What We Say 2006 Maier Family Meritage
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Mission Codename: My wine has a first name…
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Send Agent Red to St. Helena Road Winery, in order to investigate reports of a fantastic Meritage. If the rumors are true, secure an ample cache of their 2006 Maier Family Meritage for our Bordeaux blend-loving Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: St. Helena Road Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 Maier Faamily Meritage
Backgrounder: Meritage (pronounce like ‘heritage’, no French style accent) wine, blends made in the tradition of the great wines of Bordeaux can only carry the name if the winery is a member of The Meritage Association based in Sonoma County. Most wines made in the US are varietal wines, comprised of over 75% of a single varietal. Unfortunately, this labeling requirement is believed to impair many winemakers from making exceptional blends, since they are often labeled as simply Red Table Wine with the noble grapes of Bordeaux. Thus in 1988 Meritage was born as a way to highlight the winemaker’s art of careful blending and crafting of wines in the tradition of some of Europe’s finest wines.
Today’s selection is 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot and 3% Malbec, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petite Verdot.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark and inky purple with plum-skin hues that reflect a rainbow when swirled. At the edge of the glass, a rim of pure garnet plays with the light. After swirling, chubby, wine-stained legs crawl down the inside of the glass.Smell – Deeply aromatic, with giant dusky blackberry and blackest cherry up front. These are closely followed by red plum, black plum and exotic spiced chocolate, Asian spice and mocha espresso.
Feel – Big and ultra-ripe, with lush, chewy tannins. This wine utterly fills the mouth – while maintaining a very clean feel.
Taste – Bold and deep, with an explosion of pronounced black cherry and an intriguing slightly-burnt blackberry pastry. These sit atop black plum, red plum, boysenberry, bramble, and spice, with black anise, espresso grounds and soft white pepper.
Finish – Long, dark, dusky and complex, with bold blackfruit that goes on and on, long after the wine leaves your mouth
Conclusion – This is one delightfully giant and boldly delicious Meritage! The bold aromatics had me smelling the wine for several minutes before I ever took a taste. When I did taste the wine, I was blown away by the big, ripe flavors and feel of it. There is noting timid about this wine, but you should note that it it not so big that it overpowers your senses. Rather, everything works together to deliver a wine of great balance. There is elegance with the boldness. I would certainly recommend that you pair with heartier fare, such as BBQ beef rips, or a grilled steak with blue cheese. If you love big wines with big personality, this wine is guaranteed to excite your senses.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Richard Maier
WINE EDUCATION: Richard has learned by doing, just like his Grandfather, learning about making wine since before President Regan’s first term in office. He has tasted through the world’s wine regions, learning from winemakers and viticulturists and then coming back to Sonoma County to apply their tips and tricks to our special piece of heaven on the West side of Spring Mountain.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Owner & Winemaker of Saint Helena Road Vineyards & Winery from May 1999 to present. Head of agricultural research and development of Roy J Maier Corp. cane plantations in North and South America and France from 1980-1996.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: To allow our grapes to express the characteristics of our unique mountain location with the least possible human interference. In the same way we practiced minimal intervention with musical reeds, we have put the same philosophy and strategies into our wine-growing and -making.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: When we tasted our first bottle of wine, our 2003 Roy J Maier, we believed then and we believe now that we have created a great bottle of wine at a reasonable price.
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: August 2005
AGENT RED: Greetings, Richard. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Maier Family Winery Meritage today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
RICHARD MAIER: Thank you, we appreciate your efforts
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
RICHARD: I had tried lots of wine from around the world, but sampling my first bottle of 1985 Jordan Cabernet launched my enthusiasm for soft and smooth red wines. Everything we have done since that first taste has been trying to create a similar experience for others from our own Spring Mountain property.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
RICHARD: The style of our wines is mostly dictated by the growing season and its end result on our crop for that season. As a wine-maker my job is to put that year in a bottle.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
RICHARD: We hope we find a middle ground that appeals across the generations, demonstrating how exceptional Bordeaux blends can be from Sonoma County without breaking the bank!
