Last week I worked with Bob Marr’s 2006 Petit Sirah Cuvee Patrick, named after his son. The wine is a blend of petit sirah, zinfandel, carignane, syrah, viognier and a bit of orange muscat.
Bob takes a chef’s approach to blending his wines, having worked in restaurants during college and after His fruit sources include John Alger’s vineyards on the side of Mount Lassen in Tehama County. Planted in the ’70’s at an elevation of 2500 feet, these vineyards are at the snow line, and are subject to flurries in late Spring and Fall.
Bob’s winemaking approach is very simple: find low-yielding grape sources, get involved in the vineyard management, harvest at optimum ripeness, destem the grapes, cold soak, and either innoculate with yeast strains or allow native yeasts to start the fermentation. But what is most remarkable is that Bob has very little machinery to work with. This is not about the latest rotary fermenter or bladder press, but all about just staying out of the way and letting the vineyards speak through the wine.
The wines are manipulated and moved as little as possible. Bob prefers gravity to pumps, and fines and racks his wines only when necessary. He filters only rarely, preferring to let the wines settle before bottling.
Bob’s “Garage” Winery, in a storage space near Davis, California
The wine is dense, with color so dark you can’t see through a glass. On the nose it has wild berries and spice, with a touch of eucalyptus.
The first taste is a mass of blackberry pie fruit, with tannins present but in check. The wine is dense and thick without being heavy, but you will definitely feel the weight on your tongue .
The finish is long, with a trail of fine tannins competing with the dark fruits for the last impression.
Bob’s total production is under 2,000 cases, all hand-made from purchased grapes. Bob has long relationships with growers, dating back to his days working harvest during college. His preference is Rhone-style wines and old vines Zinfandel, each wine individually crafted and cared for.
If you would like more information on finding Marr Cellars wines please contact me.