NOTE: No longer located in Napa. This review is out of date and archived. Miller Wine Works is owned by Gary Miller who was a professional chef for a number of years. His is as passionate about wine as he is about food and now devotes his time to running all aspects of his own winery including the winemaking. His first introduction to wine came in the late 1970’s when he was a wine buyer. Gary has a culinary background having graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York. He worked as a chef for some very high end restaurants from Chicago to Aspen which gave him a unique appreciation of fine wine and great food. When you think about it, a culinary background is good training for the types of decisions that are inherently part of making wine – the “recipe” if you will.
As he says, wine is “liquid food”. Gary moved to the Napa Valley in the late 90’s and soon took wine making related jobs with Napa wineries, La Jota and Robert Biale Vineyards. It was here that he received his first hands on experience making wine which would well serve as his platform for his own wine making efforts. Great ingredients in food can be compared to finding great vineyards in winemaking. Through his local wine connections he has been able to secure grapes from several high end vineyards on a consistent basis (the majority being in Napa but also Sonoma, Marin and Lake Counties).
The 2005, The Works – Kimberly’s selection (named after his wife) is a Rhone styled blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre – all grown in Napa. It is a unique proprietary blend that is dark crimson in color with a luscious and supple mouth feel. The nose is somewhat smoky and earthy with floral nuances. This is a great food wine. The 2005 Syrah is a mouth coating rich juicy wine well layered in flavor. The bouquet hints of vanilla and violets with a palate that is full of dark fruit including blackberry and blueberry. Well balanced tannins anchor a very long finish.
It is always refreshing to find “unique – non typical Napa” wines on this project being produced from Napa wineries- Miller makes two of these types of wines. One is a Pinot noir from Marin County. Marin County is certainly not known for its wines compared to say Napa or Sonoma as there are only limited areas where grapes can be grown here. For instance close to the ocean its too cold and urban development and rugged chaparral covered hillsides also limit the vineyard terroir. The growing season tends to be fairly long with ocean and bay influences moderating the temperatures in the winter more than vineyards to the north while in the summer provides a cooler long growing season.
As a result flavors can really develop slowly, the grapes have excellent acidity and typically do not reach uber ripeness, thus keeping the sugars lower. Miller’s 2005 Pinot noir is certainly representative of what Marin county can offer as far as terroir. After trying the wine you might think Sonoma Coast, Russian River or Carneros – no, its from Marin County! This wine has great structure and is absolutely loaded with fruit. The nose has nuances of spice and chocolate mixed with cranberry leading to a palate that is well structured and well balanced with appealing flavors including cherry cola, raspberry and dark cherry. Only 163 cases of this wine were produced.
The other “not usually found in Napa” wine is a Non Vintage Port called Teodoro (named after his grandfather) from the Sage Canyon Vineyard located in the eastern Vaca mountain range. Normally when a Napa winery produces a Portuguese styled port they source from vineyards located outside of Napa County. It is unusual to find the following varietals in Napa – this wine is a blend of Tinta Cao, Touriga National and Souzao and each varietal contributes its own characteristics to this wine. In addition, it is very rare to find any non vintage wines in Napa; the beauty of these types of wines is you combine wine that has the benefit of being aged with younger wine which shows more fruit.
Port lovers take note, this is a rich wine both in alcohol and flavor. The bouquet is very pungent with notes of candied sweet fruit. The mouth feel is rounded, somewhat soft but full of fruit, nuances of cloves, spices and browned sugar. This wine is guaranteed to warm you up on a cold winter’s day! Oh, and the price is quite reasonable to. For more information and some of Gary’s special recipes, visit: www.millerwineworks.com
NOTE: This review has been archived.
REASON: Moved out of Napa County, still making wines but no longer a Napa winery
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