San Saba Vineyards
California: Monterey County
What We Say
WILDFIRE ALERT: If you are visiting due to the Press Release issued today by Wine Gives, Welcome. The wine mentioned in the release, Marie Johnston Wines, will be on sale tomorrow and Sunday. Today, we are donating $1 per bottle sold to the American Red Cross, in support of those affected by the fires in southern California. We will sustain these donations, in partnership with our wineries, for as long as possible. Enjoy your wine purchase today and thank you for doing some good!
TOP SECRET SPECIAL: Free Shipping on orders of six or more bottles. Use the promotion code SPYSHIP during checkout.
Mission Codename: Merlot with the Heart of a Lion
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Prove that Monterey County Merlot has the heart to face off against the popular Pinot Noir – and WIN
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: San Saba Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2004 San Saba Vineyards Merlot
Winemaker: Sabrine Rodems and Jeff Ritchey
Agent Red has been conducting covert operations in Monterey County with greater frequency these days. Because this area is the largest grape growing region in California, there are many superb wines to spy for our Operatives. Today, Agent Red uncovers a fine gem of a Merlot from San Saba Vineyards
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Fruit punch red, fading to clear at the edges with long and widely spaced legs that fall quickly down the glass
Smell – Aromatic plum and black cherry with hints of smoked licorice, green chili, sweet pipe tobacco and the slightest fresh cream
Feel – Wet, smooth and springy in the mouth with mild to medium tannins
Taste – Layers of cherry, fruit juice, cassis and plum, with mild white pepper, tart cherry and toasty oak – even on the roof of the mouth
Finish – Long and lingering flavors with tannins that grip the edges of the tongue and back of the mouth
Conclusion – Pinot-Shminot! Once again we uncover a Merlot that can stand up to any Pinot Noir – and maybe even kick its butt! Forget what anyone tells you to drink, especially Hollywood. ANY varietal has its superstars and this budget-minded Merlot shines brightly. This is a complex and easy-drinking wine that bursts with flavor and drinks above its price-class. We have tasted two exceptional Monterey Merlots of late. If you love Merlot, be sure to give this one a swirl!
Wine and Winery Brief:
San Saba may be a smallish and somewhat lesser known vineyard than its bigger neighbors, but that makes them no less of a great wine producer.
Think of San Saba like a little, undiscovered estate in Burgundy that is tucked between two Grand Cru vinyards. San Saba is sandwiched between the vineyards of Mer Soleil , Double L, Sleepy Hollow, Gary’s & Rosella’s Vineyards. To the north you’ll find another Mer Soleil vineyard and Pisoni vineyard. To the South Hahn Estates and Pariso. All in all, that’s some pretty great company to be in.
Monterey County is producing some wine champions and the climate at San Saba’s location is in what they describe as the perfect growing climate.
After searching the region for a great Merlot, I uncovered two really great ones. The first is today’s San Saba Merlot, the other from Carmel Valley at more than twice the price. With holidays upcoming, we thought that we’d share this gem with you first. Stock up and prove to your friends and loved ones that Merlot can be great!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of San Saba Vineyards and tasting room can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards and Accolades
Gold – Lone Star Int’l Wine Competition
Critic’s Award – Wine Critic’s Int’l Wine Competition
3 Stars – Michael Lonsford, Houston Chronicle
Aromas of dark fruit wrapped with caramel and smoke lead to a wine with a luscious, dense texture. Black cherry and plum flavors fill the mouth, along with hints of black pepper, coffee, cocoa, and menthol. Wonderfully even across the palate, this merlot finishes with vanilla and lingering notes of toasted oak.
About San Saba Vineyards:
Located at the foot of the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey’s historic Salinas Valley, San Saba produces limited quantities of fine Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from our cool climate, 70-acre estate. Our San Saba label – we also produce wines under the Bocage label – features grapes from the best blocks on our property. Hand harvested, hand sorted, gently pressed and aged in the finest oak barrels, these wines are noteworthy for their structure, purity and intensity. San Saba was founded by Mark and Barbara Lemmon in 1975.
A warm winter and spring resulted in early bud break. Temperatures stayed warm and by mid-May, degree days were 10% ahead of normal. There was a heat spike late August during which many vineyards picked. We kept the clusters on the vine to develop further and temperatures cooperated, cooling off for the last month. Even with this extra time, harvest was September 28, two weeks earlier than normal.
This wine is the result of extensive vineyard work- new trellising, cluster thinning after veraison, and leaf stripping to expose the ripening clusters to sunlight. Harvesting was done by hand in several passes to ensure even ripeness. After fermentation, the wine was aged in an assortment of oak barrels from various coopers to give additional interest and complexity. Barrels were blind tasted for selection into the final blend. Remaining lots were blended into Bocage Merlot.
Varietals: 95% Merlot, 5% Malbec
Maturation: 10 months in small oak barrels
Residual Sugar: 0.1%
Production: 575 cases
Release Date: July 11, 2006