Wine to Watch

Miraflores
Placerville, California

At its highest point, the property where Miraflores is located reaches an elevation of 2,960 feet. From this pinnacle, the terrain rolls off gently in all directions, creating a variety of microclimates for growing a variety of quality grapes that produce premium wines.

"We selected four or five hills that offer the best exposure," explains Victor Alvarez, a pathologist who commutes from Yuma, Arizona, on weekends to this breathtaking vineyard in the Sierra Foothills. And they must have done their homework. Because even before it has officially celebrated its second anniversary, Miraflores was named a "winery to watch" by Wine Spectator.

From the beginning, Victor and his wife Cheryl have believed in doing everything right. They hired Vineyard Manager Rick Wickham, who oversees a substantial number of crewmembers to keep the vines in pristine condition. They also snagged renowned winemaker Marco Cappelli, whose résumé includes a degree in enology at UC-Davis, followed by hands-on experience in France, Italy, Carneros, and the Napa Valley. Marco became friends with American winemaking great André Tchedlitcheff, who helped him become a winemaker for Swanson Vineyards in Rutherford at the age of only 26. Marco joined Miraflores as a consulting winemaker in 2003, and the first wines were made there at harvest time in 2006. Victor and Cheryl's wisdom in hiring Marco did not go unnoticed by Wine Spectator, which applauded the couple's savvy move. In fact, after only two vintages under Marco's guidance, the estate-grown Miraflores Zinfandel has made it to the esteemed publication's recommended list for its intensity, structure, and keen sense of place. Intent on taming tannins, Marco presses the harvested grapes in whole clusters before stripping them from their stems, a technique credited with enhancing flavors and body without intensifying tannins.

The tasting room, blended right into the landscape as if it has been there for decades, reminds the visitor of a Tuscan retreat. It provides a friendly spot for wine tourers to stop and taste each wine and reflect on the boundless potential of this new winery.

What To Buy:
'05 Zinfandel
Ripe raspberry, spice, mulberry, toasty oak nuances $22
'06 Zinfandel Raspberry jam, black pepper spice, broad and soft mouthfeel $24
'05 Syrah Smoky, gamey, blueberry, vanilla, black cherry, anise $30
'08 Pinot Grigio Green apple, pear, mineral, fresh acidity, long finish $16

Contact:
530.647.8505; Fax: 530.647.8507
mirafloreswinery.com
2120 Four Springs Trail
Placerville, CA 95667
Tasting Room Open Daily 10-5

Getting There:
From downtown Placerville, take Cedar Ravine Rd and go left at Pleasant Valley Rd (5 miles). Stay on the same road at the junction of Mt. Aukum (E16) and Pleasant Valley Rds as it curves and turns into Sly Park Rd (1.4 miles). Turn right onto Four Springs Trail (1/3 mile). The winery is on the left.

 

This story originally appeared on Touring and Tasting