Showing posts with label Livermore Valley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Livermore Valley. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Livermore Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Wente Vineyards is the country's oldest continuously operated family-owned winery.  It is now run by the family's 4th and 5th-generations.  A French Chardonnay cutting planted in 1912 gave the world a new clone of the grape, which is now used to make 80% of America's Chardonnay.

Today, we are looking at what Wente has done with Cabernet Sauvignon.  The Wente 2018 Livermore Valley Cab is the wine we are tasting on this web page.  It is a single-vineyard Cabernet, from the Charles Wetmore Vineyard.  Wetmore was responsible for bringing many cuttings from Bordeaux to the Livermore Valley.   The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks, then aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 40% of which were new.  Alcohol tips in at 14% abv and it retails for $35.

This wine is extremely dark in the glass and offers a nose to match.  Blackberry aromas are laced with cedar, vanilla, clove and tobacco.  The palate is dark, too, and rich.  The fruit flavors are in the front while savory notes complement them.  There is a rustic feel, and the tannins are firm.  


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Monday, October 28, 2019

BDX Grapes Right At Home In Livermore Valley

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."  That something, says Snooth, is food-friendly wine, the stuff of which Meyer prides himself on making.  Through the growing, the harvesting and the fermentation, Meyer says blending is where he sees the real art of winemaking.

All of the Bordeaux varieties used in the 2017 Murrieta's Well The Spur were largely grown in the Sachau vineyard, where the soils consist of mostly gravelly, coarse sandy loam.  A portion of the Cab came from the Louis Mel Vineyard, while the Petite Sirah grew in the Hayes Vineyard.  The percentages look like this:  64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 14% Petite Sirah and 9% Petit Verdot.

Meyer calls The Spur a "survey of the property."  He says the PS adds deliciousness and fleshes out the juiciness of the blend.  He put it under cork rather than a screwcap "due mainly to aesthetics."
The Spur was fermented in steel and aged for 24 months in French oak, 40% new, 40% second use, and 20% third use.  Alcohol tips in at 14.5% abv and the wine retails for $35.

The Spur has a nose that won't quit.  Plum, blackberry and black cherry aromas are as dark as the wine's color.  Whiffs of leather, anise and mocha layer onto the fruit.  The palate follows suit, with earth notes and a wonderful tannic structure and acidity to boot. 


Friday, October 4, 2019

This Muscat Is No Sweetie

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."  That something, says Snooth, is food-friendly wine, the stuff of which Meyer prides himself.  Through the growing, the harvesting and the fermentation, Meyer says blending is where he sees the real art of winemaking.

The 2018 Murrieta's Well Dry Orange Muscat is not a dessert wine.  Made from Hayes Vineyard grapes, Meyer says the wine exhibits the wide variety of soils and elevations found in that parcel. The 2018 vintage was warm with no heat spikes, which allowed for a lengthy hang time.  The grapes had plenty of sunshine to bring out their floral aspects.  Meyer says the decision to make a dry wine from Orange Muscat grapes was partially influenced by the fact that the grape variety is typically low-yielding, both in quantity and berry size.  By the way, he says the "orange" in the grape's name comes from its coloring at harvest.  The wine was steel-fermented and aged for three months.  Alcohol is quite ripe at 14.6% abv and the retail price tag reads $38.

This wine has beautiful floral notes, and considering the grape, one might think a dessert wine is in the glass, or maybe an Albariño or Gewurztraminer.  That's not happening, though.  This Orange Muscat is completely dry.  The palate shows lime notes in an orange-laced and wonderfully acidic setting.  Bring on the shellfish.


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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Dry Rose For Fall

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."  That something, says Snooth, is food-friendly wine, the stuff of which Meyer prides himself with making.  Through the growing, the harvesting and the fermentation, Meyer says blending is where he sees the real art of winemaking.

The grapes for the 2018 Murrieta's Well Dry Rosé was made from Livermore Valley fruit - 42% Counoise, 33% Grenache, 25% Mourvèdre - pulled from their estate vineyards, Hayes and Raboli.  Those grapes were grown, picked and fermented specifically for rosé.  The fruit was whole-cluster pressed, vinified in stainless steel tanks and aged in them for two months. 

