California: Sonoma County
What we say
Today’s wine delivers a drinking experience that goes well above its price class, earning it this special QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) alert. Be sure to stock up.
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Mission Codename: That’s where it’s @
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Infiltrate our friends at Rex Family Wines (of Deerfield Ranch fame), whose covert sister label, Arroba is causing a stir. Their fantastic new line delivers real value without sacrificing on quality. Send Agent Red to investigate. If the wine is a great as reports indicate, secure an ample cache for our deserving Operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Arroba Winery
Wine Subject: 2007 @ Merlot
Winemaker: Robert Rex
Backgrounder: 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 – Soft ruby hues with great concentration of color, right out to the edge of the glass, where a fine pink rim shows at the very edge. the wine is perfectly clear, through its darkening heart and when the wine is swirled, it leaves chubby, branching legs that run steadily down the glass.
Smell – Bright aromas of soft cherry, blackberry, cassis and bramble are the first to greet you. As the wine opens up, aromas of earthy black plum, dusty bramble, soft cedar and the perfume of red and purple flowers follow.
Feel – Initially round and very smooth across the entry, soft grip encroaches at the mid-palate. The wine becomes mouth-coating and then softly dry, as a soft minerality spreads an easy dryness from the center of the palate, outward.
Taste – Dark and softly cherry, plum and dark strawberry are followed by currant and hints of dark rose, sweet wood and softest cedar. At the end, a hint of spice and black pepper make a brief appearance.
Finish – Long, bright and juicy, this wine starts sweet and then goes softly tart as bright acids and dark fruit make the mouth water. At the tail end, subtle mixed brown spice and a hint of black pepper show up and then fade quickly, leaving behind a lovely dried rose petal flavor.
Conclusion – I had our tasting panel try this wine blind. I then revealed our selling price and I was met by amazed looks. The consensus was that this 2007 Arroba @ Merlot drinks well above its price class. With juicy and brightly delicious fruit, a terrific feel and great aromatics, this very approachable wine is an easy pairing companion with nearly anything you might throw its way. We enjoyed our review bottles with fresh pizzas, including wine with pepperoni and jalapenos. The wine worked with the myriad of other toppings on the other pizzas and we were all surprised that even the jalapenos could not overpower our palate. The @Merlot stood up, beautifully, to the challenging pepperoni &jalapeno combination. We recommend that you have plenty of bottles on hand for dinner parties, but be sure to keep a small stash for yourself!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER_
SUBJECT: Robert Rex
WINE: 2007 Arroba Merlot Super Secret Undercover Covert Burn-After-Reading Mission
WINE EDUCATION: 39 vintages, getting your hands dirty is the best way to learn
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: I am a chemist by education and a master wine blender by trade. My passion is crafting world-class wines that are rich, full bodied, exceptionally well balanced, and delicious.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Start with the best fruit and finish by taste, not recipe. Great chefs don’t cook with recipes, they cook by taste, that’s how I make wine.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “DELICIOUS!”
AGENT RED: Greetings, Robert. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Arroba Merlot today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
ROBERT REX: Hi Red, good to see you again. You look good, have you lost weight?
RED: Thanks for noticing. It’s from chasing elusive winemaker, like you, around! Tell me, was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
ROBERT: More than anything, it’s all about the experience on the palate. When I was in high school I used to race home to watch Julia Child on TV. Food and wine have always fascinated me; textures, flavors, nuance and layers. In that sense, I’m really a product of my environment; if I lived in New York I’d run a restaurant and since I’m surrounded by the best wine growing region in the world, I’m a winemaker!
