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2015 BEST Cabernet Sauvignon: Mazzocco Winery

Author: Julie Fadda Powers
May, 2015 Issue

“When I make wine, I do what I enjoy. Lots of people like the results, so I’m fortunate.” —Antoine Favero

While Mazzocco Winery is mostly known for its Zinfandels (it produces more than 20 and won Best Zinfandel in 2011), it would almost be a crime for wine lovers not to taste its complete lineup. This year, NorthBay biz readers voted its Cabernet Sauvignon into the top spot. “It’s great mountain fruit,” says Winemaker Antoine Favero, “that’s the secret.” Favero chooses to focus on where the grapes are grown so they can best express themselves in the glass. “The common thread is native yeast,” he says. “None is added. I just let the vineyard showcase the fruit.”
The winery produces three series of Cabernets: Inheritance, Dry Creek Valley Reserve and Sonoma County. “The reserve comes from the estate, while the Inheritance features Alexander Valley, Sonoma County and Dry Creek Valley. What sets them apart are the localities, barrel selection and blending,” says Favero, “and the Sonoma County series is mainly for wholesale markets.” (Having tasted through many of the winery’s offerings, I can attest to their sense of place 100 percent. It's outstanding for each wine, and all have the backbone and structure to both pair well with food and stand up to aging.) Favero suggests pairing them with locally produced foods, which will bring that sense of place even more to life.
Mazzocco is one of eight wineries owned by Ken and Diane Wilson, whose first winery, Wilson Winery in Dry Creek Valley, was established in 1993. They purchased Mazzocco (established in 1984) in 2005. Favero started with Wilson Winery in 2003. “They only had Wilson at the time, with 225 acres planted,” he says. “Now there are 650 planted acres [the total for all eight wineries], all of which are sustainably farmed. We just added Rockpile Ranch, which is 25 acres of mostly Cabernet. It’s beyond the bridge at Lake Sonoma. It’s beautiful up there.”
Favero joined Mazzocco in 2005. He’s also the winemaker at Soda Rock Winery in Alexander Valley, where he showcases his Bordeaux varieties. He and Diane Wilson also are co-winemakers as deLormier (stay tuned for some Cabs coming out of there, too, particularly from Alexander Valley).
“When I make wine, I do what I enjoy. Lots of people like the results, so I’m fortunate,” says Favero. “It’s fun to create something people enjoy.” Originally from the Champagne region of France, Favero’s family moved to Peru when he was a young child. By the time he reached age 9, they’d relocated to Northern California’s Wine Country. It was at UC Davis where he discovered his love for winemaking and, true to his roots, he now uses traditional French techniques for his craft.  
When you visit the winery, there are a variety of tasting experiences available. The high-ceilinged, expansive tasting room brings the outside in with its window-covered walls (sometimes they’re opened completely up) and comfortable seating areas both inside and out where you can take in the outstanding valley views. Those looking for something more intimate can book a tasting in the adjacent Monkey Lounge or upstairs in the Flight Lounge, which overlooks the Briar Vineyard. You can also reserve a picnic lunch and tasting or a portfolio wine tour where you can visit several Wilson-owned wineries in the comfort of a limo van—or do Wine Country by air in a helicopter or small plane. “You can walk from the tasting room to the air strip,” says Favero. “You’ll fly over all the vineyards in Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley. It takes about an hour.” The winery also offers a monthly music performance, usually jazz. “Bring a picnic,” advises Favero.
About winning this year’s award? “I’m pleasantly delighted and humbled at the same time,” he says.


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