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
RICHARD: Our Meritage is a mind blowing blend of our mountain fruit, its dark, deep aromas of Chocolate, Asian spice, black cherry, and coffee mirrored on the full rich palate. The big, ripe tannins are chewy and rich, enveloping the mid-palate and giving the sense that this wine will age well for a long time.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
RICHARD: My wife Patty’s Barbequed Meat loaf; the recipe is on our website.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Spring Mountain region so special?
RICHARD: Our Spring Mountain Vineyards are a world of Sonoma County micro climates, letting us explore the variety of styles and wines our property can produce. There is no better feeling than driving through the forest along the pristine Mark West Creek and being unable to see the lights of any other settled property; that makes us feel like we are on top of the world surrounded by our vines.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
RICHARD: All of the various tasks of a hands on grower and winemaker: keeping up with a cool growing season, making sure supplies are in and ready for crush, and hoping that harvest is done before Thanksgiving!
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
RICHARD: Just sitting around the dining room table with food, friends, and family and enjoying our wine.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
RICHARD: Please keep in mind what drives us—these vines, this fruit, are simply our life and our passion. In short: “A PASSION THAT IS PALATABLE.”
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 Region Check:
The location of the Spring Mountain region, which sits between Sonoma County and the Napa Valley, can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
St. Helena Road Winery
Awards & Accolades:
About This Wine:
Our Meritage is a mind blowing blend of our mountain fruit, its dark, deep aromas of chocolate, Asian spice, black cherry, and coffee are mirrored on the full rich palate. The big, ripe tannins are chewy and rich, enveloping the mid-palate and giving the sense that this wine will age well for a long time.
About The Winery:
Welcome to St. Helena Road Winery – Silently resting on the side of the Mayacmas Mountains are 14,000 hand-started Bordeaux varietal rootstocks, basking in the long days of the Western California sun. These are grapes that are harvested for the finest Northern California Wines.
The spectacular five varietals’ vineyards produces blends of Caberenet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot are carefully monitored and tended to by our wine consultant Mike Hirby.
Our featured wine and premier offering is our ROY J MAIER Cabernet, our tribute to our grandfather, the Musician, Inventor and Reedmaker. The hand-selected Cabernet grapes from sweet spots in our vineyards are put into the finest French white oak barrels, offering ultra low sulfites and big ripe aromas and flavor subtleties.
These vines, this fruit, is simply our life and our passion.
In short: “A PASSION THAT IS PALATABLE”
About The Vineyards:
During the 2006 and 2007 growing seasons, our vineyards took a firm hold on advancing maturity. With our vine structure having been established in 2004 and 2005, we concentrated on extending all cordons (the arms on each vine) to the fullest length our vine spacing will allow, which is about 2.5 feet in each direction. This establishes the ‘fruiting zone’ where our grape bunches will develop. Cordons of 2.5 feet in length produce between 8 and 12 ‘spurs’ per vine. (A ‘spur’ is the growth that emerges from a cordon ‘node’, where 2 bunches or clusters of grapes are created) If we average 10 spurs per vine, each vine will establish about 20 grapes clusters. This is the fruit production level we seek, and have designed into our vineyards. Remember, grapes are nourished through the same root systems, trunks and cordons, whether there are 20 clusters per vine, or 120 per vine. The fewer there are, the more concentrated the energy is directed to each cluster, allowing for maximum development of the grapes and their flavors.
Our 2006 harvest brought us 28 tons of our 5 Bordeaux varietals. With these 28 tons, we crafted 1,750 cases. This expansion of tonnage from 21 in 2005, was due to the above mentioned vine maturity and cordon lengthening. As we gain added cordon length every year on every vine, we see additional nodes appearing, and each new node added with this lengthening, brings 2 more clusters to that vine. Approximately 75% of our 14,500 vines have reached full length. The tonnage increases as more vines mature and extend further. Once full length is established, the existing clusters that develop each season bring added size and weight. The grapes themselves do not necessarily grow larger; there are just more of them per bunch. Grape size is determined by climate, location, soil types, drainage, elevation, temperature etc.
Varietals: 72% Cab Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 3% Malbec, 3% Cab Franc, 1% Petite Verdot