Since 1983 Cinnabar has been making a range of wines from both estate fruit grown at the vineyard in Saratoga and fruit purchased from Centarl Coast and beyond. Following founder Tom Mudd's death in 2007 the winery and vineyards were sold to Mount Eden, but winemaker George Troquato continues to produce great wines under agreements at a number of locations. The winery maintains a tasting room in the village of Saratoga.
The entry level wines carry a distinctive yellow label and are made primarily with fruit from Central Coast. I recently received two samples from the range for review.
2008 Mercury Rising, California
Mercury Rising is a blend of Bordeaux varieties sourced from several different regions, including Paso Robles, El Dorado and Lodi. As a result it carries the California designation.
There's a lovely nose of chocolate and blueberry, which follows through on the palate. The oak is prominent but not overpowering. It's full bodied and mouth coating, with a medium finish. This may be the best vintage of Mercury Rising that I can remember. The retail price is $21, but I've seen it as low as $15 and can highly recommended it at that price. 89
2009 Chardonnay, Monterey County
Chardonnay is a versatile grape whose wines range from being flinty and acidic to flabby, oaky and buttery. Sadly this one strays too far in the latter category for my tastes. There are some nice tropical fruit notes, but there's too much sweetness and not enough acidity; it's bland and simple. And while there's a ready market for wines like that it's already packed with examples at half the price. 81
The real gems of the Cinnabar range are the Santa Cruz Mountains wines, as well as some limited release wines made in small quantities and only available directly from the winery.
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains
Opens up with an earthy, smoky nose betraying a little heat and barnyard notes. On the palate there's firm acidity, with notes of mint, eucalyptus and brambles. As it opens up the fruit becomes more defined, with blackcurrant and plum adding to the mix, and the earthy notes recede. Very good indeed. 92
2007 Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains
Now this is more like what I want from a Chardonnay. The nose shows white flowers, wet stone, brine and lime. Flavours of lemon and lime, with salty notes. The oak isn't prominent at all. Acidity is a bit on the light side. 89
2008 Syrah, Sextant Vineyard, Paso Robles
Nose shows notes of roast beef, dried fruit and menthol.
Flavours of redcurrant and blueberry with mushroom and allspice notes. The finish is oaky and tannic. Softened up with air, but really needs some cellar time to show well. 89+
2008 Sorcerer's Stone
Last year cinnabar released a non vintage wine entitled "Lot 310 - Philosopher's Stone". This was a blend of 2/3 Zinfandel and 1/3 Teroldego, and was a fascinating and delicious wine; I wish I'd bought cases of it.
The 2008 Sorcerer's Stone is the successor to that wine. It could be labelled as a Sonoma County Zinfandel since the remaining components are just 10% Petite Sirah from Clarksburg and 5% Teroldego, which I presume is also from the Mistral vineyard in the Santa Clara Valley.
The nose showed a lot; fireplace, black pepper and herbs, with black fruits and other savoury notes developing over time. On the palate there were rich yet rustic raspberry and blackberry flavours, with a long finish. The oak doesn't seem quite integrated yet, but it certainly has the stuffing to warrant cellaring for a year or so. 91+