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
ROBERT: Hands down, the great Bordeaux. The whole region has such a history full body blends that have been developed by winemakers and not by textbooks. Over millenniums the craft has been handed down, with each generation working to perfect the shape of the wine. If something made the wine taste better – keep doing it, if it didn’t help, then stop. When I first started making wine I poured over books, learning everything I could about the science of wine. I’m a chemist by education, from UC Berkeley, and ultimately what I learned is that the science won’t even get you half way. You have to be able to do the blend, to taste and understand the shape of the wine.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
ROBERT: I make wine because I have passion for it, but that passion is nothing if not shared. So ultimately I’d have to say that I make wine for others. That’s the great thing about wine, it’s art but it’s art that is meant to be consumed. As the artist, my work is appreciated when it’s opened and we raise our glass. As I say on this bottle, this is the wine “@ dinner, @ a party, @ lunch with friends, @home.” The @ wine is all about lifestyle.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
ROBERT: Long before Hollywood convinced an entire generation to stop drinking Merlot, it was one of the Noble Bordeaux reds. Merlot has a great mouth feel, focused on the front of the palate. This Merlot comes from Sonoma County fruit, my personal favorite growing region in the world. This wine is meant to be easily approachable and fun. You’ll find that it opens quickly with light fruit on the front of the palate but crests over the top of your tongue, covering your whole palate. The @ symbol, called Arroba in Spanish, used to be a measure for wine hundreds of years ago. Today, it has a different meaning and is the most recognized symbol in the world. That’s the idea behind this wine, all the history and heritage in a recognizable high tech package built for the modern wine drinker.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
ROBERT: My good friend, Chef Jean Pierre, of The Left Bank Restaurant and Jean Pierre Cooking School, does an amazing meatloaf. He prepares it with veal and pork, wraps it in bacon and covers it in a red wine glaze! For anyone in the Ft Lauderdale area, he does amazing classes. That’s what this wine is all about, the everyday gourmet. Most people hear meatloaf and they think boring, of course they hear Merlot and think weak. Jean Pierre and I share the goal of showing the world our passion in a fun way, a way that people can relate to.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Sonoma region so special?
ROBERT: If you’ve never been to Sonoma, plan a trip. I’ve lived in Kenwood for the last 29 years and there’s something about the people and the energy here. It’s not a region, it’s a lifestyle, and one filled with joy. The French often speak of terroir as a sense of place, an imprint of the unique features of the land on the wine. For me, Sonoma County is an amazing terroir. It’s more than the sum of the soil and the sun, it’s filled with a piece of the many wonderful people enjoying life out here. My growers who prune their vineyards by hand in the morning sun, our crew on the crush pad cracking jokes while sorting through the latest tons of fruit at harvest and the friends sipping a glass by the pool at the end of the day. I can taste that in every bottle.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
ROBERT: Bottling! Haven’t you heard, bottling is the new crush! Harvest days can be long, early morning punch downs, sorting all day, press running round the clock, but bottling is just as crazy, especially for my style. I focus on small handmade lots, the kind that showcase terroir. I put together 30 wines every vintage, with each highlighting the nuance of the fruit and vineyard. Each wine goes through all sorts of trials, by taste of course. I had a friend stop by the house last weekend and his jaw dropped to see 20 glasses of wine on my kitchen table, lined up for tasting trials. Of course he picked his jaw up to help me taste through them. I’m really proud of these new wines, we should catch up in a couple months. I’d love to show them to you.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
ROBERT: Have fun and enjoy, that’s all I ask. I enjoy making wine and I want everyone out there to enjoy drinking it.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
ROBERT: Thanks for drinking the @Wine!
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 approximate location of the Deerfield Ranch Winery, where today’s great wine was born, can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
About This Wine:
Thanks to artisan winemaking techniques and extended barrel aging, this Merlot has a rich fusion of flavors, layered complexity and a long finish. It will hold your interest like no other Merlot.
This wine is where it’s @
@Dinner, @Home, @lunch with friends, this @Arroba Merlot will pair with almost any food and will satisfy the most discerning palate. Sonoma Valley, California is one of the very best places in the world to grow Merlot. The Sonoma Valley Appellation has the perfect weather, with warm dry summer days and cool nights. The soil is volcanic in origin, just what the best wine grapes like the most. The season is long, giving the grapes ample time to produce the best fruit flavors.
As Sonoma winemakers we know how to bring out the best in Merlot, from its generous aromatics toward the front to its full dark cherry and strawberry nuances in the middle. It’s finish, thanks to barrel aging in a combination of French and American oak, is longer than you expect from most Merlot. The already soft Merlot tannins are lengthened and broadened by the extended aging, never out of balance with the medium level acids that gives this wine long life and structure.
@Arroba Winery we source the best Merlot from our compatriot winemakers and blend lots to maximize balance and complexity. Robert Rex, our winemaker, styles the wine, like a great chef styles his signature dishes, bringing together the best ingredients with the best know-how and long experience.
We think you’ll agree, this Merlot is where it’s @.
pH: 3.70, Total Acidity 6.1g/L
Residual Sugar: 0.40% (considered dry)
Barrel Aging: 28 months in 60% French Oak, 40% American.
Bottling: 800 cases, August 17, 2010