fleshy plums and black currants mix with notes of cola, sweet mint and black cherry ice cream. I also get hints of coffee, sweet cedar and cigar box. There’s also an attractive and deep sense of loam and smashed rock. The cedar and mocha flavors are integrated very well. Long, pretty finish with rose petals. Aged 17 months in 30% new French and American oak. (90 points)
2012 Murphy-Goode Cabernet Sauvignon Poker Knight - California, Sonoma County, Knights Valley
Aromas of tart black cherries and plums, the fruit is a bit darker and shows a deeper sense of floral tones. Lovely scents of earth, cola and eucalyptus. Full-bodied, firm tannins but they’re fined around the edges, medium acid, combining for a bold but velvety feel. Black cherries, dark plums, gushing blackberries, the fruit is ripe and pure. Notes of cola, eucalyptus, sweet coffee, I also get loam and hints of bay leaf. Bold structure, yet stays fresh and clean. Long finish with graphite, loam and toasted oak. Will show even more after a few years in the cellar. Aged 17 months in 44% new French oak. (91 points)
2012 Murphy-Goode Cabernet Sauvignon Terra a Lago - California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
Gorgeous nose of black cherries, currants, mixed plums, along with complex notes of sweet cola, loamy, violets, potting soil and eucalyptus. A beautiful texture on the palate, structured but the tannins have a lovely silky and creamy presence on the palate. Black cherry fruit, currants, plums, mix them with some red berry accents. I love the cola and eucalyptus notes, and the blend of cedar, cigar box and vibrant floral tones. I also get some sweet clove and baking spices. For me, this is the silkiest of the four, the most elegant, yet it has plenty of structure and concentration for aging for quite a while. Very pretty stuff with lots more to show. Aged 17 months in 45% new French and American oak. (91+ points)