Meyer said during a recent Snooth virtual tasting event that he loves Grenache for rosé.  He feels that Counoise mates with Grenache perfectly.  He accentuates the fruit-forward aspect of the grapes in this pink wine.  He calls it a "substantial" rosé, one to be paired with food which is heftier than a salad.  He's thinking of butternut squash and other autumn vegetables.  The wine has alcohol at 13.5% abv and it retails for $32.

Fresh strawberries and cherries burst forth from the nose, with more of the same on the palate. The acidity is fresh and vibrant.  This pale salmon rosé comes at the end of "rosé season," but hang onto a bottle or two for Thanksgiving.  It is substantial enough for fall veggies, or turkey.


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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. 


Friday, August 23, 2019

Worlds Collide In Livermore Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Winemaker Robbie Meyer took to Snooth some months ago to discuss the latest vintages from Murrieta's Well, in California's Livermore Valley, including a Sauvignon Blanc that knocked off my socks.

The vines of the Murrieta's Well estate vineyards 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, 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.

Murrieta's Well Sauvignon Blanc 2017

This 100% Sauvignon Blanc wine from California's Livermore Valley was fermented in neutral French oak, aged there sur lie for four months.  Alcohol tips at 14.2% abv and it retails for $35.  Thirty barrels were produced.

The wine offers a nose of soft herbal notes and a floral accent, a sort of old-world-new-world combo.  On the palate, there is a ton of acidity along with an ocean of salinity.  The citrus and mineral flavors linger long after the sip. 


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Friday, February 8, 2019

Wente: First Family Of CA Chardonnay

Wente Vineyards in the Livermore Valley changed California Chardonnay forever.  The grape clone which is used to make 80% of American Chardonnay is here thanks to Wente.  In 1912, German immigrant C.H. Wente planted a cutting from from the vine nursery at France's University of Montpellier.  That Chardonnay plant became the Wente clone of the grape.  The Wente family was the first in California to produce a varietally labeled Chardonnay in 1936 made from their heritage Wente clones.

To get a bit geeky, In viticulture a "clone" refers to vines descended from a single plant by taking a cutting or bud.  Each vine grown on a clone is said to be genetically identical to the original vine.

Wente is the country's oldest continuously operated family-owned winery, now run by the family's 4th and 5th-generations.  A virtual tasting event was hosted recently by the family historian, Phil Wente, and winegrower Niki Wente, who walked a group of virtual tasters through five different styles of their line, which defines California Chardonnay.

The 2016 Morning Fog Chardonnay from Wente is made nearly completely from estate-grown Chardonnay grapes, with a 2% splash of Gewürztraminer to sweeten the mix.  The wine was fermented half in neutral American oak barrels and half in stainless steel tanks.  The oak provides hints of vanilla and enhances the mouthfeel while the steel preserves its fruit flavors.  Aging took place over five months sur lie, or in contact with the spent yeast cells, stirred monthly and adding a creaminess to the wine.  Half of the steel portion was racked with no aging.   Alcohol content is restrained at 13.5% abv. 

The name of Morning Fog not surprisingly references the coastal blanket pushed by Pacific winds into the bowl of the San Francisco Bay and lured inland by Livermore Valley's traverse, or east- west, orientation.  The wine sells for $18.

This yellow-gold wine rings the "old-style Cali" bell in all the right ways.  A nose of apricots, mangoes and apples is helped along with the smell of buttered popcorn.  Oak treats the palate as well, draping over the tropical fruit like a sunshade.  The acidity is zesty, yet the mouthfeel tends toward creaminess due to the wine sitting on the lees for five months.  The oak is a definite part of the wine, but the effect is softened enough so that it's a pleasure, not a pain.



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Monday, December 31, 2018

Livermore Valley Cab That Rocks It

Winemaker Robbie Meyer took to Snooth awhile back to discuss the latest vintages from Murrieta's Well, in California’s Livermore Valley, including a small lot Cabernet Sauvignon that was pre-release at the time.  It's now available, but likely won't be for long due to the small production.

