Maloy O'Neill Vineyards
2005 Essere Grato
California: Paso Robles
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Mission Codename: The Expression of Gratitude
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Operative favorite, Maloy O’Neill, in Paso Robles, procure Shannon O’Neill’s outstanding 2005 Essere Grato, a superb blend of Aglianico, Sangiovese and Syrah.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Maloy O’Neill
Wine Subject: 2005 Maloy O’Neill Essere Grato, Paso Robles
Winemaker: Shannon O’Neill
Backgrounder: Paso Robles has long been established as a wine producing region that give other California regions a run for their money. With a climate and soils that make for perfect growing conditions for grapes, it is no wonder. Winemakers in Paso are a somewhat unique breed, often declaring themselves to be the renegades of Cali wine. A meeting with Shannon O’Neill, winemaker and owner of Maloy O’Neill affirms this sentiment. A warm, excited and deeply passionate man, Shannon makes wines that reflect his personality. Join Agent Red as he visits Shannon – and returns with an exclusive supply cache of Shannon’s inspiring 2005 Maloy O’Neill Essere Grato, a delicious blend of 45% Aglianico, 45% Sangiovese and 10% Syrah, for our O’Neill-loving Operatives.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Beautiful deep ruby hues with a slightly darker heart, and concentrated color out to the edge of the glass. Skinny, wine-stained legs crisscross their way down the glass after a good swirl.
Smell – Dark red candied cherry mixes with a heady blend of cedar, raspberry, blackberry, bramble, fresh fennel, earth and a hint of strawberry jam.
Feel – Initially cool and light across the front palate. Then, as fine grained tannins work their magic, a mineral-rich dryness slowly emerges, drying the cheeks and puckering the lips.
Taste – Delicious and flavor-filled with bright cherry, jammy raspberry and cranberry leading the way. These red flavors are soon joined by young strawberry, sweetwoods and subtle hints of red plum and soft mineral-rich black pepper.
Finish – Long and flavorful, leading with red fruit gradually revealing dark fruit, sweetwoods and a hint of minerals and black pepper.
Conclusion – True to its name, this wine provides much to be grateful for! The nose is one that our tasting panel found itself enjoying for a long while before ever taking a first sip. The bouquet is intriguing and layered with wonderful aromas, including a unique fresh fennel aromatic that is only present on the nose (and not the palate). Flavors are delicious, unique and luxurious. The feel is supple and balanced, and the wine drinks like a finer Chianti. The wines fine acidity makes it an easy and flexible food companion. Enjoy this wine now, with your favorite pasta dishes, antipasti or grilled meats. Way to go, Shannon! We Wine Spies are grateful to know you!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Shannon O’Neill
WINE EDUCATION: B.S. Fermentation Science, U.C.Davis
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: 1982-Present, Vice President, Vineyard Operations, O’Neill Vineyards, Paso Robles, CA; 1999-Present, President, Winemaker, Maloy O’Neill Vineyards, Paso Robles, CA; 2005- Present, Wine Production Consultant For Various Start Up Wineries on the Central Coast of California.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Making great wine while developing one on one customer relationships.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “I love making big, extracted, intense varietal character wines, and lots of them”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1999
AGENT RED: Greetings, Shannon. We are thrilled to be showing your 2005 Essere Grato today. Every time we feature your wines, our Operatives love them. You’ve become very popular among our covert wine lovers. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
SHANNON: The pleasure is all mine!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
SHANNON: I think my horticulture class in the 5th grade, started my love for growing things. That developed into growing grapes when my family purchased 180 acres in Paso Robles in 1980. My sister convinced me to go to UC Davis because they needed winemakers for the new developing wine industry in the early 1980’s. She was in her 2nd year as a Viticulture major and I had just graduated high school and had plans to take over my father’s medical practice. My efforts to get into a premed university were daunting despite my great GPA and SAT scores. My sister suggested I sign up for the Fermentation Science Program at Davis which was the exact same first two years curriculum as a premed Biology major consisting of basically, lots of math and science. She told after your second year, transferring to a pre-med school would be very easy at that point. She was right, because there were only 13 students that signed up that year, and I slid right in. The only thing she was wrong about was, once I found out how cool being a winemaker was, med school was out!
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
SHANNON: Making Cabernet Sauvignon is the Holy Grail of winemaking. Cabernet has always been the backbone of my winemaking style and the history of my wines. Thank god, O’Neill Vineyards has been a never ending supply of high quality fruit for this endeavor!
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
SHANNON: Making Cabernet Sauvignon is the Holy Grail of winemaking. Cabernet has always been the backbone of my winemaking style and the history of my wines. Our two estate vineyards has always been a source of high quality fruit for this endeavor!
RED: Who do you make wine for?
SHANNON: I am the winemaker for our two estate brands, Maloy O’Neill Vineyards and O’Neill Vineyards and have been a production consultant and have done custom crush work for many small startup wineries on the central coast.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
SHANNON: Of all the blends I made in ’05 (seven I think…), the Essere Grato is without a doubt the most unique. This was the first time I was able to
get my hands on some Aglianico, which is the native grape you would find in the same region my Great Grand-Mother (and her whole side of the family) comes from, which is Campagnia. Most people are familiar with Sangiovese, and I found these two grapes (with a kiss of Syrah to round out the mid palate) absolutely complemented each other. Both Aglianico and Sangiovese are high acid and high tannin varietals, but they offer such different fruit profiles (the Sangiovese more red fruit driven and the Aglianico more black fruit driven). When I added the Syrah, I could not believe how harmonious the wine turned out – definitely a standout among this superb vintage…
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
SHANNON: Pasta of course! This is what I call My Pizza and Pasta wine, but it pretty much goes good with everything. It goes well with turkey too!
