Brentwood’s Mandeville Vineyard – Owned by Donna Mills and Larry Gilman – Paired with Napa Valley Grille
JULY 27, 2018 BY EVEBUSHMAN
Join us for a luncheon at Napa Valley Grille with vintners Larry Gilman and Donna Mills to learn about and taste Mandeville Vineyards Wine. Larry grows grapes in Mandeville Canyon in Brentwood. He produces two wines, a Malbec/Cabernet Blend and a reserve…
So you want to make wines in the hillside of your backyard, in Mandeville Canyon, Brentwood, California? On a steep hillside, that’s been covered with thick brush for 75-100 years, untouched? And this potential vineyard happens to be behind the home of Donna Mills (yes, that Donna Mills famous from a long tenure as the star of Knots Landing) and Larry Gilman (a name you may also know from his work in the film industry as an actor and producer, and even more so for his high demand as an international speaker for his company, The Mastery Workshops) – and now you are asking are they serious?
Take a breath. It only gets better.
Mills and Gilman met at one of Gilman’s workshops, about 17 years ago. As they began their life together in Mills’ home, they also began growing their own vegetables. Soon Mills noticed that Gilman had an interest in wine and surprised him with a gift: viticulture classes at UCLA. From there, and being bit by the winemaking bug, Gilman took another look at their land and thought he could do much more than plant salad fixings. He wanted to plant grapes.
Mills said they sent soil samples to Davis and hired a geologist. And even though Gilman’s dream could possibly work, the hillside, in Mill’s opinion couldn’t and said, “I thought he was crazy!”
Gilman…wow…all I could think when he started his slide presentation was, dude, you ARE the kid in the candy store. His excitement kept building as he showed us the before, during and after pictures of all of their work: beginning with clearing the brush and creating access on an extremely steep terrain, to having to give up their first winery name “Ethereal Wines” when they received a cease and desist order from a liquor company with the same name, to finally planting Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon – in the same year they had just begun the work.
During all of this the pair organized a large seated dinner in their new vineyard for friends, which ended with each guest writing a note and attaching it to a vineyard post.
Mandeville Tasting Notes
2016 Malbec/Cabernet Blend
With aromas of juicy plum, rich earth, lots from the spice rack, as well as char, oak, mint and pine needles. Well done. Then, in the mouth, I got very big and dark flavors of black cherry, blackberry, cracked pepper, tannic and dry. Wanted to swirl this one a bit, and I ended up enjoying throughout the entire luncheon.
2016 Reserve Malbec/Cabernet Blend
Hello blueberry and blackberry, richly layered on the nose along with toasted oak, and slight hints of rose petal, sage and eucalyptus. Very welcoming. Going in for a taste I got the same rich fruit, as well as a nice balance of dried cherry and spice, with a bit of milk chocolate to seal the deal. This one was also swirl-worthy. I enjoyed revisiting both wines several times as they opened up during our 4-course meal.
Notes: These are very small production wines. They have 431 plants – 287 Malbec and 134 Cabernet, both #3309C rootstock, drought and disease resistant. Their next release should be 2020.
Winery and consulting winemaker: B. Alan Geddes, The Village Winery
Mandeville Vineyards | 2016 | | Malbec Cabernet Blend | Reserve |
Discovering new regions that produce wine might not always be fruitful, but sometimes a bottle here and there sneaks in, and that’s what makes wine fun. We spent four days with this wine, wanting to see how it progressed, and luckily for us it turned out for the better. Initial notes of raspberries, red plum, spice, savory herbs and oak. Quite tart to start out, lighter bodied on the palate. By day 4, more familiar notes of plum, dark berries and chocolate emerged, while still retaining a slightly tart mid palate. Medium tannins, acidity is good, finishes just a little hot. A good effort for wine coming from Los Angeles! Enjoy now over 5 years | 90 points | $99 |
Day 1: Raspberries, cherries, red plum, spice, savory herbs, vanilla and oak. Tart palate, medium acidity, tannins are smooth, bright on the mouthfeel. Will let it sit another day to see if it opens up any further.
Day 2: Slight more earthy characteristics, still very tart, not much of a change, a hint more of cassis and vanilla aromatics.
Day 4: Finally some dark berries, vanilla, chocolate, plum, licorice notes. A little hot on the finish. Tannins are present strangely enough. Works well with food.