2006 Los Carneros Pinot Noir
California: Napa Valley: Carneros
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
We maintain very high standards for the wines that we select for you, and when one exceeds that standard, we issue a special alert. Delicious, complex and fruit-driven, today’s Pinot Noir from McKenzie-Mueller easily earns this recognition.
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Mission Codename: Viva Carneros!
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Infiltrate the McKenzie-Mueller Vineyards & Winery and acquire an allotment of their delicious, Napa Carneros Estate Bottled Pinot Noir
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: McKenzie-Mueller Vineyards & Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 Carneros Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Bob Mueller
Backgrounder: Some of our favorite California Pinot Noir comes from the independent Carneros viticultural area, a wine growing region which straddles the Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley. Originally designated in 1983, the region’s distinct Terroir and cool climate make it one of the best regions for the Burgundian varietals of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The first grapes were planted here in the early 1800s by missionaries. The cool Carneros region provides ideal growing conditions for Pinot Noir, which thrives here.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Ruby red color, when viewed from the side or top. The wine is perfectly clear, and color remains concentrated, right out to its pink edges. Swirl the wine and view it from the side and it takes on a lighter pink hue. The wine settles quickly, leaving behind chubby, branching legs that appear slowly, and then streak down the glass.
Smell – Sweet cherry leaps from the glass, setting the stage for lush follow-on aromas of strawberry, sweetwoods, raspberry and wet forest floor after a spring rain (yes, really). After the wine opens up, sweet raspberry, supple leather and hints of flint and gunpowder emerge.
Feel – Soft, round and light-weight – but only on the very initial entry. Across the mid-palate, the wine takes on a soft weightiness. Plush tannins and a bright acidity give the wine an exciting structure that support the fruit and drive flavors. After a moment, a fine dryness spreads from center-palate, to the lips and cheeks.
Taste – Smoky young strawberry and black cherry take the lead. These concentrated fruit flavors are joined by softly smoky cranberry, red currant, black currant, redwood bark, soft spice, flinty minerals and subtle gunpowder.
Finish – Very long, with flavors that seem to take forever to tail off. Flavors begin red and fruity, and then go earthen, softly smoky, flinty – and at the very end, softly spicy.
Conclusion – McKenzie-Mueller’s 2006 Napa Carneros Pinot Noir is a delicious, inviting and very approachable wine. Loaded with bright red fruit, a wonderful earthen character sits just below, adding intrigue and complexity. The nose is powerful and filled with fruit, spice and that Carneros gunpowder aromatic that we love so much. Pair this bright wine with nearly anything, but we would recommend a roasted chicken or pork tenderloin. Be sure to sample the wine all on its own, as it delivers the sort drinking experience that will have you sniffing, sipping and discussing the wine as you pour glass after delicious glass.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Bob. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Los Carneros Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
BOB: Thank you for giving us this opportunity.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
BOB: growing up and working in our family vineyard, and then making homemade wine from those same grapes(Zinfandel) that were planted pre-prohibition.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
BOB: The great wines of Europe and the Robert Mondavi family
RED: Who do you make wine for?
BOB: I guess that I make wine for myself with a consumer’s hat on. You can’t please everyone, as each of us is our own best taster. What varietals we choose to make, and in what style, is a personal decision but with the consumer in mind.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
BOB: Our 2006 Pinot Noir is soft and balanced offering aromas of toasted oak, vanilla, plum, blackberries, and a hint of cherries. Flavors of black currant and berry pie finish nicely. The earthy undertones, acidity and tannins are integrated and carry a long complex finish.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
BOB: Grilled Salmon with Wild Rice and Balsamic Marinated Portabella mushrooms.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Carneros region so special?
BOB: It is really an interaction of the soil, the climate, and of course the farming, or viticultural practices. We are a bit cooler here in the southern end of the valley with limited soils and water holding capacity that translates into more flavorful grapes at harvest.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
BOB: Besides the regular blending and tasting there seems to be more and more compliance issues from the County, the State, and the Federal Government.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
BOB: Taste and try many wines to find your current preferences. In the end, wine is a great accompaniment to most any meal. And enjoy.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
BOB: Wine is for everyday. And don’t forget about those wines you purchased and put away for later enjoyment.
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 McKenzie-Mueller Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
This is the wine that made Los Carneros famous, and it is also one of the most challenging varietals, both from the wine growing and wine making standpoint. The grape is notoriously thin-skinned, and it is difficult to get all of its components integrated and in balance. One of the first wines we produced, our Pinot Noir is consistent with the typical Los Carneros Pinot: silky fruit and oak balanced with a spicy black cherry note. This is a light to medium-bodied wine.
About The Winery:
McKenzie-Mueller Vineyards and Winery History: McKenzie-Mueller is a small, family-run winery committed to making high quality wines. Founded in 1989 by Bob Mueller and Karen McKenzie, our fifty acre estate is tucked away in the enchanting Los Carneros region of southern Napa County. We made our first vintage in 1990, producing 500 cases. We now produce 2500 cases a year. We are proud to be named Estate Winery of the Year in 2000 by Wine & Spirits magazine.
Bob and Karen were both raised in the Napa Valley, where Bob grew up working the family farm. After Bob graduated from UC Davis, he and Karen met over a vat of Zinfandel grapes, and it’s been love, wine and kids ever since! To say that our winery is a family operation would be an understatement. Our five children have each helped out in winery operations, and the handful of employees who aren’t directly related to us have become family over the years. Bob is the wine grower and wine maker, and Karen has made it all possible wearing her different hats: homemaker, office manager, and tour and tasting guide. Now a high school art teacher, her love of people and approachable style continue to guide McKenzie-Mueller winery.
Our goal is to have fun, farm in harmony with nature, and make delicious, hand-crafted wine that you will enjoy with family and friends. We’d love for you to be a part of our family; please call to arrange a visit!
Our Vineyards: All of our wines are Estate produced and bottled, and come from our two vineyards: Big Ranch Road in Oak Knoll and Los Carneros.
Settled at the southern end of the Oak Knoll District, our Big Ranch Road vineyard has been home to our Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes since 1979. Formerly a prune orchard, the soil is rich, deep and loamy. The gentle slopes and warm temperature create an environment that makes this AVA famous for lush red wines.
Our Los Carneros vineyard is nestled in the rolling hills north of the San Pablo Bay, the northern-most part of the San Francisco Bay. The cooler temperatures and shallow topsoil combine to create the potential for high quality wines. As the vines struggle to survive in the heavy clay subsoil, the maritime influence allows the grapes a longer hang time, giving them softer tannins and more developed flavors. The Los Carneros AVA is renowned for producing world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and is where we grow our Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Malbec as well as Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Our Philosophy and Style: We began as wine growers—farmers who wanted to produce grapes that would make great wines. With Bob as the wine grower, vineyard manager, and winemaker, we feel we embody the combination of agriculture and winemaking that used to be so prevalent in the Napa Valley.
We are committed to using farming practices that leave the softest impact on the soil and land. We are helped in our efforts by the owls and hawks who continue to inhabit the eucalyptus trees surrounding our estate, keeping watch over our vines and eliminating predators that would feast on young vines.
Every part of our operation is done by hand, from the planting and pruning, to the harvesting and selecting. Our fermentation techniques vary according to the varietals, but all fermentation occurs either in stainless steel tanks or 1/2 ton open-top fermenters. After fermentation, all red wines go to oak barrels, and all whites are housed in either stainless steel tanks or neutral barrels. All of our wines are bottled unfiltered. We are uncompromising in our methods, and the result is wine that is an authentic expression of the vineyard and the fruit.