The venerable Markham Vineyards presents a trio of wines for us today, two of its District Series merlots and the latest offering of The Altruist, a “right bank” style Bordeaux blend sourced from all over Napa.
2018 Markham Merlot Yountville – Surprisingly tannic for a merlot, I sipped and sipped at this bottling waiting for it to open up, but the moment never arrived. Notes of licorice and cloves dominate a palate that, eventually, gives way to dried violets and a spray from the spice cabinet, though it’s a bit of a slog to get there. The finish remains tough, closed-off, with lingering notes of hearty oak and black pepper. Weird, like cabernet in disguise. Drink this one with a hearty meal, for sure. B / $55
2018 Markham Merlot Oak Knoll District – Formally denoted “Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley” on the label, lest there’s any confusion, this merlot initially cuts a similar pattern to the Yountville bottling, fairly dusty and tannic, with notes of intense plum and a meandering spice bill. Some floral notes emerge as the wine warms up, but it’s slow going, tempered by the tannins and a moderate note of greenery. Light notes of chocolate give the finish a bit of a lift. B+ / $55
2017 Markham The Altruist – 68% merlot, 16% cabernet sauvignon, 6% petit verdot, 5% malbec, and 5% cabernet franc. The blend definitely bumps up the complexity level here, the wine fragrant with spices that mingle with its cherry-heavy core. Notes of chocolate and fresh plum emerge with time in glass, moving into a gingerbread character from there. Lingering notes of vanilla, black pepper, and a smattering reprise of baking spices give the finish a lengthy, engaging character. A / $29