Jean Laurent, the founder of what is now called Markham Vineyards, came over from Bordeaux in the 1850s, during the heady days of the California Gold Rush. Laurent’s legacy lives on here with a loyalty to Bordeaux style blended wines. The current owners have re-invigorated this with their commitment to sustainability in the vineyards, as well as surrounding lands and waterways. 

The Altruist wine proudly proclaims it is “Sustainably Made” on its front label. It’s a smooth Merlot-based wine, a Bordeaux-style blend made with the region’s traditional grapes. I opened this bottle to honor the passing of a Bordeaux-based friend with the same name – who has nothing to do with this vineyard, however this is a lovely, Bordeaux-style way to commemorate him. 

The wine has aromas of cassis, white flowers and menthol. Tobacco and black cherry join in on the palate. There is a reasonable amount of acidity, along with tannins that are bold but not intrusive, which arrive on the end-palate and persist throughout the still-fruity finish. 

WHO: Markham Napa Valley Vineyards

WHAT: 68% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petite Verdot, 5% Malbec, 5% Cabernet Franc

WHERE: Napa Valley, California