Etude Wines

2006 GBR Estate Red

Red Blend •Grace Benoist Ranch

California: Sonoma County: Carneros

Offer Expired:Mar 04, 2010 at 11:59 pm
Avg. Price

What We Say


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Today’s wine carries one of the highest QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) ratings we have had the pleasure to enjoy. Due to our superior sleuthing skills, we are able to bring you a limited quantity of this wine at what is, frankly, an amazing price


Today’s selection from Etude is truly a wine of character and balance. If you are a fan of fantastic red blends, this wine belongs in your cellar and on your table!


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Mission Codename: Full of Grace

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Infiltrate the Etude Winery and recover an ample quantity of their exciting and delicious 2006 GBR Estate red Blend

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Etude Winery

Wine Subject: 2006 GBR Red Blend

Winemaker: Jon Priest

Backgrounder: The Carneros region, which straddles Napa and Sonoma Counties, is famous for producing incredible wines. Today’s Etude Carneros GBR is the best we have tried from them! Agent Red was dispatched to investigate today’s wine and you can read his tasting profile and mission report to learn what makes today’s wine so special

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Gorgeous dark garnet with a darker heart, a heavy surface and ruby-hued edges. When swirled, this wine leaves thick legs clinging to the sides of the glass. They are slow to emerge, and when they do, they are slow to make their way back down the glass.

Smell – Big, ripe, bold fresh berry leaps out of the glass, providing you with the feeling of inhaling aromas from a basket of freshly picked blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. These sit atop aromas of soft anise, espresso, tender oak and soft spice

Feel – Initially light, but then the wine quickly evolves on the palate, where a lush and full-bodied feel emerge. This is a unique attribute that our tasting panel found very intriguing. The wine becomes lush and reveals a soft minerality, leading to a berry-filled and lingering finish

Taste – Deep and delicious with flavors of blackberry, dark cherry, blueberry and raspberry. These mix with softest leather, dried tobacco leaf, soft minerals and the softest hint of exotic dark spices

Finish – Very long and lingering, leading with black fruit and finishing with soft minerals of slate and flint

Conclusion – Etude blows us away, once again! This time, with their wonderful 2006 GBR Estate Blend. This wine is an exciting conversation-starter, that is great fun to discuss as it changes and evolves – not only as it stretches out when exposed to air, but also right on the palate. In the mouth, the feel transforms from a lighter-styled wine to one of fuller character and deeper feel. We enjoyed this wine with a meal of whole wheat spaghetti and homemade tomato sauce with mushrooms and carrots. These were a perfect match. So, too, were the spicy Italian sausages, which were accentuated by the wine. The beautiful, balanced and delicious blend is well-deserving of the kudos and award that it has received and it get’s a hearty Wine Spies recommendation.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Jon Priest

WINE EDUCATION: Whitworth College BA Business Management, wine education: great mentoring in the early years, on-the-job training and self taught, pickup courses here and there.

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Began in sales any years ago with the ambition to pursue a marketing career. Worked crush at Wild Horse Winery in Templeton CA and was bitten buy the winemaking bug. Worked my way up to Celler Master then winemaker at Wild Horse Winery (there for 12 harvests), moved to Adelaida Cellars in westside Paso Robles, left to start up TAZ in Santa Barbara Co working with Fiddlestix Vineyard, called by Tony Soter in 2005 to come up to Napa to take the helm at Etude Wines.

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Believe in winegrowing as the basis for our efforts. We endeavor to create wines that are true to the land from which they were grown. Through attentive grape growing and minimal processing, we hope to create wine with depth of character, textured structure, balance and a sense of vitality and aromatic intrigue.


AGENT RED: Greetings, Jon. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 GBR Estate Red today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

JON: Thanks for the opportunity to show our newest wine.

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

JON: Not one specific event, rather a number of influences. Early on I was inspired by the melding of agriculture, culture, craftsmanship, history, art and science.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

JON: Before I became a winemaker, the wines from Daniel Rion, Meo Camuzet and Henri Jadot inspired my love for pinot noir. As a young winemaker, Ken Volk certainly had the biggest influence by allowing me the opportunity to practice the craft and hone my talents.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

JON: I suppose that first of all I make wines that appeal to my sensibilities and stylistic ambitions. But ultimately we make wines for our customers and loyal followers.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

JON: This is the first release of our estate grown GBR red blend. It is grown entirely on the Grace Benoist Ranch located in the northwest corner of Carneros. The ranch is also home to our estate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The rocky volcanic soils and cool maritime influence form the Pacific Ocean and San Pablo Bay make the ranch an ideal location for growing cool-climate varieties. The resulting wines have wonderful depth, well proportioned tannins and an identifiable sense of minerality.

In the highest corner of the ranch, we planted Merlot, Malbec and Syrah. Initially there was never an intent to blend these varieties together. However, once the individual wines were created, we recognized a synergy between the three that not only was delicious, the wine also exhibited the hallmarks of the site.

The wine shows the deep dark fruit, textured tannins and balance we have come recognize in wines from this ranch. Merlot brings class and breed to the blend, the Malbec give the wine a penetrating aromatic lift and sweet dark fruit flavors and the Syrah adds jammy fruit and spice.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

JON: Roast lamb and rosemary immediately jumps to mind. I had the chance to taste this wine last week with kirsch gormandise cheese last week and it was a spectacular pairing.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Carneros so special?

