What We Say 2007 Napa Valley Merlot
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
We issue these alerts whenever we offer a wine that exceeds the already high standards that we set for the wines that we select. Today’s Napa Valley Merlot is an exceptional wine with exceptional character. If you are a fan of expressive and balanced Merlot, please give this wine careful consideration.
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Mission Codename: The Right Bank – of Carneros
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Wine Spies Operative favorite, Pine Ridge Vineyards, and secure an ample allocation of their exceptional 2007 Napa Valley Merlot for our Operatives who, last year, made Pine Ridge one of our best-selling wineries of all time
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Pine Ridge Winery
Wine Subject: 2007 Napa Valley Merlot
Winemaker: Michael Beaulac
Backgrounder: Pine Ridge Vineyards is a Top Five winery for us, in terms of popularity with our Operatives. One taste of their outstanding wines reveals why Pine Ridge wines sell in record numbers; The quality of the wines are always extraordinary.
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. Today’s wine is a stellar example of the varietal.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep ruby hues at the edges transition to a dense and darker core. The heart of the wine is darker, but perfectly clear, with no inkiness. After a hearty swirl, tall, wine-stained legs appear high on the glass, and then move very slowly downward.
Smell – Plentiful dark fruit leaps from the glass. Out in front are ripe blackberry, plum and black currant. These mingle with exotic spice, sweetwoods, licorice and strawberry jam.
Feel – Very soft and supple on entry, then more firm and mouth-filling. Medium grained tannins add grip at the tip of the tongue. This spreads rearward, introducing soft spice and a touch of oak as it moves. Balanced acidity, supported by a hint of flinty minerality, makes the mouth water.
Taste – Black fruit takes center stage, with bold and smoky blackberry out front. This deliciously primary flavor is followed closely by black cherry, plum, blueberry and dark mocha. Beneath these are more subtle flavors of tobacco leaf, earthen mushroom, spice and soft white pepper.
Finish – Very long with lingering flavors of blackberry, black cherry and plum. Medium tannins and balanced acidity give the wine a great backbone as flavors tail off slowly. At the very end, flint and white pepper persist after the fruit flavors are gone. This has a mouthwatering effect that reminds you to take another generous sip.
Conclusion – The 2007 Pine Ridge Vineyards Napa Valley Merlot delivers the best that the varietal has to offer. And, we are reminded why Napa Carneros Merlot is often compared to wines from the Right Bank of Bordeaux. Bold, dense and very expressive, this wine delivers a great deal of flavor, while remaining balanced and very approachable. Dark aromatics and dark fruit flavors combine to deliver a real treat to the senses, and the long finish ends in dramatic fashion by driving minerals and white pepper, encouraging you to keep sipping. A very food-friendly wine, we recommend that you pair with something spicy or something grilled.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Michael Beaulac
WINE EDUCATION: The school of hard knocks…started as a cellar rat and worked my way up!
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Elegance is the key. A wine should have velvet tannins that cover the palate and once swallowed should linger for several seconds.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Michael. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Napa Valley Merlot today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
MICHAEL: It’s my great pleasure to be here again, Red.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
MICHAEL: I had a bottle of Jean Gros Vosne-Romanee and realized what a very good bottle of wine could taste like.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
MICHAEL: Christian Mouiex
RED: Who do you make wine for?
MICHAEL: Our fans and consumers. There is nothing better than to be in a restaurant and seeing someone enjoying a bottle of wine that I made .
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
MICHAEL: The nose abounds with primary notes of dark plum, dried cherry and cola with hints of warm spice and vanilla. The structured palate opens with layers of fresh Bing cherry, blackberry preserves and anise flavors surrounded by velvety tannins and evolving into darker notes of espresso and toffee in the tapering finish.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
MICHAEL: Prosciutto Wrapped Lamb with Garlic & Tomato Confit
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Napa Carneros region so special?
