[review] There are certain wines in this world that grab hold of you and stay with you forever. A whisper of a breeze will remind me of your first sip, a wistful longing will overtake you suddenly for no reason at all…it’s a rare and elusive bottle that can have this effect on novice wine lovers and oenophiles alike. One of those bottles just may be the 2010 Maya from Dalla Valle Vineyards in Napa Valley.

Dalla Valle Vineyards is a boutique winery overlooking the Napa Valley floor from a hillside terrace 400 feet above the Silverado Trail in Oakville. Since Gustav and Naoko Dalla Valle purchased the property in 1982 and began planting vines, this exceptional acreage has continually distinguished itself as the ideal site for producing some of the world’s finest wines, thanks to the perfect convergence of lingering sunlight, cooling marine influence and red volcanic soil.

Originally from Kobe, Japan, where her ancestors were Sake makers, Naoko and her husband Gustav shared a vision to produce world-renown Grand cru wines. Since Gustav’s death in 1995, Naoko has continued to realize that vision as sole proprietor of the couple’s Oakville estate, assisted by a formidable team of hand-picked experts. Under her inspired direction, Dalla Valle Vineyards maintains the strictest of standards and continues to scale the heights of quality.

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As dictated by naturally low-yielding soils composed primarily of fractured volcanic rock, Dalla Valle Vineyards keeps fruit production tightly controlled. Rootstocks have been carefully chosen for compatibility with the estate’s terroir, excellent drainage and ideal exposure to sunlight—a full hour more than vines on the valley floor enjoy. The combination of these elements enables Dalla Valle to produce fruit of unique quality and highly sought-after wines in very limited quantities.

Chief winemaker Andy Erickson has been instrumental in crafting some of Napa Valley’s very finest wines. As a fervent believer in terroir, his chief concern at Dalla Valle is to understand and maximize the unique qualities that allow this vineyard to produce truly special and authentic wines. He engages in every aspect of the process, from grape growing to bottling, working in tandem with Naoko and her team to maintain focus and strive for the pinnacle of quality.

This jewel in the crown originates in the remarkable vineyard that shares its name. A proprietary blend aged in primarily new French oak, Maya showcases the site’s exceptional Cabernet Franc; it is graceful and alluring with an unmistakable pedigree. Fewer than 500 cases are produced each year.

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This is a wine that came together long before harvest, as virtually all of the vineyard blocks on the property performed at the top, especially the Maya blocks that provide the building blocks for this wine. Individually, the wines from these blocks were inspirational. Together, they create a classic Maya. There’s a waiting list, so sign up and cross your fingers that your number will soon come up to taste this fantastic wine.

Having just been bottled, after 26 months of barrel aging, its broad shoulders and muscular nature still define the wine, but as it opens it reveals its many layers—dark chocolate, baking spices, floral aromas, and notes of wet gravel float up as the wine is being poured. The dark fruit flavors are mouth-filling, with a dense core of cassis, frankincense, and roasted coffee, supported by a framework of sturdy but polished tannins.

The 2010 Maya is an ‘heirloom’ wine for the ages – enjoy it now and in 25 years.

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