2015 Maybach Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Amoenus

Cabernet Sauvignon

  • USA
  • California
  • Napa Valley

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Community Tasting Note

  • csimm1161 wrote: 97 points

    November 9, 2018 - Exhibiting beautifully brooding and complex flavors of black, purple, and dark red core fruit, the 2015 Amoenus kicks out notes of deep, dark black cherry, wild blackberry, black soil, black olive, clove, and bitter chocolate.

    Decanted for a total of two hours at around 50 degrees, this wine was far less sweet and backward than the 2015 Materium in its current state. The Amoenus has a nice dark streak shooting through it, which helped to maintain focus and provide lift to the gorgeously pure fruit. This is not atypical of Amoenus, as I find this wine versus the Materium to generally be the less bombastic ripe fruit-wise of the two (the cooler site is likely a contributing factor here).

    For 2015, the Amoenus is the favored wine for me at the moment. The Materium just needs some extra time in bottle in my opinion. As for the Amoenus, it is drinking surprisingly well right out of the gate. Some decanted air at a cooler temperature helped elevate its display of complex, layered flavors; however, another year to truly settle into itself might do wonders. A great showing!

    4 people found this helpful 4,068 views


  • TXRDW commented:

    1/30/19, 7:55 AM - Another great note, CSIMM! I just found out yesterday, much to my surprise, that I finally got on the Maybach mailing list. I ordered my allocation of the Materium and I am now wondering if I should update my order with my allocation of the Amoenus. I’d appreciate your thoughts as I’m new to Maybach. Thanks.

  • csimm1161 commented:

    1/30/19, 9:48 AM - Hi TXRDW. The Amoenus is an interesting animal. Each vintage is fairly unique and it's a little hard to peg down exactly what it'll behave like on any given year. In 2014, the Materium is a clear standout over the Amoenus for me. However, in 2015 it is the exact opposite. The 2015 Amoenus is far superior to the Materium for my palate at this given juncture. Of course that can all change as the wines evolve, but the 2015 Materium has a ripe sweetness that makes it currently seem less focused than the utterly complex 2015 Amoenus.

    I had the 2014 Amoenus the other day and it was good, but nowhere near the levels of the 2015. The 2014 Materium's ripeness is counterbalanced better with its mid-palate depth and overall intensity to push the flavors forward. The 2014 Amoenus was a bit flat mid-palate in its current state (though I'm confident that'll improve over time). So what will the 2016 Amoenus be like? I honestly can't say for certain.

    In the end, I would say that the Amoenus is generally more earthy (and sometimes a bit funky) when compared to the flamboyantly ripe fruit of the Materium. TRB seems to hold off on picking the Weitz fruit pretty late for the Materium, which can give it a slightly sweet raisin/black currant quality (compared to the Carter Weitz for example - picked earlier, redder profile, higher acid). The Amoenus exhibits tar, olive, and soil notes that the Materium doesn't seem to show as much (if at all).

    Lastly, I will say the Materium is certainly the wine to buy direct from Maybach (aftermarket is higher). Ameonus is around the same direct vs. aftermarket (and is usually available after release in various wine shops). I think buying direct makes sense with this label, especially in 2016 with the Amoenus. I'd personally get some if I were you (I did!). Additionally, if you care about pro scores, LPB rated the 2016 Amoenus 97-100 points, and she seems to favor the Amoenus to the Materium in 2016. And in 2015, she rated the Amoenus higher than the Materium again (98 vs 97+). Of course, Jeb Dunnuck rated the 2016 Materium 97-100 and Amoenus 97-99. Splitting hairs of course, but I suppose it depends on what you value input-wise from the "pros."

    That's a really long way of answering you (apologies for all the information)... I'd pick up a few bottles of 2016 Amoenus. I think you'll find them not only good wines on their own, but an interesting contrast to the Materium.

  • TXRDW commented:

    1/30/19, 10:36 AM - Thanks, CSIMM for such detailed feedback. I just ordered 4 bottles Amoenus, bringing my total to 10 including the Materium. My wallet is definitely a little lighter, but I had been waiting a few years to get on their mailing list. I consider you my CT mentor of sorts as I am relatively new to this. I have taken your advice on Carter, Bevan, VV and now Maybach and your insight has been invaluable. I’m now up to about as many lists as I can handle at 12, so now the tough part is about to start as I’ll likely start dropping one for every new one added. Not sure how you handle this issue as it seems tough.

  • csimm1161 commented:

    1/30/19, 4:19 PM - As far as allocation lists go, I have a few things I consider when deciding to stay or drop a list. Here’s a few off the top of my head:

    1. I could drop every list I’m on today and not lose any sleep over it. Once I remind myself of that, any pressure to add/drop a list goes away. This is a luxury item and part of the hospitality business. As such, this is purely a hobby for me; so if it starts to bum me out, or a certain winery falls behind the pack, I can walk away from it and certainly find something much cheaper to involve myself in (I don’t mean to seem negative about it. I clearly LOVE this hobby. I’m very passionate about it. But it is just that... a hobby).