MICHAEL: Napa Valley is the greatest wine growing region in the world. Warm days and cool nights paired with soils will always produce wonderful wines.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
MICHAEL: Currently we are starting to get our 2010 chardonnay out of barrel and ready for bottling
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
MICHAEL: Always remember that the wine is made in the vineyard and should show its place of origin. Even more importantly, wine is about sharing with friends and family – don’t over-think it.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
MICHAEL: Drink more Merlot!
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 Vineyard Check:
The location of the Pine Ridge Winery in the Stags’ Leap district in Napa County can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Pine Ridge Vineyards
About This Wine:
Though the appellation on the label has changed to Napa Valley, you’ll find this wine to be the same Carneros Merlot you’ve enjoyed for years.
The 2007 Merlot offers a world of complexity, waiting beneath the youthful tannins and bright acidity that make this one of our more robust bottlings. The nose abounds with primary notes of dark plum, dried cherry and cola with hints of warm spice and vanilla. The structured palate opens with layers of fresh Bing cherry, blackberry preserves and anise flavors surrounded by velvety tannins and evolving into darker notes of espresso and toffee in the tapering finish.
HARVEST AND WINEMAKING: The 2007 vintage had many ups and downs, with an early, cool start and several heat waves throughout the growing season resulting in smaller bunches of small, intensely flavored berries harvested in early October. The grapes were sorted with an intensive triple selection process before crushing and macerated on the skins an average of 23 days. The wine was aged in 25% new French oak for 13 months before being bottled in August 2009.
FOOD PAIRING: With the rounded weight this wine currently boasts, perfect pairings will need an equal amount of richness and flavor, like chicken breasts or portobello mushrooms stuffed with cheese, ribeye or flank steaks and braises. As time softens the tannins and opens the fruit, try it with more subtle dishes like papardelle with sausage ragú and hard cheeses.
About The Winery:
What does it take to make a world-class wine? Before setting out to make one of our own, we asked ourselves this fundamental question. Looking to the most esteemed winegrowing districts of France for our answer, we found that the greatest of the great embrace three principles: pride of ownership, profound stewardship of the land, and a relentless dedication to quality. These values were already reflected in our vineyard management and our winemaking-in our dense plantings, meticulous pruning, and hand harvesting; in our artistic blending and careful selection of coopers—but our goal was to surpass our best.
Building on the groundwork laid by the founders, we set out with ardor and high aims for our vineyards, our winery, and our wines. We would care for every vine as if it were our only vine and design a grape reception and sorting process second to none. Within a year of starting, we rebalanced the vines and completely revamped our grape-handling procedures. Every vintage since has been testament to the success of our viticultural and enological pursuits.
About The Winemaker:
I look forward to working with the seasoned team here to continue to produce classically proportioned wines that are the hallmark of Pine Ridge. – Michael Beaulac, winemaker
After a long and thorough search to find the successor to a winemaking history dating back to 1978 when the winery was founded, Michael Beaulac has been appointed Winemaker and General Manager at Pine Ridge Vineyards. Inheriting the role shaped by Stacy Clark for over 25 years, brings his expertise in winemaking with an emphasis on Bordeaux varietals from his eight years as winemaker at St. Supery Vineyards and Markham Vineyards prior to that.
“Pine Ridge has a tremendous portfolio of outstanding wines that capture the essence of our exceptional estate vineyards.” says President and CEO of the Crimson Wine Group, Erle Martin. “Stacy was instrumental in bringing the winery to where it is today, and we are excited to now have Michael on board to build off of our legacy and usher Pine Ridge into a new and exciting era. “
In his new role, Michael will oversee all grape growing and winemaking operations as well as facilities management at our winery. “With the winery’s exceptional reputation and collection of estate vineyards, this position is a winemaker’s dream. I look forward to working with the seasoned team here to continue to produce classically proportioned wines that are the hallmark of Pine Ridge,” says Michael.