I had recently discovered Tongue Dancer wines when I spied this bottle of MacPhail at my local Costco store.
I thought it would be great to drink this bottle side by side with a bottle of James MacPhail’s newer venture, Tongue Dancer wines.
As soon as I started researching I discovered that MacPhail Family wines had been sold to the Hess Collection in 2011. At that time, James MacPhail stayed on as winemaker, but at some point in the Hess Collection ownership, Matt Courtney is given credit as consulting winemaker for the MacPhail label.
I couldn’t figure out when this transition took place and so I don’t actually know if James MacPhail had anything to do with this bottle.
Stymied, I tucked this MacPhail bottle into the wine fridge and promptly forgot about it.
Fast forward about a year and I was excited to land on this bottle while perusing for a Saturday night at home wine selection.
The back label is forthcoming about the production methods, sans winemaker, for this wine and I do always appreciate that.
This bottle turned out to be a stunner for me. Beautifully silky mouthfeel which I did not expect at 14.6% ABV. How do you get to that with grapes from a cool climate region like Anderson Valley?
There were aromas of strawberry, cherry, spice, all the Pinot Noir flavors, that carried over onto the palate. What sealed it for me was a beautiful gravel like minerality – delicious.
In 2016 only 555 cases were produced, so still small production. I’d like to assume that regardless of who was on first, so to speak, that the wine continued to be crafted with care and diligence in the style it was originally intended.
After digging around in the inter-webs a little further, I discovered that the MacPhail Family winery tasting room in Sebastopol was closed at the end of 2019 and that the decision to discontinue the label followed.
Thank Goodness there is Tongue Dancer which I think is a step – or two – up from this one. I really should’ve opened a bottle of Tongue Dancer with this one for that side by side.
But, I didn’t.
So the least I can do is share how great it was. Even if it is now permanently past tense.