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CLONYC 29 - The Marston family Vineyard with Elizabeth Marston Leahy & Jamie Leahy

This CLONYC thing has morphed into something I could not even imagine when I first started nearly six years ago as we now have good fortune of hosting some of the worlds premiere winemakers. What I love best is meeting people behind the labels; people who have more passion for what they do in their pinky than many others in other walks of life have in their whole ‘selves’.

Last nights Marston dinner with Elizabeth (Marston) and Jamie Leahy of Marston Family vineyard double downed on that thought. Nicer people you won’t find. A lively and fun evening of great people, food and oh yeah, wines was had by all.

So let’s talk wine.

Strangely, I do not think I ever had a Marston Cabernet. I am more of a ‘valley floor’ guy. These are serious wines that deserve your attention. They are certainly distinctive; I can’t say they remind me of anyone else’s wine I have had. Purity and focus is the key to these deep, dark and precious beauties. Elizabeth and Jamie brought two whites and six cabernets for the group to sample. Steve filled in with a few 2002s to make us a straight seven year vertical. I want to thank Elizabeth and Jamie for traveling to the countries east coast to share their wines, stories and passion. Thanks to Steve and Sue for the generous add-on of the 2002s.

All wines were opened at 6pm with the exception of the 2002, which I believe was double decanted at about 3pm.


2009 Marston Family Vineyard Albion. This beautifully fragrant sauvignon Blanc blend (Sémillon 4%) has a wonderful balance while showing purity and elegance. Pretty fresh cut lemongrass, crushed stones with hints of grapefruit peel and spring flowers. Some interesting minerality revealed itself as it found its perfect window of drinking temp. Elizabeth mentioned that they wanted to create a white Bordeaux-like bottling. They have achieved just that. Simply beautiful.

2010 Marston Family Vineyard Albion. Nothing simple about this one. It shows more earthy notes. This one shows a larger frame with more blunted fruits. The nose showed some tomato leaf within. Its youth evident, this displayed some great verve that was more in your face than its younger sibling. I would like to sample this one again, on my deck whilst grilling some shrimp.

2002 Marston Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose was floral with hints of violets, cassis and cardamom. Palate showed a precisely woven Cabernet with wonderful black currant, blackberry and cola. There was some plead pencil shavings, leather and cedar box. I could have sniffed this one all night. A perfect start to a fantastic round of Cabs that were to follow.

2003 Marston Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Although similar on the nose at first, this one went on a roller coaster ride quickly. From deep black filled fruits to edgy back to fragrant fruit. In one of the dips I got some metallic notes, but on the whole this was a fun gregarious wine with nice balance and lots of life left and tannins showed themselves to be in control.

2004 Marston Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. This one started off like a brute and 'me' not being shy of the brutes loved the texture and focus it had. Pure cassis and kirsch notes were driving this pure cab. Alluring black cherry cola & sassafras with some plushiness and roundness---It had me at hello. Tremendous depth, this had a nice medium bodied mouth feel. Balance & structure was what this was all about.

2005 Marston Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Chunkier than those before her, this was one that could certainly have used a decant. It showed the Marston black fruit profile with more angles and intersections. Deep and dark with hints of leather, soy and graphite. I would love to see where this goes in about 4 years.

2006 Marston Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. This was the most expressive wine of the group. Layer upon layer of black fruit goodness with lush undertones. Balanced perfectly, this flew high when accompanying food. Kirsch Royal laced sweet black currant with some roundness. The proverbial iron fist/velvet glove thing is well in play with this one. I got some notes of exotic tea leaf and spring flowers. The depth was incredible. This was the best of the 2004 and the 2005 wrapped into a neat little package. Reminded me of a 2002 Bryant I had a few years back. My WOTN.

2007 Marston Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. In keeping with most 2007s Napa Cabs I have experienced, this certainly was attractive right out of the gate. It had the dark fruit thing going alongside, but what I find is a (and I hate to use this word) somewhat ho-hum version of the 2005 served earlier in the night. It’s well balanced and enjoyable; maybe it need many years in the bottle. If 2007s are wines made for the masses, count me as non-mass.

2008 Marston Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.YIKERS!, this goes to the outer limits of all else before her. Simply delicious (And I DON’T use that word often). Big and flamboyant, this had some butter popcorn, white chocolate and bouncy sassafras in play. A medium bodied wine, this showed great structure and promise for a bright future. With most of these 2008s, I find them enjoyable very early in their lives. I also believe these will become amazing with half dozen years in the bottle; as this sat in the glass for an hour or so it became graceful and elegant while remaining well structured and prominent.
If you must open one, you best decant. I loved it.

Not really being one to rate wines when the folks who have made a life of making them are sitting right next to me, I took a chance and went around the table for the groups 1,2 and 3. Elizabeth & Jamie were all too happy to play along, and as a matter of fact almost giddy to hear what the group had to say!
The 2006 was the clear WOTN. Bravo!

1st place
2006 - 6 votes
2002 - 3 votes
2008 - 2 votes
2004 - 1 vote

Runners up
2004 – 5 votes
2002 – 4 votes
2007, 2006 & 2003 all got 1 vote