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Paso Region so special?
SHANNON:Paso Robles is unique because of its high diurnal temperature flux and great diversity in soil make up, from area to area. In the growing season, it will be in the mid 90’s during the day and in the 50’s at night. This radical temperature flux creates a wonderful sugar/acid balance that allows the vines in Paso Robles to become physiologically mature before harvest lending to the bigger style reds coming out of the area and a big part of our wineries success. Also, Paso is home to big red wines, and unpretentious tasting rooms – where you can meet the owners and winemakers, great restaurants, inexpensive hotels and just and overall good bang for your buck.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
SHANNON: Finishing harvest, pressing out remaining lots of fermenting wines, and bottling.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
SHANNON: I make 36 different wines a year so I have a huge portfolio of many different styles and varietals to choose from. There is literally something for everyone. But if your one of those wine drinkers that like big, huge, extracted, intense varietal character reds, than you’re going to love my wines, because that is what I specialize in, and that is where my passion is! The Fremere is delicate dinner wine, that goes good with most foods, but I have many wines that are quaffing wines only, that can be served as the meal, so whatever style you like, go through the list on our website, and I promise you will find what you’re looking for!
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
SHANNON: I would just like to thank all of you for your unending support, and also the wine spies who do a wonderful job at picking wines that are unique and of interest to people who are looking for something more than what is available on the supermarket shelves. The Spies have consistently choose wines from all the different wineries they feature, that are worth checking out, and they also expose wineries who do not have worldwide distribution to and audience that might never get a chance to try new and exciting wines from small mom and pop wineries from many different regions! I welcome all of you to come to Paso Robles to see all the great things going on here, and if you do! Please visit us and say hello. For all of those who take me up on my offer, just mention you’re from the Spies and we will give you an extra discount on all wines and waive your tasting fees! Thank you again, and hope to see you soon!
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
SHANNON: Thank you and all your customers for your loyal support over the years and enjoy Maloy O’Neill wines.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Maloy O’Neill Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
About This Wine:
Essere Grato in Italian means Be Thankful or Be Grateful, and that is how we all feel at Maloy O’Neill. This is a brand new Italian blend in the Maloy O’Neill portfolio. In 2005 French Camp Vineyards in Shandon had just one and a half tons of Aglianico in their vineyard and asked if I would like to try it. Being the experimenter that I am, how could I say no? Aglianico is a very rare varietal in California with only a few acres planted throughout the state. It originated from Central Italy and is similar to Zinfandel in its flavor and profile. Aglianico has big fruity berries with thin skins and a mineral tannin structure. The 2005 Essere Grato is another style of Italian Super Tuscan. Aglianico and Sangiovese give this wine cherry, pomegranate and raspberry flavors and the Syrah gives it a more jammy profile adding some structure and ageability to the blend. This is a great appetizer wine but can also hold up to turkey, chicken and meat dishes. We expect this to be a natural choice for our Thanksgiving table. Enjoy this new wine and Essere Grato, “Be Thankful.”
About The Winery:
Maloy O’Neill Vineyards is dedicated to making the highest quality wines in limited quantities while maintaining superior one-to-one client relationships. Through this dedication, the family belives in and aspires to providing a legacy for future generations of the Maloy O’Neill Clan. Maloy O’Neill is a family owned and operated vineyard and winery located in California’s beautiful Central Coast region.
We are dedicated to producing estate-bottled varietals and site-specific wines from our vineyards and other selected vineyards in the Paso Robles area. These vineyards have consistently produced high quality, intensely fruity vintages. Premium wine handcrafted in small lots is our main focus in delivering a unique product to our consumers. Cabernet Sauvignon is our flagship variety, but other premium varietals include Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Muscat Canelli, and Malvasia Bianca.
Making Premium wines has long been the passion of winemaker, Shannon O’Neill. Years of education and experimentation have culminated in the MOV wine collection now available. Shannon is able to focus on small lot artistry utilizing modern wine technology to maximize the potential of the vineyards.The winemaker’s hard work and craftsmanship has been noticed. MOV has been quickly recognized for red wines. We have won multiple Gold and Silver medals for each of vintages from prestigious North American wine competitions.
O’Neill Vineyards has been producing high quality grapes in the Paso Robles area since 1982. We have been a local supplier of grapes for many wineries in the area, as well as wineries in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake County. What started out as a 20 acre experiment in 1982, has now grown into 150 acres planted with nine varieties. O’Neill Vineyards has always been family owned and operated, dedicated to producing only the highest quality fruit for our wines and those who buy our fruit. Cabernet Sauvignon is why O’Neill Vineyards has become so well known, but we also currently grow Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Chardonnay, Muscat Canelli, and Malvasia Bianca.
The vineyard site consists of over 180 acres, with vines spread across several different soil types and microclimates. Although it has taken years of fine-tuning, many improvements have been made in the vineyard to maximize these different conditions. In 1997 we switched to a vertical shoot position trellis system, and employed canopy management techniques such as leaf, shoot, and cluster thinning to reduce yields and open up the canopy. Soil and water management has also become a top priority. Paso Robles area soils commonly need annual amendments and pH adjustments in order to maintain proper nutrient uptake and overall vine health. The result has been a dramatic increase in quality reflected in the wines from these grapes. There is also a five-acre experimental vineyard on the property, dedicated to varietal, rootstalk, and clonal experimentation. The grapes from these vines are used for small-scale winemaking experiments as well.
Varietals: 45% Aglianico, 45% Sangiovese, 10% Syrah
Production: 200 Cases