Monday, September 30, 2019

Look To Livermore Valley For California Merlot

Murrieta's Well Estate Vineyard, in California's Livermore Valley, has a history almost as long and rich as the state of California itself.  The vines of the Murrieta's Well estate were first planted in 1884 by Louis Mel with cuttings from Chateau d'Yquem and Chateau Margaux, says the winery. 

Mel sold the property, lock, stock and wine barrel, to Ernest Wente in the 1930s, and it's still part of the Wente Family estate.  Today, winemaker Robbie Meyer personally selects grapes from all over the five hundred acres. 

He says there is "nothing quite like growing fruit in the vineyard, caring for it in the winery and crafting it into something people can enjoy."  Through the growing, the harvesting and the fermentation, Meyer says blending is where he sees the real art of winemaking.

The Murrieta's Well 2016 Small Lot Merlot was made from grapes taken out of the gravelly, coarse, sandy loam of their Sachau Vineyard, from elevations of 615 to 845 feet.  Rains that year provided more ground water for the vines than in previous few vintages.  The wine is nearly all Merlot, with a 5% dash of Cabernet Sauvignon mixed into the batch.  The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks before its was transferred to French oak barrels for a year and a half of aging.  A little more than half of the oak was new.  Only 35 barrels were made.  Alcohol tips in at 14.1% abv and the wine retails for $46.

This Merlot-heavy blend (5% Cabernet Sauvignon) has a generous nose of smoke and dark fruit.  The palate is rich with black cherry, mocha, vanilla and floral notes.  Tannins are firm enough, but the sipping is still easy.  It’s a really good, single-vineyard Merlot that deserves a hot, juicy ribeye. 

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