For years Markham has been a standby of supermarket shoppers: Relatively reliable, affordable, and always on the shelves. The mass-market bottlings are nothing that will knock you over (I have a string of reviews in my notes, mostly B+ ratings, dating back to the 1990 vintage), but in a pinch, they’ll do fine.
Now Markham is moving upmarket with a couple of single-vineyard estate-grown wines. Can they pull it off?
2006 Markham “The Philanthropist” Cabernet Sauvignon hails from the winery’s Yountville Estate, and it’s a big and tannic number in keeping with wines from the central Napa area. A cab this young needs time in the glass to open up, and The Philanthropist is no exception, loaded with furry tannins from the get-go. Time with some air shows more of Phila’s charms, with leathery smokiness at play with kinky raspberry and blueberry character, unusual for Napa cabernet. The Philanthropist needs some time in bottle to find its feet, but in 3 to 5 years this should be a whole new animal. A- / $53
2006 Markham “The Altruist” Cabernet Sauvignon comes from Markham’s Calistoga Estate vineyard, but it shares a lot of The Philanthropist’s character: Needing plenty of time to open up before its charms become apparent. The Altruist is considerably fruitier than The Philanthropist, and it’s more ready to drink now. Once aerated, it shows more of a cherry/strawberry tone, with minimal earth/wood character to it. A touch astringent on the finish, I’d give it another year or two, but the adventurous might try it today. A- / $53
Incidentally, these wines owe their names to Markham’s “Mark of Distinction” program, $25,000 grants which the company gives to individuals or groups who engage in neighborhood charity programs. These two wines are dedicated to Table to Table (a food bank) in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey and to the Bartlett Arboretum (a tree habitat) in Bell Plaine, Kansas.