Gundlach-Bundschu Winery

2005 Vineyard 51 Merlot

Merlot •Vineyard 51

California: Sonoma County: Alexander Valley

Offer Expired:Dec 16, 2010 at 11:59 pm
Avg. Price

What We Say


Today’s wine deserves special recognition as a wine that rises above the already high standards that we set for our daily wine discoveries.


Today’s exceptional Merlot comes from a vineyard so secret that even we can’t reveal its name. With a little clever sleuthing you might discover which ultra-premium Merlot vineyard the grapes came from. You’ll also discover that the price of today’s Merlot is less than half that of [REDACTED]’s Merlot… And we like this one better!


Today’s selection from Gundlach-Bundschu is only available in the winery’s tasting room, and then, only if they choose to let their visitors know about the wine! Because we are clever and crafty spies, we were able to infiltrate the winery’s private library – and secure all of the remaining cases for our deserving Operatives.


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Mission Codename: Thar be mysteries here!

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Infiltrate Gundlach-Bundschu and attempt to unravel the mystery that enshrouds their 2005 Vineyard 51 Merlot, a wine that comes from a famous-name vineyard in Alexander Valley – that the winery won’t reveal

Mission Status: Ongoing…

Current Winery: Gundlach-Bundschu

Wine Subject: 2005 Vineyard 51 Merlot – Alexander Valley

Winemaker: Jeff Bundschu and Keith Emerson

Backgrounder: Its no secret that The Wine Spies love Gundlach Bundschu wines. This unique Sonoma Valley winery recently celebrated it’s 150th anniversary, making it one of the oldest and most well-respected wineries in the nation. We love them for their people and for their wines, both of which are a delightful mixture of old-world and audacious.

To true wine lovers, Merlot is one of the finest wine varietals in the world. Today, Merlot continues to sell in record numbers across the US, outpacing most other varietals. Merlot is sincere, food-fabulous wine for serious wine drinkers. If you think that Merlot is not for you, forget everything that you think you know about Merlot and embrace this stellar example.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Dark garnet hues, with a deeper and but still clear heart. The wine pours quickly into the glass, giving the impression that it will have a light feel (read on for the full story). After swirling, tall, skinny legs start high on the glass.

Smell – Juicy red fruit of cherry, cranberry and raspberry mix with dark chocolate, blackberry, dusty bramble, and leather. These are followed by soft aromas of dark spice, black pepper and earth.

Feel – Plush and soft on entry, giving the wine an initially silken feel. As fine grained tannins work their magic, a soft dryness spreads around the palate, eventually drying the cheeks.

Taste – Delicious black cherry, jammy dark raspberry and softly smoky blackberry lead the way. These yield to chocolate, supple leather, toasted oak and soft cedar. Under these, sits a soft dark spice and subtle black pepper.

Finish – Very long and flavor-filled, with dark fruit and red fruit lasting for a long time. As these fade, leather and spice remain. At the very end, a mineral-rich black pepper lingers on.

Conclusion – Our Operatives have been hankering for a great Merlot. With all of the requests we have been getting, I knew that I had to sleuth out a great one. I recalled GunBun’s mysterious 2005 Vineyard 51 Merlot from a recent visit to the winery, so I called my mole at the winery – and managed to secure a limited number of cases for you, dear Operative. This wine is a beautifully balanced treat that our entire tasting panel really enjoyed. Lovely aromatics lead the way to a plush feel. Flavors are delicious and full, with fruit and earthen elements that are a true delight. In all, this wine is a harmonious and compelling treat that we offer to you with our heartiest recommendation!

Mission Report:

Befitting the Top Secret nature of today’s wine, we were only able to retrieve a snippet of Agent Red’s interview with [REDACTED], the winemaker for today’s wine. We are attempting to deobfuscate the remainder of the interview as you read this. Until we can present the interview in its entirety (if such a thing is even ever possible), please review the following:

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

WINEMAKER: A few years back, when were replanting some blocks on our vineyard and had less fruit than we needed, a prestigious Estate Winery in Alexander Valley that rarely sells its grapes had more Merlot than they needed in the big and beautiful 2005 vintage. Their vineyard produces Merlot of a totally different character than our own Estate Vineyard in Sonoma Valley, due to the warmer climate and different soils, vines and farming techniques, so we jumped at the opportunity to make a small batch of Merlot exclusively for our wine club in a distinct style from our own. The winery that won’t let us use their name (perhaps because their own wines sell for twice this price!), so we nicknamed it Vineyard 51. As in Area 51.

We have a very small amount of this wine left in our library, and frankly since we no longer produce it, we need the space to store other library wines and are willing to offer the last cases to the Wine Spies. We know our secrets are safe with you.

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Gundlach-Bundschu winery can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

About This Wine:

Rich aromas of red and black cherry are followed by dusty red currant and sweet espresso on the palate. Medium bodied with ripe, mature tannins, the lingering finish adds complex cocoa and oak notes to the fruit. Approachable in youth, this classic Alexander Valley Merlot will improve with age for five years or more from vintage.

VINTAGE: The most challenging growing season in recent history, 2005 provided wine grapes of exceptional quality to those who were vigilant about tending their vines. A cool and unseasonably wet spring and early summer led to excessive vine growth that could easily have put the plants out of balance with respect to fruit and foliage. This meant that workers made numerous passes through the vineyards to remove leaves, thus promoting balance. The mild daytime temperatures through harvest worked to the advantage of wine quality in that this was the optimum environment for flavor and aroma compounds to develop. This coupled with warm nighttime temperatures, which promoted tannin maturity, makes for a vintage of very promising wine quality.

VINEYARD: Vineyard 51 Merlot is sourced from an esteemed Alexander Valley estate winery that respectfully requests we keep their name top secret. Rest assured, the wine is proof enough that it exists. The vineyard site sits at an elevation of 80 feet and is comprised primarily of sand and gravel with volcanic subsoils.

WINEMAKING: The grapes were hand –picked and delivered to the winery in the cool morning hours where they were gently destemmed and delivered to small stainless steel fermenters. After a 3 to 5 day cold soak, the must was inoculated with prepared yeast and pumped-over throughout fermentation. Pressed at dryness, the wine aged for 15 months in 35% new French oak barrels, and was lightly filtered to bottle.

About The Winery:

For 150 years we Bundschus have hiked, biked, fished, flown, sailed, surfed and otherwise explored the outdoors of Northern California and far beyond.

While we delight in adventure, two important things we’ve learned from our travels are, first, always carry a map, and second, there is nothing better than coming home. Even if you never set foot in Sonoma or get to smell the Watusi up close, we invite you to visit us anytime by simply pulling a cork.

Technical Analysis:

Blend: 100% Merlot

Cases Produced: 781

Harvested: October 11, 2005

Brix: 24.1

Alcohol: 13.7%

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