2006 Napa Valley Estate Merlot
Merlot •Estate Vineyard
California: Rutherford (Napa)
What we say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Love great Merlot? Today’s earns this special recognition – as a wine that rises above our already high standard for the wines we choose.
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Mission Codename: The glory of the Grove
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Rutherford Grove Winery and Vineyards, secure their special mountain elevation Merlot, from the winery’s vineyards high atop Howell Mountain.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Rutherford Grove Winery and Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2006 Napa Valley Estate Merlot
Winemaker: Andy Pestoni
Backgrounder: Merlot, one of the primary grape varietals from Bordeaux finds an exceptional home in the Napa Valley. The Rutherford AVA is among the most famous of names in the valley and is primarily know for its exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon and the other big Bordeaux varietals. Ironically, Rutherford was the last of the major districts to receive AVA status and is home to about 30 wineries. Its well drained soil made of a combination of marine sediment and volcanic gravel, sand and loam is distinct and contributes to its famed ‘Rutherford Dust’ component found its its great wines.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Like pure ruby, this wine catches the light and bursts with color. With a slightly darker core of pure ruby, this wine shows off perfectly concentrated color, right out to the edge of the glinting pink edge. Giving clues to its weight, the wine settles quickly when swirled. As it settles, tall columns of skinny legs move swiftly down the glass.
Smell – Dusky and dusty, with earthen cherry, smoked blackberry, dried smoked meats, mushroom, leather, subtle cedar and mild black pepper.
Feel – Fine and smooth on entry, this wine expands as it moves across the mid palate – where it digs in slightly, introducing a dark mineral dryness that spreads easily throughout the entire palate, leaving a spicy warmth as it moves.
Taste – Smoky and earthy, with dark cherry, red plum skin, young blackberry, young strawberry and spice. Just below these, are perfect aromas of dark spice, soft smoke, subtle oak and a hint of tomato vine.
Finish – Long and bright, led by red fruit and supported by flinty minerals that accentuate the white pepper flavor at the very end – where just a hint of soft oak persists as fruit and spice wear off.
Conclusion – The 2006 Napa Valley Estate Merlot is bright, delicious, food-fabulous wine that earned a spot in our hearts – and on our dinner table! Today’s wine is a balanced wine that delivers plenty of fruit, against more earthen and hearty characteristics. The smoke, meat and mushroom flavors play beautifully with the bright cherry, plum and berry flavors, and the expansive feel enhances the overall experience of the wine. Pair this flexible beauty with nearly anything. We enjoyed our review bottles with pulled pork sandwiches. Drink now, or hold for a few years. Decant for 30 minutes for a fuller and even tastier experience.
For today’s wine, we were only able to secure an abbreviated interview. Please be sure to check back with us, the next time we showcase another great Rutherford Grove wine.
AGENT RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
ANDY PESTONI: Today’s selection is a never before released 2006 Merlot. It comes from our vineyard in the heart of Rutherford, just south of the winery.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
ANDY: A nice rack of lamb is a great dish to have when drinking this wine, we also really enjoy the braised chuck gnocchi from Farmstead Restaurant in St. Helena.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Rutherford Bench so special?
ANDY: At just over 500 feet above sea level, the Rutherford Bench is home to many famous vineyards. It is bordered mountain ranges on the east and west sides, the soil is primarily gravelly, sandy and loamy. This soil make-up creates deep, well-drained pockets and facilitates the drainage of runoff to streams and the Napa River.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
ANDY: Right now, we are working on the first racking of the 2010 red wines. We are also putting the finishing touches on the 2009 blends so that they are ready for bottling later this year.
RED: Thank you so much for your time
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Rutherford Grove Winery and Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
About This Wine:
We are proud to release this 100% Estate Merlot sourced exclusively from our Estate vineyard located east of our winery and tasting room in the heart of the Rutherford Appellation.
This Merlot features great opening aromas of white pepper and blackberry. Well balanced tannins, leading to soft and lingering finish.
About The Winery:
Nestled in the heart of the Napa Valley, Rutherford Grove Winery and Vineyards invites you to enjoy our wines, stroll through our gardens, or stay for an afternoon picnic. Conveniently located on Highway 29, we welcome visitors daily from 10am to 4:30pm. Prior appointment for tasting is not required for groups fewer than 8.
About The Winemaker:
Andy Pestoni is the fourth generation of his family to live and work in the Napa Valley. Born and raised in St. Helena, today he directs the winemaking for Rutherford Grove Winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese and Sauvignon Blanc. The winery’s total production is 10,000 cases a year and the wines are estate-grown from 50 acres of vineyards in the Rutherford and Howell Mountain appellations. The family came to the Napa Valley in the late 1880’s from the Ticino region of Switzerland, from the town of Monte Carasso.
“Even though I have winemakers in my family history, I didn’t think I’d grow up to be a winemaker,” Andy smiles. He caught the ‘wine bug’ working harvests at Beaulieu Vineyard while attending college. He went on to work in the cellar at Ferrari-Carrano in Sonoma County for several years. While he was at Ferrari-Carrano his father and uncle bought a winery formerly known as Rutherford Vintners, in the town of Rutherford, and asked Andy to ‘come home’ and help them launch it as a new family winery. Ray Corison joined the team for the first few years as a winemaking consultant, as did Bob Pepi; from the 1996 vintage on, though, Andy has directed all winemaking operations.
Varietals: 100% Merlot
Barrel Aging: 18 Months; 90% French Oak, 10% American Oak 20% new, 60% one-year old, 20% two-year old
Winemaker: Andy Pestoni