Monday, October 10, 2011


Maier Family Meritage

Richard Maier always shows up at the big tent sale at Wally’s in Los Angeles to personally sell his wine.  He’s there by the stack of cases - pouring, talking, autographing bottles, talking, pouring some more - all in an effort to let another city full of wine buyers know not only how good his wine is, but what a great deal it is.

The Maier Family Meritage produced at St Helena Road Winery is a Bordeaux blend of 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 5% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot, “grown high in the Sonoma County mountains,” according to the back label.  This single vineyard beauty was produced in a quantity of only 43 barrels, and is aged for 20 months in that French oak.  Its retail price was $34 earlier this year, and I bought it at Wally’s tent sale for the screaming deal of $23.

After unscrewing the cap and pouring a glassful, the juicy aromas immediately come forward.

Currant, blackberry, a beautiful herbal underlay all jump right into the nostrils and start shifting the olfactory gears.  The aromas are mesmerizing.  The very dark fruit blends seamlessly with that herbal element.

Big tannins and graphite are set off by a strong minerality.  There’s a greenness on the palate,too, which matches that on the nose.

The wine is probably a bit young yet.  The tannins are quite forceful, and don’t really settle down as a couple of hours pass.  Perhaps due to the tightly sealed screw cap, the second night showed much the same aggressiveness.  On the third night I enjoyed this Meritage, I got sneaky and unscrewed the cap the night before.  Now, a note of tar appears on the nose and the tannins are more manageable, but still quite firm.  The green, herbal quality on the palate now takes a back seat to the driving force of the big, juicy, dark fruit.  On the finish, notes of chocolate remain.

Do yourself a favor and decant this wine for quite a while before drinking it.  You’ll be glad you did.

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