Hello friends. It struck me during a recent tasting through the Mark Ryan lineup that the winery has become something of a Cabernet Sauvignon expert over the past few years. Mike MacMorran is doing beautiful work with the variety across a number of different labels and price points; as far as I can tell, they’re bottling at least five separate wines with Cabernet Sauvignon on the label.
Today we’re offering two, each representing fine expressions of Cab at their respective price points:
2015 Board Track Racer (Mary Ryan) The Chief Cabernet Sauvignon
During Mike’s tenure with the winery, we’ve seen a subtle shift in the house style. The ethos – powerhouse wines structured for ageing – hasn’t changed, but texturally, there has been a quiet shift towards polished tannins and graceful mouthfeel. The ’15 Chief is a great example.
The Board Track Racer label has been a great success for Mark Ryan, combining unused juice from the main label with purchased fruit when required. Two important notes for this 2015. First, this vintage has a high enough proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon (85%, the remainder Malbec and Petit Verdot) that it can be labeled as such. Second, no purchased fruit was required here: the Cabernet is entirely from younger vines at two important vineyard sources for Mark Ryan: Phinny Hill in the Horse Heaven Hills, and Quintessence on Red Mountain.
The first thing you notice when this hits the glass is its inky purple-black color, and then soon after, the aromas start wafting out: black plum and violet, black tea leaves and eucalyptus. Unmistakably Cabernet. The palate (14.6% listed alc) is intense, extracted, a total stainer that fans out and saturates from attack to finish. I love the tannin profile here. They’re present in a way that makes you know you’re drinking Cab, but they’re fine-grained, classy, supple. The overall package is charming as can be, just irresistible at a $25 tag.
2014 Mark Ryan Cabernet Sauvignon Old Vine
This is the newest Cabernet in the Mark Ryan family. It was inaugurated in 2012 (we offered that beauty), and then the winery skipped 2013 due to dissatisfaction with the fruit quality, declassifying into lower-tier bottlings. So this is the sophomore vintage for Old Vines, which comes from one vineyard long used by Mark Ryan (Ciel du Cheval on Red Mountain), and two others that are newer to the winery: Red Willow and Phinny Hill.
It is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged for 21 months in 75% new French oak, and it begins with a nose that has wonderful subtleties both savory (golden beet, rhubarb) and mineral (graphite) to complement a core of black cherry and blackcurrant fruit. The old vine intensity dazzles on the palate, as does the balanced mix of fruit and earth tones. The finish is awash in English breakfast tea tannins, again seemingly combed to a fine sheen. Production was just 200 cases (down from 300 cases of the 2012), and with a strong barrel review already out there, I don’t expect this to last long.
Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] (93-95)+pts.”
First come first served up to 24 bottles total, and the wines should arrive in the next week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.