The vines of the Murrieta's Well estate vineyards were first planted in 1884 by Louis Mel with cuttings from the notable Chateau d’Yquem and Chateau Margaux properties, 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, 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 2015 Murrieta's Well Cabernet Sauvignon hails from one of California's lesser-heralded wine regions, the Livermore Valley.  It's 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec, clocking in at 14.2% abv.  The wine got stainless steel fermentation and 18 months aging in French oak, 80% new, 20% second and third use.  Only  27 barrels were produced, and it was released in the fall at $58 retail.

The grapes are estate grown, in their Sachau Vineyard right behind the winery's tasting room.  Some of the Cab came from their Louis Mel Vineyard. 

This is an extremely dark wine with plenty to offer on the nose and palate.  Aromas of cassis are joined by cedar, anise, vanilla and a bit of mint.  The flavors are explosive, with blackberries and cherries prominent, savory spice and a zippy acidity to frame the firm tannins.  It's a steak wine, really, but it goes well with stew or chili, too.


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Dry Rosé - From Livermore Valley

Winemaker Robbie Meyer took to Snooth recently to discuss the latest vintages from Murrieta's Well, in California's Livermore Valley.

The vines of the Murrieta's Well estate vineyards 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, 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.

He sat in with a group of invited wine writers and helped us sip through the Murrieta's Well Sauvignon Blanc, dry rosé, white and red blends and a pre-release of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Murrieta's Well Dry Rosé 2017

This pink wine was made from LIvermore Valley grapes, 42% Grenache, 39% Counoise and 19% Mourvèdre, all grown specifically for rosé.  The alcohol is easy, at 13.5% abv.  They made a couple thousand cases of it and sell it for $30 a bottle.  Stainless steel vinification and 2 months aging make for a clean and fresh wine.

This rosé is a vibrant salmon pink in the glass.  Its nose offers cherries, strawberries and a savory touch of lanolin.  Red fruit dominates on the palate along with a side of herbal notes, like the greens of the berries.  The acidity is just enough, almost silky, in fact.  The wine will pair quite nicely with fish or a salad of any sort.


Friday, July 13, 2018

The Whip - Livermore Valley White Wine Blend

Winemaker Robbie Meyer took to Snooth recently to discuss the latest vintages from Murrieta's Well, in California's Livermore Valley.

The vines of the Murrieta's Well estate vineyards 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, 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.

He sat in with a group of invited wine writers and helped us sip through the Murrieta's Well Sauvignon Blanc, dry rosé, white and red blends and a pre-release of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Murrieta's Well The Whip 2016

The Whip starts out as a Bordeaux Blanc, but bends toward the Rhône about halfway through.  The grapes are a fairly even split of five estate-grown varieties - 33% Sauvignon Blanc, 24% Semillon, 21% Chardonnay, 12% Orange Muscat and 10% Viognier.  The wine's alcohol level rests comfortably at 13.5% abv, 297 barrels produced and the retail price is $26.

A portion of the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc were fermented in oak to give them extra roundness. Then, 14 months aging in barrels added even more softness.

The wine looks pale gold in the glass, with green shadings showing.  Its nose is a mixture of orange blossoms, apricots, light grass and earth notes.  The palate offers lovely stone fruit and citrus.  The flavors are pleasing and the acidity is easily racy enough for a salad or egg dish.  In fact, I think having it with Sunday brunch would be perfect.  The grapes here are Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay, Orange Muscat and Viognier, so it's a real vineyard party in a glass.



Monday, May 28, 2018

Wente Vineyards Chardonnay

If you love Chardonnay, you probably love Wente Vineyards, and you may not know it.  The grape clone which is used to make 80% of American Chardonnay is here thanks to Wente.  In 1912, German immigrant C.H. Wente planted a cutting from from the vine nursery at France's University of Montpellier.  That Chardonnay plant became the Wente clone of the grape.

To get a bit geeky, In viticulture a "clone" refers to vines descended from a single plant by taking a cutting or bud.  Each vine grown on a clone is said to be genetically identical to the original vine.

Wente is the country's oldest continuously operated family-owned winery, now run by the family's 4th and 5th-generations.  A virtual tasting event was hosted recently by the family historian, Phil Wente, and winegrower Niki Wente, who walked us through five different styles of their line that defined California Chardonnay.  You can visit that experience here.

