Mira Wines

When I started writing this blog, I never really though about the whole sample thing until they slowly started showing up. My first thought? “Hey cool! Free wine!” The next immediate thought was: “So what do I do now?”

I know I am going to sound like a schmuck when I say that getting free wine is not all that it is cracked up to be. At least for me. I figure that if people send me wine to review, I need to provide the time and attention to write an honest, clever, thoughtful post (I like to think I usually get at least one of the three in each article).

Well, it is often hard to dedicate that kind of time, given the demands of my two rambunctious boys, my lovely wife, and, um, oh yeah, my job.

A few weeks ago I was sent a few samples from Mira Winery in St. Helena, and the wines sat in my cellar waiting for me to get my act together. I needed to sit down with them and pay them their proper attention. Finally, I decided to take them with me out to California (I wonder if Mira has ever had any of their wines leave the state only to be carried back to the place of their birth) and try them with my father-in-law; he likes wine and I might get an added benefit–it might help him think that my blog was more than just a hobby.

I also had a few days in wine country planned and Mira Winery, being right there on Zinfandel Lane in St. Helena, was firmly in my cross hairs. Mira is a relatively new winery (established in 2009), but in landing the former head red wine maker at Mondavi, Gustavo Gonzalez, certainly put the winery on the right track.

In all, Mira sent me four wines: 2012 Rosé, 2011 Stanly Ranch Pinot Noir, 2009 Hyde Syrah, and the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon.

20140416-075613.jpg20140416-075633.jpg2012 Mira Winery Rosé of Pinot Noir: Retail $27. Pale salmon color with a muted nose with hints of strawberry sneaking through. On the palate the wine is very bright with some subtle peach and even some melon. A bit thin on the mid-palate, but the acidity comes screaming through on the finish. Very Good. 86-88 Points. 


2011 Mira Winery Pinot Noir Stanly Ranch: Retail $42. I have had a fair amount of wine from Stanly Ranch, one of the legendary vineyards in Carneros. An inviting nose of eucalyptus and Bing cherry, I would classify this as a classic Stanly Ranch–great fruit up front with depth and balance. Impressive finish. Outstanding. 89-91 Points.

20140416-075651.jpg2009 Mira Winery Syrah Hyde Vineyard: Retail $42. Yet another remarkable vineyard source in Carneros, this Hyde Syrah was brooding and unctuous with dark berry fruit and spice. On the palate it was impressively rich and full, paired with balance and depth. Sure, this is a bit big but it is also oh so good. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.






2010 Mira Winery Cabernet Sauvignon: Retail $52. This 91% Cab (with 5% Cab Franc and 4% Syrah) comes from primarily Rutherford fruit and is aged for 20 months in 60% new oak. The nose was a bit tight initially, but with some time revealed blackberry, pepper, and tobacco.On first sip, I found this a bit thin but it steadily improved. It is rather clear this needs some time: I would love to revisit this in 3-5 years (or more). Very Good to Outstanding now (88-90 Points), but this has the potential to be quite a bit more. I expect with some patience, this would hit 91-93 Points rather easily. [Note: This was vastly better on the second day, which only reinforces my feeling that this needs time—and I would bump this up to a 90-92 Points now, and potentially 92-94 Points in a few years.]


About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
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19 Responses to Mira Wines

  1. vinoinlove says:

    I agree with you that wine samples can be quite time consuming..
    For a new winery these wines seem to be relatively high-priced – at least from a European perspective but I have to say that the Syrah sounds like a wine I’d like to try.



  2. April says:

    Loved the beginning paragraph, I’ve often been in the same situation. It’s funny how at first you think- “wow, this is awesome, free wine!” Only to realize there is an unspoken agreement to write about it. I have a bit of catching up to do too!! Great write up. Cheers!


  3. laurasmess says:

    Nice reviews Jeff. I’ve never tried an American wine (that must sound terrible to you… but I live in Australia and our wine industry is thriving so I’ve only really tried European wines apart from our local stuff) but your review of the Syrah really makes me want to track one down! Sounds delicious. And free wine? Yeah, I get where you’re coming from. I get free food, which is awesome but I also feel the same sense of responsibility that you have. Well done to get recognized enough for free samples though!


  4. Just had the ’09 Hyde Syrah Saturday night. Really enjoyed it


  5. A rose for $27?? Wow. Seems a bit steep, especially considering your review…

    Am with you on the samples “dilemma”, not that I am getting more and more of them as well…still excited about them, but the commitment is definitely a thing to consider…


    • It was not indicated anywhere in the literature, but I would be willing to bet that this was a saignée–those are really hard to get just right as the fruit was grown to produce a different wine…. $27 is a bit steep….


      • Oh, interesting. Never heard the term saignée. Never stop learning from you…


      • I forgot, you German types don’t make much rosé! When making a red wine, the winemaker often “bleeds” off some juice early on in the process (soignée is French for “bled”), this is thought to improve the remaining juice since there is less juice macerating with the skins. That juice that is bled off used to be actually discarded, but is now often sold as rosé. The problem is that the grapes were grown to be a red wine and were picked at an appropriate sugar level for a red wine (probably around 24-25 Brix for Pinot, for example). The better rosés (in my opinion) are those whose fruit was grown specifically for making a rosé (usually picked at a much lower sugar level (probably in the 20-22 range for Pinot). That makes a huge difference when crafting the wine, which is what I assume was going on here (but of course could be wrong….).


  6. dwdirwin says:

    That’s funny timing on this article- my husband was just mentioning he wanted to send some samples of our personal wine label to some of the bloggers I follow. Hmm, I’ll have to mention your perspective on it 🙂


    • Now before all those other bloggers jump on my case for killing the goose, let me qualify my statement. Receiving samples is better than not–it is certainly a good “problem” to have, but most people don’t see or think about the work involved in writing about the experience. By the way, do you no longer allow comments on your blog? I hope that was not my fault!


      • dwdirwin says:

        Yes, it was totally you- I got tired of you calling me out on not providing complete info on my posts- haha! No, I really miss reading the few comments I got, I love the dialogue. I guess it has something to do with moving it to the new website- I didn’t see a place to comment and maybe as an email subscriber, it will allow for comments with the email? I will bring it up with the pr agency who set it all up. Are you following on the new wordpress site- because I have stopped posting on the old one. I totally get what you are saying about the samples, and I didn’t take it as complaining 🙂 Seriously, my husband just asked this weekend if we could send a sample to that “bicycle blogger guy” to review. I even wrote down your email to send a formal request.


  7. Hannah says:

    I had the 2010 Mira Cabernet last year at a company picnic. It was fantastic. I would definitely recommend it to any Cab lover. I recently bought a wine box gift set for my mom for Mother’s Day. It is called “Date Night” in their online store http://store.miranapa.com/date-night-p180.aspx (maybe she will drink it with my dad, but I am hoping she is saving some for a mother/daughter date night for next time I am in town). She loved it. The wine gift boxes make great gift, plus… it is free shipping *hint hint*…. which actually saves a good bit of money versus buying individual bottles. 🙂 Thanks for the blog post, I look forward to reading your blog more in the future.

    Last but not least, have you tried drinking wine which cycling? Just curious.


    • Thanks for stoping by! Send me your mom’s email and I will try and guilt her into saving that wine for you–no promises! Yes, I have had some wine while riding–mostly wine tasting in France. Let’s just say it is not advised….


  8. Ford says:

    I bought a case of Mira wines for a company outing too. Pretty big hit, particularly the Rose!


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