JON: The cool climate and geology of Carneros makes it ideal for wines with grace, depth and a balanced proportion.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

JON: With Spring om the way, many of our wines are completing malolactic fermentation. So we spend our days topping and racking barrels of 2009 vintage wines. We’re also beginning to complete the final blends of 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon and GBR for bottling this summer. That means tasting, tasting and more tasting.

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

JON: With an open mind, with friends and with a smile.

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

JON: We recently opened a new tasting room at the winery and I invite everyone to come experience our hospitality and taste though all of our current releases.

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!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Etude Winery in the Carneros region of Napa can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

About This Wine:

This inaugural vintage of GBR is a blend of Merlot (71%), Malbec (17%) and Syrah (12%). The wine is deep ruby in color with luscious aromas of crushed berries, fruit compote, anise and black olive. A rich, dark fruit entry leads to flavors of cassis, black plum, coffee bean and cedar. The wine is dense and well-balanced with a hint of minerality and a lingering finish.

Winegrowing: GBR is a proprietary red blend sourced from Etude’s Estate Vineyards at Grace Benoist Ranch, for which the wine is named. The vineyards are tucked away in the far northwest corner of the esteemed Carneros Appellation in Sonoma Valley. The Merlot, Malbec and Syrah that comprise the blend are ideally suited to the diverse microclimates and rocky soils of the site and offer a unique expression of the land.

The vineyard is farmed to Etude’s exacting standards, using ecologically sound viticultural practices. We grow and ultimately pick focusing on intensity of flavor, strong varietal delineation and ideal natural balance.

The vineyard is farmed to Etude’s exacting standards, using ecologically sound viticultural practices. We grow and ultimately pick focusing on intensity of flavor, strong varietal delineation and ideal natural balance.

The components were aged separately for approximately 12 months, the assemblage was then crafted and the blend was returned to barrels for 7 months of aging before bottling. The wine was aged an additional 6 months in bottle prior to release.

About The Winery:

What began twenty five years ago as a philosophical state of mind is now a state-of-the-art winemaking facility where the ancient art of winemaking is pursued with a singular passion.

Etude Wines is dedicated to mastering the craft of winegrowing. In classical music, an etude is a composition with a technical focus that allows the musician to practice a particular technique. Similarly, Etude wines are the product of deliberate concentration on the instructive variables of the craft. The end game is not edification alone, but rather the wine itself as a source of enjoyment. Chopin piano etudes are notoriously difficult but sublimely beautiful… this is an example of the practicing craft transformed to art.

Founder and self described winegrower Tony Soter puts it this way: “There’s no better vehicle with which to study or practice the craft of winemaking than Pinot Noir. It is the most challenging, unforgiving and quixotic of all wine grapes, and yet the most delicate and transparent.” “Make no mistake it is a humbling pursuit, but when it’s right, Pinot Noir is a glorious and moving thing. It is in the pursuit of that experience that we all work.”

Laboring alongside Soter in this oenological quest for perfection are veteran winemaker Jon Priest and viticulturalist Franci Ashton. Together, this talented trio works to transform the very finest Carneros and Napa Valley grapes into world-class wines sought out by the most discriminating wine lovers. In addition to its widely acclaimed Carneros Pinot Noir and legendary Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Etude has also developed a loyal following for Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Merlot.

About The Vineyard:

Etude Estate Vineyard – Tucked away in the far northwest corner of the esteemed Carneros Appellation is a rambling tract of grazing land that is bisected by the Rodgers Creek Fault Line at the southern toe of Sonoma Mountain. Unlike customary Carneros acreage, which is largely uplifted bay bottoms with soils composed of clay, the soils on the Etude Estate site are variations of volcanic origin. They are well drained, rocky upland soils. Combining these soils with the extreme western location closer to the Pacific Ocean makes this site a decidedly distinct destination (if not entirely atypical for Carneros).

Unlike many vineyards that are planted in grids that maximize efficiency, the blocks for Etude’s Estate Vineyard were customized to conform to the various soil types and the changing contours of the topography. Individual vineyard blocks average only 8 acres in size. The spacing is dense to ensure low per vine yields of fully concentrated fruit.

Mindful of their roles as stewards of this special property, the Etude team adheres strictly to sustainable agricultural practices that enable them to farm in concert with the surrounding environment. Native flora and naturally occurring wetlands have been protected, and creeks are being restored. Wildlife has been afforded safe passageways through the vineyards.

Nearly twenty Pinot Noir clones, including 10 preciously low yielding heirloom varieties, have been planted in Etude’s Estate Vineyard. As the grapes approach harvest, they are protected from hungry starlings by a falconer and a team of trained falcons. This novel, low impact method of crop protection is yet another example of Etude’s commitment to natural and sustainable winegrowing methods.

Already Etude’s Estate Vineyard is producing fruit that is unsurpassed in our experience. According to Tony Soter, “I am confident that the quality is so superior and distinct it will set us apart from all other Carneros sources.”

Technical Analysis:

Varietals: 71% Merlot,17% Malbec and 12% Syrah

Alcohol: 14.1%

Release date: March 2009

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