Wente's Celebratory Chardonnay celebrates 135 years of making wine.  2018 marks that accomplishment, and they've come a long way since 1883.  It's 100% Central Coast Chardonnay which is sourced from their estate vineyards in the Livermore Valley and the Arroyo Seco AVA in Monterey County.  Karl Wente made a thousand cases of the wine, which clocks alcohol at 13.8% and retails for $40.

The wine was fermented both in barrels and stainless steel, with the barrel lots receiving malolactic fermentation for a full, rich mouthfeel.  It was aged for 16 months in a combination of new and neutral American and French oak.  They stirred the lees a couple times a month.

This Chardonnay comes on big and bold, sporting a nose of apples, peaches and oak.  The mouthfeel is creamy, but the acidity still zips.  Wood dominates the flavor profile, too, but if you're in the mood for it, it hits the spot.  Behind the oak lies stone fruit, pineapple and citrus flavors.  The finish carries the memory of those barrels quite a distance.


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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Wente Celebrates Chardonnay Day With Online Tasting Event

Tomorrow, May 24th 2018, is Chardonnay Day, and Wente Vineyards in California's Livermore Valley is putting together an online wine tasting to mark the evening.  It's a Brandlive event (5pm PT, 8pm ET) which will feature five different styles of Chardonnay made by the winery that literally changed California Chardonnay forever.

In 1912, German immigrant C.H. Wente planted a cutting from from the vine nursery at France's University of Montpellier.  That Chardonnay plant became the Wente clone of the grape, which is reportedly used to make 80% of American Chardonnay.

To get a bit geeky, In viticulture a "clone" refers to vines descended from a single plant by taking a cutting or bud.  Each vine grown on a clone is said to be genetically identical to the original vine.

Wente is the country's oldest continuously operated family-owned winery, now run by the family's 4th and 5th-generations.  The virtual tasting event is to be hosted by the family historian, Phil Wente, and winegrower Niki Wente, who will walk us through the different styles of their Chardonnay line.

Wente 135th Anniversary Celebratory Chardonnay 2016

Wente's Celebratory Chardonnay celebrates 135 years of making wine.  2018 marks that accomplishment, and they've come a long way since 1883.  It's 100% Central Coast Chardonnay which is sourced from their estate vineyards in the Livermore Valley and the Arroyo Seco AVA in Monterey County.  Karl Wente made a thousand cases of the wine, which clocks alcohol at 13.8% and retails for $40.

The wine was fermented both in barrels and stainless steel, with the barrel lots receiving malolactic fermentation for a full, rich mouthfeel.  It was aged for 16 months in a combination of new and neutral American and French oak.  They stirred the lees a couple times a month..

This Chardonnay comes on big and bold, sporting a nose of apples, peaches and oak.  The mouthfeel is creamy, but the acidity still zips.  Wood dominates the flavor profile, too, but if you're in the mood for it, it hits the spot.  Behind the oak lies stone fruit, pineapple and citrus flavors.  The finish carries the memory of those barrels quite a distance.



Monday, September 18, 2017

Murrieta's Well "The Spur" Red Blend

Murrieta's Well is a Wente property in California's Livermore Valley. They take great pride in being one of the Golden State's "original wine estates." The property was founded in the late 19th century, with cuttings from the Chateau d'Yquem and Chateau Margaux in France. The place was bought in 1933 by Ernest Wente. In 1990, Philip Wente and Sergio Traverso "partnered together to revive the winery." Winemaker Robbie Meyer does a great job of turning the fruit entrusted to him into magnificent wines that tell the story of the land.

A virtual event recently put Murrieta’s Well into an online tasting session, which is documented here. My thanks to those involved in putting on the show for inviting me and providing samples to taste.

Murrieta's Well "The Spur" Red Blend Livermore Valley 2014

The Spur is made from five mostly Bordeaux-born grape varieties. It's a mix of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Petite Sirah, 14% Petit Verdot, 10% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc, all grown in their Livermore estate vineyards. They say they blended "the classic Bordeaux varietals with Petite Sirah to create a distinctly Livermore Valley fruit expression."

