2006 Sonoma County Meritage
California: Sonoma County
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Paint me a painting
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Revisit Hauck Cellars and acquire their superb Sonoma County Meritage
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Hauck Cellars
Wine Subject: 2006 Tableau Sonoma County Meritage
Winemaker: Mike Loykasek and Randall Watkins
Sonoma County is well known for producing some of the best wines in California, however, not long ago, Sonoma was better know as a provider of grapes for blending despite some of the best vineyards in the region having been planted in the 1800s. In the 1960s that all changed when Simi Winery in Alexander Valley changed hands. With a tremendous diversity of soil, climates and aspect, Sonoma County is now home to over 200 wineries spread across several diverse valleys such as Dry Creek, Russian River and Alexander Valley as well as hillside vineyards with the distinct mountain Terroir to the Mayacama range.
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 delicious Meritage selection is a blend of 70% Merlot 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petite Verdot and 3% Malbec.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dense garnet with ruby red streaks through its clear but intense core. The color remains a dark garnet-ruby along the edges and when swirled, slow widely spaced medium thick legs cling to the side of the glass.
Smell – Rich and bright fruit forward aromas of Bing cherry and other ripe red fruit blend with notes of vanilla toast and creme. Earthy minerality and soft oak blend with other complex notes that support the extremely inviting nose of this wine.
Feel – This full-bodied dry wine is rich and expansive on the palate with its lively acidity and finely textured tannins supporting a generous mouth feel that lingers into the finish.
Taste – Ripe and sweet red, black and Bing cherry lead off and linger into the finish and meld with the vanilla creme and toast found on the nose. Soft oak and subtle baking spices along with a touch of bittersweet chocolate also make an appearance.
Finish – Long, clean and rich with lingering cherry and vanilla notes that beg for another sip.
Conclusion – The 2006 Hauck Cellars Sonoma County Meritage is a delicious and extremely approachable wine that just begs for you to enjoy in big gulps. A great nose with bright and ripe cherry and vanilla that is sustained all the way into the finish. We developed in character with a solid but not overpowering in structure. Enjoy this wine right away or cellar for five or more years.
WINERY OWNERS INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Greg and Jennifer Hauck
WINE EDUCATION: Full-time Tasters
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Delamontanya, Everett Ridge, Hauck Cellars
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Don’t cut corners – the best grapes and barrels with careful winemaking
WINEMAKER QUOTE: ”The best time to have white wine, is when there is no red wine.”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 2005
AGENT WHITE: Greetings, Greg and Jennifer. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Tableau Cabernet Sauvignon today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
JENNIFER: We’re excited to be featuring our wine with you, today!
WHITE: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
GREG: I didn’t drink much wine when I was younger. My first trip to the wine country in the early 90s was an eye opener. We bought a couple of special bottles at Stag’s Leap and paired them with Christmas dinner. From that time on I’ve never really enjoyed a meal that did not involve wine on the table.
WHITE: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
GREG: Our personal cellar has changed dramatically over the years, but I think earlier I was most influenced by Pride and Shafer. I think our style is ever evolving, but we do have one constant philosophy on our wines: make a wine that is fun to sip on its own, but gets serious when the food arrives. We are now more Sonoma-centric, with favorites like Lancaster Estate.
WHITE: Who do you make wine for?
JENNIFER: As our label says, “We make small quantities of the wines we love to drink.” Jennifer and I make the varietals that we love most in the style that we want. I insist on dry wines with plenty of oak – sometimes my winemakers think I am heavy handed on the oak, but I say there is no such thing as too much oak.
WHITE: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
GREG: Today we are featuring the 2006 Hauck Cellars Meritage. This blend consists of 70% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% each of Petit Verdot and Malbec. The grapes were sourced from three Sonoma County vineyards: Alpine Valley Vineyard, Redwood Hill and the Red Grav Vineyard in the Alexander Valley. We aged the wine in 50% new French and American oak for 22 months. Fewer than 200 cases were produced.
WHITE: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
JENNIFER: We call our Meritage the “go to” wine, because it seems no matter the meal, you can go to the cellar and pick the Hauck Meritage and be confident of a good pairing. At recent winemaker dinners we’ve paired this wine with everything from a goat cheese salad, to duck two ways, to the cheese course. About the only thing we avoid are spicy foods.
WHITE: In your opinion, what makes Sonoma County so special?
GREG: The grapes in this wine come from three distinct regions of Sonoma County. The merlot from the Alpine Valley Vineyard is at the base of Spring Mountain, home to such great wineries as Pride, Sherwin and many others. Cooler weather merlot and cab from Redwood Hill Vineyard gives us a long growing season allowing the development of complex flavors. And then to beef up the blend, we added a barrel of our award winning Red Grav Cabernet from the much hotter Alexander Valley. The result of blending from three distinct vineyards is a red wine with depth and layers.
WHITE: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
GREG: We’ve just finished bringing in the last of the 2010 fruit, beating the rain by a few hours last week. Everything is either in tank or barrel, so we are turning our attention to blending our 2009 Zinfandels for February bottling. Plus the tasting room is really busy, so that’s where I am most of the time.
WHITE: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
BOTH: Approach them often!
WHITE: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
JENNIFER: We’re a true boutique family winery. We only make 1,500 cases each year, so it is very unusual for us to feature our wines outside of the tasting room. We’re glad the Wine Spies found us and hope to see your clients in our tasting room in downtown Healdsburg. Visit our website!
WHITE: 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 approximate location of the Hauck Cellars tasting room in Healdsburg, CA can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Today’s wine just took the Silver Medal at the 2010 Sonoma County Harvest Fair
About This Wine:
Welcome to “cherries jubilee” in a glass. The rich backdrop of bing cherries is laced with vanilla bean and dark chocolate, all punctuated by notes of nutmeg and lavender. Our Meritage is a blend of four noble Bordeaux grapes: Merlot (70%), Cabernet Sauvignon (24%) Petit Verdot and Malbec (3% each). This wine is pairing nicely throughout the meal, from panzanella salad to roasted chicken and pork.
About The Winery:
At Hauck Cellars we make only the varietals we love to drink. We source the grapes from the appellation which is best suited for each varietal. To obtain the best quality of fruit, we work with growers throughout Sonoma County, including Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, and Alexander Valley. Our barrel program is uncompromising, utilizing the best French and American oak from cooperages such as Radoux, Cadus, Billon, Demptos, Keystone, Vicard and Francois Frere.
About The Winemakers:
Our Winemakers, Mike Loykasek and Randall Watkins – We knew we needed help to make great wines, so we hired Mike Loykasek and Randall Watkins. We are proud to say that both have been named Sonoma County Winemaker of the Year (Mike in 2007 and Randall in 2005).
Mike brings years of winemaking experience from several California appellations and is known as the Cowboy — mostly because of his bold, no-holds-barred winemaking style, especially with Zin and Cab.
Randall has literally spent a lifetime mastering the art of winemaking, having started in his father’s garage cellar at the age of 10. He brings to Hauck years of experience from notable wineries Buena Vista Winery, Hartford Family Winery and Carmenet. Randall is passionate about terroir and we are so thrilled to be learning from him.
Varietals: Merlot (70%), Cabernet Sauvignon (24%) Petit Verdot and Malbec (3% each).
Production: 200 cases