1991 Dalla Valle, Maya, Napa Valley, Bottle (750ml) Rating:RP99
1994 Dalla Valle Vineyards,  Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Bottle (750ml) Rating:RP94
1995 Dalla Valle, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Bottle (750ml) Rating:WS95
1996 Dalla Valle, Maya, Napa Valley, Bottle (750ml) Rating:RP96
2009 Dalla Valle, Maya, Napa Valley, Bottle (750ml) Rating:RP99
2019 Dalla Valle, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Bottle (750ml) Rating:RP98+/LP98
2019 Dalla Valle, Maya, Napa Valley, Bottle (750ml) Rating:RP100/JD100/LP100

The Dalla Valle Maya - Unraveling The Allure Of Dalla Valle's Iconic Wine

In the picturesque landscape of Napa Valley, one name consistently stands out as a beacon of winemaking brilliance: Dalla Valle. At the heart of their portfolio, the Dalla Valle Maya emerges as a true masterpiece, a Bordeaux-style blend that has garnered international acclaim for its complexity, finesse, and the sheer artistry that defines each bottle. This unique wine reflects the family's dedication to excellence and their profound connection to the land.

The Story of A Family Estate

Gustav and Naoko initially ventured to Napa Valley, from ventures in Tokyo and SCUBA diving in the Mediterranean, with ambitions of establishing a luxury resort featuring a restaurant. Their introduction to a promising piece of land on the eastern hillsides, facilitated by real estate agent Jean Phillips (later the founder of Screaming Eagle) and Ren Harris (owner of Paradigm Winery), led them to purchase a small parcel with rugged, iron-rich soils above Oakville. As they delved into the challenges of constructing a resort and discovered the potential of their soil for cultivating premium grapes, the Dalla Valles altered their course. Despite facing discouragement from experts cautioning against grape planting on these demanding slopes due to the increased labor and lower yields, they tenaciously shifted gears and embraced winemaking as their new endeavor.

After Gustavos death, Naoko took the reins into her own hands and, eventually alongside her daughter Maya, continued to steer the estate towards new heights, honoring the vision set forth by Gustav.

The People Behind the Wine

Naoko Dalla Valle - Founder, Farmer, and Proprietor

Since establishing Dalla Valle Vineyards in 1986, Naoko has been the driving force propelling the winery to prominence, quietly earning acclaim as one of Napa Valley's most esteemed vintners. In her role, she has not only solidified Dalla Valle as a beloved fixture in the New World's winemaking landscape but has also cultivated a legendary status for the estate's Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. As a dedicated farmer and firm believer in the notion that exceptional wines originate in the vineyard, Naoko's hands-on approach is evident through her daily presence in the vineyard, guiding every decision with her three decades of winegrowing expertise to uphold the pinnacle of quality.

Heidi Barrett – Winemaker

One of Heidi Barrett’s most celebrated creations was the renowned "Maya" cult wine, a distinctive Cabernet blend that earned two flawless 100-point scores from the discerning palate of Robert Parker (for the '92 and '93 vintages).Simultaneously, her winemaking journey led her to Screaming Eagle in 1992, where her talent continued to shine. The wines produced under her guidance garnered two perfect 100-point scores (for the '92 vintage and the recent '97), solidifying her reputation as a maestro of crafting exquisite and highly sought-after wines.

Andy Erickson - Consulting Winemaker

Renowned winemaker Andy Erickson (Screaming Eagle, Harlan, Ovid…) joined Dalla Valle in 2007, drawn by the opportunity to work with the exceptional vineyard. Collaborating with Naoko and Maya, Erickson crafts wines that embody the unique character and complexity of Dalla Valle's terroir.

Maya Dalla Valle - Winemaker

Destined to be a winemaker from birth, Maya's connection to the vineyard runs deep. Joining the family business in 2017, Maya brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, earned through the highest form of oenological education and working at iconic wineries worldwide, such as Ornellaia e Masseto, Bodegas Rolland, Pétrus, and Château Latour.

 She officially became Dalla Valles winemaker in 2021, now crafting the next generation of magnificent wines. As the second generation, Maya is honored to carry forward the family's legacy.

The Dalla Valle Maya

Since its founding in 1986 the winery has consistently produced wines that embody the rich character and complexity of their meticulously tended vineyards. At the forefront of their portfolio is the iconic Dalla Valle Maya, named after Gustav and Naoko’s daughter Maya, a Bordeaux-style blend that reflects the family's dedication to excellence and their profound connection to the land.

RP100 on the 2002 “As stunning as this basic Cabernet Sauvignon is, the 2002 Maya, a proprietary blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Cabernet Franc, is pure perfection. It boasts an inky purple color as well as an extraordinary perfume of incense, black fruits, charcoal and forest floor. Full-bodied, with monumental intensity, a multidimensional texture/mouthfeel, and a stunning finish, this beauty reveals the brilliant quality of the Dalla Valle Cabernet Franc plantings meshed with their powerful Cabernet Sauvignon. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2040+. Despite the fact that I have given Dalla Valle’s wines fabulous reviews over the last 20 years, looking back, I seriously underrated the 2002s seven years ago. Both of these cuvees are among the superstars of this tasting. Their youthfulness, combined with their undeniable complexity and richness, is provocative.” RP Jun. 2012

RP100/JD100 on the 2018 "The very deep garnet-purple colored 2018 Maya is shy and restrained to begin. With swirling, it begins to reveal beguiling notes of fragrant earth, lavender, garrigue and Sichuan pepper, giving way to a core of wild blueberries, boysenberries, black raspberries and black currants plus a hint of iron ore. The palate is full-bodied, revealing itself in slow-releasing layers of black and blue fruits with exhilarating earth and mineral sparks, framed by firm, beautifully ripe tannins and bold freshness, finishing on a persistent ferrous note. As cerebral as it is downright hedonic, this Maya is simply jaw-dropping." LPB for WA Jan 2021

Terroir and Vineyard Management

The foundation of Maya's excellence lies in the Oakville terroir. Dalla Valle's vineyard, spanning a modest 20 acres, is an exemplar of precision farming, mirroring the care bestowed upon First Growth sites. At elevations reaching 450 feet, the vineyard strategically balances between valley floor and mountainous terrain. The western side bathes the vines in abundant sunshine, while breezes from the San Pablo Bay impart a cooling influence, preserving natural acidity in the grapes. The distinct mineral-rich volcanic soils offer ideal drainage, fostering vines that yield profoundly complex and concentrated grapes.

The vineyard's commitment to sustainability is showcased through organic farming since 2007, now transitioning to biodynamic practices. This holistic approach integrates cover crops, natural soil amendments, and meticulous care, reflecting a multigenerational ethos.

The Alchemy Behind the Wine

Guided by the skilled hands of winemaker Andy Erickson, the winemaking process for Maya is a delicate dance between tradition and innovation. Small yields, careful grape selection, and meticulous sorting precede a fermentation and aging process that takes place in French oak barrels. The result is a wine that seamlessly marries power and elegance, with a rich tapestry of flavors that evolve gracefully over time.

Global Presence - DVO Collaboration

In a noteworthy collaboration, Dalla Valle partnered with Ornellaia in Tuscany, crafting DVO from Napa Valley grapes. This venture, blending Old and New World expertise, showcases the estate's global resonance.

A Wine Transcending Generations

As Dalla Valle's story continues, it intertwines the legacies of Gustav and Naoko with the innovative spirit of Maya, creating wines that transcend generations. In every bottle, Dalla Valle invites enthusiasts to savor the elegance, complexity, and the enduring spirit of Napa Valley winemaking.

Written by: Arabella Maislinger

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