The wine was vinified in steel, then aged for 24 months in French oak, half of which was new. Only 207 barrels were made. Alcohol hits low, at 13.5% abv and it retails for $30.

The Spur is medium-dark in the glass and offers up a beautiful nose that is defined by its aging process. Vanilla spice and cigar box notes keep the cherry-red fruit flavors disguised well. The palate is a savory splash of herbs, fruit and spice. As in the aroma profile, red fruit takes a back seat but never has to shout, "down in front!" There's a hint of tartness that lines up perfectly with the bounty of flavor in this wine. A firm tannic structure adds purpose to pleasure.


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Monday, September 11, 2017

Murrieta's Well: Livermore Valley Cabernet Franc

Murrieta's Well is a Wente property in California's Livermore Valley. They take great pride in being one of the Golden State's "original wine estates." The property was founded in the late 19th century, with cuttings from the Chateau d'Yquem and Chateau Margaux in France. The place was bought in 1933 by Ernest Wente. In 1990, Philip Wente and Sergio Traverso "partnered together to revive the winery." Winemaker Robbie Meyer does a great job of turning the fruit entrusted to him into magnificent wines that tell the story of the land.

A virtual event recently put Murrieta's Well into an online tasting session, which is documented here. My thanks to those involved in putting on the show for inviting me and providing samples to taste.


Murrieta's Well Livermore Valley Cabernet Franc 2014

The wine is made from estate grapes grown in California's Livermore Valley, in the Sachau vineyard - 88% Cabernet Franc with a 6% splash each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Vinification was done in steel tanks, while the three parts were aged separately for ten months in French oak barrels. The vintage was marked by drought and the resulting lower yield from the vines produced small, concentrated grapes.

Twenty barrels of this wine was produced, and it's all sold out, according to their website. It carries its alcohol at 14.1% abv and the retail price was $58, when it was in stock.

The 2014 Murrieta's Well Livermore Valley Cabernet Franc is big, brawny, dark and deep. Inky indigo in appearance, the nose shows dark fruit and a tarry edge that carries tobacco and spice. Flavors run to the dark side as well, with blackberry and plums shrouded in forest floor. The structure is great, with firm tannins and juicy acidity.


Friday, July 7, 2017

Surprising White Wine From The Livermore Valley

Murrieta's Well is a Wente property in California's Livermore Valley. They take great pride in being one of the Golden State's "original wine estates." The property was founded in the late 19th century, with cuttings from the Chateau d'Yquem and Chateau Margaux in France. The place was bought in 1933 by Ernest Wente. In 1990, Philip Wente and Sergio Traverso "partnered together to revive the winery." Winemaker Robbie Meyer does a great job of turning the fruit entrusted to him into magnificent wines that tell the story of the land.

A virtual event recently put Murrieta's Well into an online tasting session, which is documented here. My thanks to those involved in putting on the show for inviting me and providing samples to taste.

Small Lot Livermore Valley Muscat Canelli 2016

The Muscat Canelli grapes for this wine were grown in the Hayes Vineyard portion of the estate. The winery says that plot features a wide array of soils and elevations. The wine was vinified in stainless steel tanks, with five months aging in same. 2016 was the fourth drought vintage in a row for those grapes, and the concentration of the fruit shows the struggle the vines went through. Only 150 cases were made, at 14.2% abv, and they advise that a couple years of waiting will reveal a wine with even more body. The body it has right now ain't bad at all. It sells for $35.

The wine comes on like a basket of flowers and Meyer lemons on the nose. The palate veers away from "sweet" and heads toward "minerals," though, with a nice streak of acidity ripping through it. Summer's here. Lobster, crab, oysters, bring 'em on.


Monday, July 3, 2017

Livermore Valley: Whipping Up A Wonderful White

Murrieta's Well is a Wente property in California's Livermore Valley. They take great pride in being one of the Golden State's "original wine estates." The property was founded in the late 19th century, with cuttings from the Chateau d'Yquem and Chateau Margaux in France. The place was bought in 1933 by Ernest Wente. In 1990, Philip Wente and Sergio Traverso "partnered together to revive the winery." Winemaker Robbie Meyer does a great job of turning the fruit entrusted to him into magnificent wines that tell the story of the land.

