Russian Hill Estate Winery
2006 Meredith Vineyard Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir •Meredith Vineyard
California: Sonoma County: Russian River Valley
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Mission Codename: Climbing towards the Sun
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Infiltrate Russian Hill Estate Winery, a winery that sits snugly within the fabled Russian River Valley, California’s Pinot Noir hot-spot. Covertly review their 94-point Meredith Vineyard Pinot Noir. If the wine is as exceptional as reported, procure an ample allotment for our deserving Operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Russian Hill Estate Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 Meridith Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley
Winemaker: Patrick Melley
Backgrounder: The Russian River Valley, in Sonoma County, produces Pinot Noir of remarkable distinction. The cooler maritime conditions of the region make the RRV ideal for growing Pinot Noir. The Russian River Valley in Sonoma is particularly well suited to producing exceptional Pinot Noir. This AVA was officially designated in 1983, but many of the wines in the region used the designation as early as the 1970s (early in California’s wine history) with the many of the vines having been first planted in the early 1900s. Read Agent Red’s mission report and tasting notes below for the full intel on this exciting wine.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – With hues of dark strawberry juice, the core of the wine shows a deeper garnet color. A thin ring of bourbon-color rings the glass. Tightly spaced legs start chubby and high on the glass after swirling. As the legs move downward, they become long and skinny.
Smell – Rich and warm, the wine leads with a unique caramel, quince paste, dark cherry, stewed green fig, earth, Chanterelle mushroom and soft spice.
Feel – Soft and full on the attack, then softly drying with a vibrant and well-rounded minerality and back-palate acidity.
Taste – Toasted caramel, dark smoked cherry and tart cherry lead the way. These are accompanied by dark strawberry, overripe plum, soft spice and soft toasted French oak.
Finish – Medium length, with dark cherry, hints of blackberry, plum, brown spice, soft oak and easy mineral-driven tannin.
Conclusion – This Pinot Noir is classic Russian River, delivering a drinking experience that is part California, and part Burgundy. The flavors and aromatics were very unique and in the most positive sense. The earthiness reminded us of an easy-drinking Burgundy. the more time we spent with the wine, swirling and sipping, the more the flavors and aromas jumped out of the wine. Extended swirling also had a very positive effect on the feel of the wine, making it softer and more mouth-filling. Enjoy with hard cheeses and decant for best results. Most of all, simply enjoy the balance and uniqueness of this full-bodied Russian River delight.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Patrick Melley
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Go for transparency – to let each vineyard speak through the wine.
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1993
AGENT RED: Greetings, Patrick. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Russian River Meredith vineyard Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
PATRICK MELLEY: Thanks, Agent Red! We are pleased to be able to share our Pinot Noir with your Operatives!
PATRICK: Hello and it is a pleasure to be here.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
PATRICK: As a restaurateur, I was exposed to wines from around the world as I created wine lists for our restaurants to pair with their cuisines. With time, wine became a passion, if not an obsession.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
PATRICK: There is no doubt that, as a variety, Pinot Noir has most influenced my winemaking. Pinot requires attention to detail, diligence, adaptability and, most of all, a great passion for the variety. This is easy when it comes to Pinot Noir (meaning the passion part).
RED: Who do you make wine for?
PATRICK: I make my wines for personal satisfaction. I want to be proud of them.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
PATRICK: Well, the grapes are from Meredith Vineyard, owned and farmed by Merry Edwards and her husband Ken Coopersmith. The site is stunning and is located on a steep slope in the southwest corner of the Russian River Valley. The vineyard is on one side of a small valley. It is very cool location as wind from the coast funnels through the valley. This location dictates the style of the wine – it has bright, racy acidity, complex layered red fruit flavors and moderate alcohol levels. It’s elegant and beautiful and some would even say it is a feminine style of Pinot Noir.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
PATRICK: Without a doubt, I love this wine with fresh Pacific salmon. I know it’s been done before, but you just can’t beat it.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Russian River Valley so special?
PATRICK: Fog, fog, fog and more fog……
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
PATRICK: I am getting ready to bottle the first of our 2009 Pinot Noir and our Chardonnay and all of my time is spent blending and preparing the various lots. At night, however, I have nightmare about bottles, corks and labels – will they all be delivered in time?
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
PATRICK: Open mindedly, and with a smile.
RED: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
PATRICK: Only that we are thrilled you discovered us, and that we would love to hear your customers feedback on the wine when they try it. They can either send me an email directly, or go to our Facebook page to tell us what they thought. Thanks for the great Interview.
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 Russian Hill Estate Winery, in the Russian River Valley region, can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
94 Points – PinotReport – “Deep, cherry and berry aromas with forest floor notes; good structure and balance; long finish. Deep and rich, this Pinot …. will also reward for some time in the cellar.”
About This Wine:
Rich and complex, our 2006 Meredith greets you with aromas of rose petals, strawberry, coriander seed and caramel. On the palate, the fruit gives way to boysenberry and plum complemented by touches of sumac, pink pepper and other spices. The wine has a nice zip and a long finish.
Vineyard Notes: Meredith Vineyard is tucked into a bowl in the fog-enshrouded Sebastopol Hills region of the Russian River Valley. The vineyard cascades down the slope, each layer basking in the bright afternoon sunshine. The soil is sandy Goldridge loam and the vineyard offers a rich clonal selection. Russian Hill’s Meredith Pinot noir is approximately 80% Dijon clone 667 and 10% each of the Dijon 777 and Swan clones.
Winemakers Notes: After sorting, the grapes were gently destemmed into small, custom designed open top fermenters and kept below 50°F for a five day cold soak. Tanks were then individually warmed to allow fermentation to take place in a timely manner followed by cooling as needed to maintain temperatures below 85°F. Thrice daily pneumatic punch downs took place during the cold soak and fermentation. Once dry, the wine was gently pressed in a membrane press keeping free run and press fractions separate. Malolactic fermentation took place in oak barrels.
About The Winery:
Russian Hill Estate, a family owned and operated winery, is located in the heart of the Russian River Valley. Using the utmost care from vineyard to bottle, Russian Hill is dedicated to the production of world-class Pinot noir and Syrah. The key philosophy of the winery is to maintain the highest degree of excellence in viticultural and winemaking practices to allow wines to fully express the various vineyards that are their source.
Edward Gomez and Ellen Mack established Russian Hill in 1997 after a two-year intensive search for the appropriate site. It was imperative that the land be capable of producing outstanding estate vineyards but also allow for construction of a winery. Only by having full control of both the vineyard and wine production, did the team at Russian Hill feel they could produce wines of the quality they envisioned.
About The Winemaker:
Winemaker Patrick Melley gave up a career in the restaurant business to join his uncle Ed in the pursuit of making great wine. A largely self taught winemaker, Patrick has already shown great talent in making the Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet sauvignon that were our production prior to moving to Russian Hill. He is now excelling in the production of Pinot noir and Syrah. The key ingredient to Patrick’s success is his discriminating palate; his level disposition and great personality don’t hurt either. What does Patrick love most about a wine (and therefore works hardest to attain) – is mouthfeel. You’ll see what this means when you try some of his wines.
Appellation: Russian River Valley
Bottling Date: January 31, 2008
Harvest Date: Meredith Vineyard was hand harvested on September 30, 2006 at 24.4 brix.
Months in Barrel: 14
Release Date: September 25, 2008
Special Designation: Meredith Vineyard