Review: Mira Offers Up Cool and Wildly Innovative Wines

The Napa-based winery experiments with a white Cabernet Franc, underwater aging and...large wooden eggs?

July 25, 2023 6:41 am
Four bottles from the Napa-based Mira Winery
A few of the unique bottles from Mira Winery
Mira Winery

What we’re drinking: Wines from Mira Winery, a stalwart but experimental winery

Where they’re from: Napa Valley, California

Why we’re drinking these: Two guys walk into a bar. No, this isn’t the start of a bad joke — winemaker Gustavo A. Gonzalez and entrepreneur Jim “Bear” Dyke, Jr. met by circumstance at a D.C. hotel bar in 2005. A beer or two later and Bear was able to woo Gonzalez away from his role at Robert Mondavi Winery to start their own project together.

Said winery came to life in 2009 when the pair were able to purchase fruit from the Hyde Vineyard in Carneros and Cabernet Sauvignon from a coveted vineyard in the Stag’s Leap District. By 2016, they owned their own land in Yountville and began building Mira Winery.

While the winery now excels at Napa’s jazz standards of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, it also has a knack for innovation. Firstly, there’s the Franc Blanc — red Cabernet Franc grapes pressed quickly, similar to white wine. This red-as-white style is often used by Oregon and California wineries when the grapes are tainted by wildfire smoke. But the Mira team was more intrigued by exploring the grape’s alternatives. “I love Cabernet Franc and I love to get creative,” says Gonzalez. “In 2021 I had the opportunity to harvest some Cabernet Franc on the early side, similar to the parameters I use for my white wines. It occurred to me that the world doesn’t need another rosé, but is missing a white cabernet franc.”

Gustavo A Gonzalez Mira's winemaker and co-founder
Gustavo A. Gonzalez, Mira’s winemaker and co-founder
Mira Winery

They’re also playing around with underwater aging and resting their wine in large wooden eggs. “I went to Cognac to visit Tonnellerie Taransaud Cooperage,” says Gonzalez. “During the tour I was let in on a secret they were working on: a French oak egg [used for fermenting or aging wines]. It was love at first sight and I thought, ‘I need half a dozen.’ Once I came back down to Earth and realized that only two are produced per year (!) I felt very fortunate that we’d be able to get one and become the only winery in the Americas to have one. It’s a work of art and the wine we’ve made in it so far reflects that.”

How they taste: 

  • Ovum Aureum: The name refers to that elusive egg-shaped barrel that Gonzalez was able to extract from Cognac’s Tonnellerie Taransaud. The shape is reflected in the architecture of the winery itself — the design, along with the concept for the winery, was inspired by the Golden Ratio. The egg shape of the barrel allows the wine to ebb and flow naturally, letting the wine mix with itself while fermenting. Made with 100% Sauvignon Gris, it’s got lovely notes of lime leaf and Marcona almonds, with a hint of freshly-bitten apple salinity. Gustavo says, “I would add that in the case of the Ovum (which its proportions are in golden ratio), the golden ratio results in the vessel causing its own mixing,” says Gonzalez. “This brings a unique textural element to the wine produced in it that cannot be replicated by other means.” $85
  • Cabernet Sauvignon MBar Vineyard: Made with grapes grown from the base of the Mayacamas mountain range, this drinks with all the notes you want from a well-made Napa Cab: lush stewed blackberry, stone, mint and intense cassis. Hang on to it for a year or two to let the flavors fully integrate. $140
  • Blanc de Cabernet Franc: If you need a conversation starter, here’s a Cabernet Franc (yes, the red grape) made into a white wine. It’s a bit of a brain-twister — every sip has underlying notes of familiarity from the Cabernet Franc. Consider it Cabernet Franc from the Upside Down, golden-hued and Petit Manseng-ish, with shimmering, bright citrus and peach notes balanced with a tannic, almost-savory chamomile texture. (And while odd in concept, it’s elegant on the palate — you’re going to want another few glasses.) $65
An Underwater Wine Aging Experiment Is Showing “Stunning” Results
An Argentinian winery has been aging Malbec bottles off the coast (literally)

Fun fact: The winery has been playing around with aging wines at the depths of the Charleston harbor. Forty-eight bottles went down into the deep, including their aptly-named “Aquaoir” 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (for three months), all housed in specially-made underwater housing. The motion of the tides lulled the wine as they age, to create what Charleston-based sommelier Patrick Emerson called “something magical.”

Where to buy: or your local boutique wine store.


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