A virtual event recently featured Murrieta's Well into an online tasting session, which is documented here. My thanks to Snooth and all those involved in putting on the show for inviting me and providing samples to taste.

The Whip White Wine Blend 2015

This white is 30% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Semillon, 30% Chardonnay, 7% Viognier and a splash of Muscat Canelli, all grown in the Murrieta's Well Livermore Valley estate vineyard. The wine has 13.5% abv and sells for $24.

They say they look each vintage for aromatics and food-friendly freshness. They certainly found them in this edition of The Whip. Here's what the winery writes about how the wine is crafted. "A small portion of the Chardonnay and the Sauvignon Blanc were fermented in small oak barrels over the course of approximately two weeks to add a roundness to the blend. The remaining Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as the Semillon, Viognier, and Muscat Canelli were fermented cold in stainless steel tanks as individual components for approximately three weeks. This maintains the wine's natural acidity and vibrant freshness."

The nose features a complex mix of honeysuckle, Meyer lemon and sweet peach. A stirring acidity frames citrus, minerals and nectarines in a food-friendly canvas that’s ready for spring and summer salads. If you’re snacking, it hits a walnut just right.


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Friday, June 30, 2017

Livermore Valley: Dry Rosé From Murrieta's Well

Murrieta's Well is a Wente property in California's Livermore Valley. They take great pride in being one of the Golden State's "original wine estates." The property was founded in the late 19th century, with cuttings from the Chateau d'Yquem and Chateau Margaux in France. The place was bought in 1933 by Ernest Wente. In 1990, Philip Wente and Sergio Traverso "partnered together to revive the winery." Winemaker Robbie Meyer does a great job of turning the fruit entrusted to him into magnificent wines that tell the story of the land.

A virtual event recently featured Murrieta's Well into an online tasting session, which is documented here. My thanks to Snooth and all those involved in putting on the show for inviting me and providing samples to taste.

Murrieta's Well Estate Vineyard Dry Rose 2016

The pink wine is 55% Grenache and 45% Counoise, so Rhônophiles can get their geek on here. Both varieties were cold-fermented separately and blended after about two months in the tanks. Alcohol hits a bit higher than in most Rhônezays, at 14.1% abv. The wine retails for $30. If that seems a tad high for a pink wine, just remember that you get what you pay for. More, even, in this case.

This rosé strikes a lovely pose in the glass, all salmon pink and lightly tinted. Its nose give plenty of fresh strawberries and raspberries with some green stems thrown in and bit of earth as well. The ripe red fruit really shines on the palate and the zippy acidity is refreshing. The grapes, Grenache and Counoise, really make a very Provençal pinkie.


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Friday, May 13, 2016

Pushing Pedals: Cycles Gladiator Merlot

Great label. The Lady on the Bicycle is an homage to women's freedom during the Belle Epoque, when bicycle sales in France flourished prompted by the suffrage movement. Susan B. Anthony noted that bicycles gave women the ability to leave the home to work and vote. Cycles was just one bicycle company that “plastered Paris with posters” depicting free and liberated women on bikes au naturel.

Winemaker Adam LaZarre says he grew up in New York’s Finger Lakes area, but not until a U.S. Navy stint in Seattle did he get the wine bug. He started Cycles Gladiator in 2005. LaZarre’s creative tasting notes brought forth some online comment, and he tweeted that he used to write them while drinking tequila. "I don’t do that anymore," he wrote, "I changed to bourbon."

LaZarre calls this "little Merlot monster" a "fruit-driven cherry bomb of a wine." The alcohol is fairly restrained, at just 13.9% abv.  The fruit was nearly all grown in the Livermore Valley, and there are smidges of Cabernat Sauvignon and Syrah in it.  It was aged for 16 months in French and American oak.

The nose of the Cycles Gladiator Central Coast Merlot 2014 gives off a telltale funk, belying the Syrah, especially after a few days open. The fruit is dark and moody and there are notes of spice and a sweet smell, like burnt caramel, on the nose. The sip is powerful, belligerent fruit and brawny tannins, so don’t be shy. Cook a big, dirty steak and throw it on a plate next to a glass of this.