    2. There’s a lot of good wine out there. If I drop a list, I may not be able to get some secret special wine anymore without paying a hefty tariff in the aftermarket, but I’m ok with that. If I want it that bad, I’d rather pay the tariff than stay on a list that falls behind be pack overall or makes me jump through hoops to get their special wine.

    3. I don’t like lists that choose what wines I have to buy. Customizable allocation systems generally are all I’ll involve myself in. Options are important. If I’m expected to buy every wine a winery produces, I feel cornered. If I have to buy lesser wines to get to the real wine I want, I’d just assume not be a part of that list. I don’t like that tactic. I understand and respect seniority on a list, but at this point, I refuse to buy wine I don’t like for any reason.

    4. Customer service is EVERYTHING. Wineries that are snooty, unresponsive (so many are flakey these days it seems), or act like you are lucky to be on their lists are instant turn-offs. From a customer standpoint, the whole “kiss the ring” dynamic with some wineries is awful. I wouldn’t go to a 3 Star Michelin restaurant, drop $1,500 on a meal, and be ok with being treated like garbage. Same principle applies with wine (be it allocations, ordering/purchasing, tastings, or any contact I have with them). I’m not looking to be treated like royalty, but it is amazing to me how unresponsive and rude some houses can be even after you’ve spent thousands of dollars on their product.

    5. QPR is always important, especially when buying DIRECT. If you can find a wine in the aftermarket for less, then why bother with a mailing list. I don’t want to be on an allocation list for the privilege; I want to be on the list to buy their wine and drink it. I don’t care about release parties or winemaker dinners or fancy wood boxes as carrots for staying on a list. I like those things sometimes, but again, I don’t need them and am not enticed by them. Also, up-charging each vintage is an issue. Any winery who feels comfortable gouging their customers each year with $50 a bottle increase each year (especially cuz they pop a WA100 point score of something) is a no-go for me.

    6. Nowadays I tend to follow winemakers and sites first. For example, BTK, LPV, and Crane are sites (for domestic Cabs) I am drawn to. Also, once I find a winemaker I like style-wise who pulls fruit from the sites I love, I tend to follow what they are up to. That said, even my favorite winemakers make wines I don’t care for. Again, if they make wines I like, I seek those lists out. If that list makes me buy the wine I don’t like to get to the one(s) I do, I don’t bother with it.

    7. Wineries that are pro score chasers are problematic. Everyone likes nice scores, but those who adjust their styles to try to cater to some pro scorer are just chasing shadows, and their juice usually suffers for it. Consistency vintage after vintage is key and shows a stability and confidence in a winemaker that I feel I can trust.

    8. Careful of winemakers who spread themselves too thin. This doesn’t mean those winemakers aren’t making great juice. It’s just something to look out for and try to determine how much time the featured “celebrity” winemaker actually spends on THAT wine. You’ll find the Assistant Winemaker is really the one making the wine sometimes. For example, TRB has something like 45+ ventures. Some I love; some I feel are not my jam. He is a brilliant winemaker no doubt, but some wines just don’t cut the mustard for me. Others are fabulous. Some of that also has to do with the proprietor’s influence on the winemaker.

    9. Do the research. Follow CT, Wine Berserkers, Delectable, WA, JD, whatever.... there’s so much info out there on these houses and their wines. If you’re spending thousands of dollars on these wine allocation purchases, you owe it to yourself to spend your money wisely and on people who produce a good product, are fiscally responsive to the customer, and are just plain ‘ol nice people.

    10. Have fun. As with #1, the minute you start feeling burdened by an allocation list, it’s time to move on.

    So there it is. I didn’t expect this to be a “Top 10,” but that’s how it ended up! :)

  • TXRDW commented:

    1/30/19, 9:05 PM - Thanks CSIMM, your top 10 list is very insightful. This is definitely an interesting hobby in that the decision making isn’t always linear. For instance in Houston at times I can get wines below the direct price, which is annoying. But on the other hand given the extreme heat in Texas and the uncertainty of how the wine was stored and transported, I’m willing to pay a premium for the provenance of a wine that I might not consume for many years. One of my pet peeves about this hobby is that many of these mailing lists require some sort of annual purchase in order to keep the allotment. My preference with some vineyards would be to make alternate year purchases so as to be able to support more vineyards. In any case I do appreciate the time you must have put in to answering some of my questions. I’ll continue to look forward to enjoying your notes and comments.

  • csimm1161 commented:

    1/30/19, 9:58 PM - Ah yes the provenance is a key factor as well... and if it is compromised, any good winery will replace it.

    Anyway, happy hunting and thanks for your insight! Much appreciated!

  • Wubai commented:

    2/16/19, 12:52 PM - Didn’t make it off the waitlist this year. But I just picked up a bottle of this on auction at K&l.always enjoy reading your notes.

  • csimm1161 commented:

    2/16/19, 2:37 PM - Hi Wubai. Hope you have as good an experience as I've had with this particular wine. The 2015 is the best vintage of Amoenus I've had to date - in my opinion. Enjoy!

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