Of all the extraordinary wines emanating from California in recent years, one of the most remarkable achievements must be the two cuvees of Cabernet Sauvignon made by Naoka and Gustav Dalla Valle, with the capable assistance of consulting winemaker, Heidi Barrett. Dalla Valle's Cabernet Sauvignon is a pure, unbridled expression of this varietal at its most powerful and concentrated. The proprietary red wine, named after the owners' daughter, Maya, is usually a blend of equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc (the greatest Cabernet Franc I have tasted in the New World). These are wines of immense stature and richness. It seems nearly impossible that one could pack so much intensity and flavor into a wine without either the wine or the tannin coming across as heavy-handed. Since 1990, all of the Maya offerings have possessed extremely well-integrated tannin and acidity. The 1993 Cabernet Sauvignon is more evolved than the 1992 or 1991 at a similar stage. It boasts a huge, chocolatey, grilled meat, herb, spice, vanilla, and cassis-scented nose, followed by outstanding depth, considerable muscle and richness, sweet tannin, and a deep, full-bodied, powerful finish. Approachable now, it is capable of lasting for 20+ years. The 1994 Cabernet Sauvignon reveals the vintage's gorgeously pure, phenomenally rich, highly extracted cassis character, as well as its sweet, well-integrated tannin. This awesome Cabernet is undoubtedly superior to several of the earlier Maya cuvees. It is a profound Cabernet Sauvignon for drinking between 2000-2020.

The 1993 and 1994 Mayas may merit perfect scores! Both wines are still in barrel, and, of course, many things can happen. But based on past experience with Maya, little should change, other than the wine gaining complexity and becoming even more impressive after bottling. The 1993 Maya is equal to the 1992. The color is an opaque purple, and the nose offers up that exhilarating fragrance of cassis, licorice, minerals, spice, and a touch of smoke and chocolate. Huge, massive, and concentrated -- almost beyond belief, this extraordinarily rich wine should drink well for 25-30 years. As shocking as it may sound, the 1994 Maya is the greatest young example of this cuvee I have tasted. Its black/purple color, fabulously sweet, fragrant aroma, and massive yet impeccably well-balanced flavors unfold on the palate to reveal multiple layers of richness that come close to being magical. The wine's texture resembles a graceful skyscraper. When you ask the Dalla Valles how they do it, it's the same old answer -- "it's the vineyard." The yields are not the lowest, and there does not appear to be any magical formula in the winery, but for whatever reason, these wines turn out to be the stuff of legends. Life is too short not to drink a few bottles of Dalla Valle!

- Robert Parker / The Wine Advocate -

Dalla Valle Vineyards / 7776 Silverado Trail / Napa, CA  94558 / 707-944-2676


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