Mirassou California Wines
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Mirassou California Wines Tasting Notes

David Mirassou is a sixth generation winemaker. His nineteenth century ancestors (from the La Rochelle area in western France) are said to have kept their vine cuttings alive on the ship from France by sticking them into potatoes to provide essential water. The California result today is 700,000 cases of Mirassou wine annually, putting the label among the top ten American premium brands. I had occasion recently to taste four $12 wines from Mirassou's recent output.

The 2006 Mirassou Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from both the Central and North Coasts and hence is a California appellation. The wine has fragrant black fruit, with warm spice (nutmeg and clove) on the nose. Sweet oak leads on the palate with shades of vanilla, forest floor and baking spice, spreading out into blackcurrant and blackberry. Neither overly acidic nor particularly tannic, this Cabernet (tempered by Merlot) finishes with a nice chocolaty touch of the oak.

The 2006 Mirassou Merlot is also California appellation, with contributions from both Sonoma and Central Coast. The Merlot is filled out with some Zinfandel and Syrah. This wine is dark in color, with sweet oak, vanilla, and black cherry on the nose and black cherry, cedar and black raspberry on the palate. The Merlot is a bit more forward in the acidity department than the Cabernet, but its tannins are decidedly friendly, though this is otherwise a full bodied wine. Here is mouth-filling oomph, with toast and spice and a fruity finish that adds a sophisticated touch of dried fruit.

The 2007 Mirassou California Riesling has the excellent balance of acid and sweetness which is the first thing I look for in a well-made Riesling. Green apple, apricot, peaches and even a touch of mango tickle the nose; the palate veers more to the citrus side with a deep lime and somewhat tickly lemon, and the wine, thought it has its sweet moments, finishes nicely dry. A small touch of Viognier (less than 2%) adds that certain elegance to this well made effort.

The 2007 Mirassou California Pinot Grigio is exceptionally crisp, mainstream dry, and is helped along with a small amount of Sauvignon Blanc. The mélange works brilliantly. Both nose and palate bring citrus, peach, and white flowers, while in the mouth the wine adds an earthy stoniness that gives it surprising depth. The finish is predictably crisp, if rather short.


Verdict: A Fine Lineup
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The Mirassou family has seen more than a century of California winemaking.

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award

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