2007 Reserve Meritage
California: Paso Robles
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Capturing the Essence
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Return to Estancia Estates and secure an allocation of their Reserve Meritage from the exceptional 2007 vintage.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Estancia Estates
Wine Subject: 2007 Reserve Meritage
Winemaker: Scott Kelley
Backgrounder: Meritage (pronounce like ‘heritage’, no French style accent) wine, blends made in the tradition of the great wines of Bordeaux can only carry the name if the winery is a member of The Meritage Association based in Sonoma County. Most wines made in the US are varietal wines, comprised of over 75% of a single varietal. Unfortunately, this labeling requirement is believed to impair many winemakers from making exceptional blends, since they are often labeled as simply Red Table Wine with the noble grapes of Bordeaux. Thus in 1988 Meritage was born as a way to highlight the winemaker’s art of careful blending and crafting of wines in the tradition of some of Europe’s finest wines.
Today’s selection is 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot and 12% Petite Verdot and is aged for 14 months in French and American oak.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dense and dark garnet with deep purple hues and a dark but clear code that shows glistening garnet streaks when held to the light. The color remains dense to the very edges and when swirled fat legs hang on the side of the glass before slowly descending to the wine below.
Smell – Initially a little tight, but your patience will be rewarded with rich aromas of dark red and black fruit, sweet spice, pepper and soft earthy notes. A touch of toasted oak with vanilla caramel hints and wild anise and other green herbs adds depth and complexity.
Feel – Plush and smooth on entry with the finely textured but firm tannins hitting mid-palate and lingering into the finish. Lively acidity and etched minerality grasps the fruit of this well structured wine.
Taste – Layers upon layers of dark ripe and tangy red and black fruit including dark cherry and blackberry. The fruit blends with black pepper, sweet spice, soft herbal notes and a touch of anise blend with dark textured earthy notes that are felt on the palate. Toasted oak and a touch of bittersweet cocoa and vanilla also emerges.
Finish – Very long with this wines textured mineral and tannins lingering as the ripe fruit and sweet spice gently fade away leaving behind just a touch of tart and bitter cherry.
Conclusion – The 2007 Estancia Estates Reserve Meritage is a delicious wine that showcases the exceptional 2007 Paso Robles vintage . Bountiful aromas and flavors along with a sturdy structure makes this wine powerful and masculine. Its complexity adds the depth and character you would expect from Estancia. Enjoy this wine with grilled steaks or simply by itself in front of a cozy fire. Enjoy this wine tonight after decanting for at least one hour or cellar for up to ten years.
Below is a recap of Agent Red’s recent interview with winemaker Scott Kelly when we featured the previous vintage of this wine.
SUBJECT: Scott Kelley, Estancia
PLACE OF BIRTH: Salinas, CA
WINE EDUCATION: UC Davis
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: General Manager and Director of Wine Making-Estancia
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Estancia’s winemaking philosophy continues to be firmly rooted in terroir, with the goal of producing wines that reflect the unique vineyards and appellations in which they are cultivated.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Pinot Noir
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Becoming GM and Director of Winemaking at Estancia.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “It begins and ends in the Vineyard.”
AGENT RED: Greetings, Scott. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Estancia Reserve Meritage today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
SCOTT: Thank you very much. Always happy to chat with the Wine Spies!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
SCOTT: I knew I wanted to do this since I was seventeen. I grew up in agriculture family and had an early interest in chemistry while in high school. I really found winemaking to be the perfect blend of agriculture and chemistry. My older brother was into viticulture as well, so that probably influenced my career direction a bit.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
SCOTT: Growing up I had a lot of varied interests, not just in oenology but also in food science, so I pursued studies in Fermentation Science at the University of California at Davis. In addition to winemaking, I also explored the principles and science behind distillation, food engineering and even a little cheese-making. Since my brother and I were experimenting with home brewing during the summers, I took the opportunity to study at Davis’ Institute of Brewing Studies, eventually earning a Master Brewers Certificate. After Davis, I joined the Carmel Brewing Company, and eventually assembled a brewpub in Monterey from the ground up, formulating the recipes and brewing all the beer that we would serve on tap. I had always enjoyed the engineering side of things such as fluid dynamics and heat transfer, and working in a small brewpub allowed me to be hands-on throughout the brewing process and use some of the mechanical skills I learned growing up.
Ultimately though, I found that brewing didn’t really fulfill my creative side, and I found myself gravitating back toward winemaking. In 2000, I joined the Robert Mondavi family of wines working on a variety of brands that took me from Australia to Italy. These experiences abroad really shaped my philosophy about wine and winemaking, my travels to Italy clarified the synergy between wine and food, while making wine in Australia introduced me to a new approach with a focus on the details and the idea that you only get one chance to make a wine great.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
SCOTT: Winemaking fulfills my artistic side without giving up the innovative hands-on experience that keeps me in touch with my family’s roots in agriculture. I enjoy all of the challenges that each vintage presents in order to shape the style of wines we make at Estancia.. Our winemaking style is one that fully embraces the coastal terroir.
RED: Tell me, what makes the Monterey and the Central Coast region so special?
SCOTT: Born and raised in Monterey County, I have tremendous respect for the climate – the wind and fog and the impact it has on the fruit and wine. Whether it is using less oak in the Chardonnay to protect the tropical characters or fermenting Pinot Noir only in open-top fermenters to respect the silky tannins, I am really passionate about making estate-based wines that have truly have a reason for being.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
SCOTT: Estancia Meritage is a sophisticated, rich, complex and luscious wine harvested from the distinctive terroir of our Keyes Canyon Ranch and the Paso Robles AVA.. The 2006 Meritage was a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 8% Petite Verdot. This wine has vibrant, dark black cherries with hints of anise, rosemary and sage. Accents of chocolate powder and soft oak. Intense flavors of chocolate dipped black fruit, accompanied by notes of sweet oak. Wonderfully structured ripe tannins lead to a nice long, fruit driven finish.
In 1999, Estancia planted its Keyes Canyon Ranch, covering nearly 700 acres of vineyards in appellation of Paso Robles. This unique appellation is home to more extreme temperature swings than any other wine-growing region in California. During the day, the vines bask in the warm sunshine and at night they are soothed by a cool marine layer from the Pacific Ocean. In addition, the infertile soils and rugged terrain of Keyes Canyon, encourages the vines to yield small fruit clusters with tiny berries packed full of rich berry tones.
The 2006 harvest was compact due to a wet spring, cooler than average summer, and then a record blast of heat at veraison. September 26th marked the beginning of harvest which continued through October 26th.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
SCOTT: I think this wine is very versatile, but it would marry particularly well with steak or nicely grilled rack of lamb.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
SCOTT: When I am not making wine, my fiancée Dena and I try to find time to pursue one of our many hobbies. We golf, cook, hunt, scuba diving and we go fly fishing for Steelhead in Oregon.
RED: What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
SCOTT: It’s tough to pick a “favorite” as it really depends on what time of year it is or what we might be enjoying for dinner. Pinot Noir is always a favorite, and I have to say that that the more we play around with the Grenache fruit that we have on some of our Estate properties the more excited I am getting about that varietal.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
SCOTT: Thanks, this has been a lot of fun. I hope everyone enjoys the Meritage…it’s one of my favorite wines to make each year.
Wine Spies Winery Check:
The location of the Estancia Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Deep crimson. Vibrant blackberries and cherries, with nuances of anise and sage, accents of chocolate and sweet oak. Intense flavors of black cherries and currants, framed by dusty tannins providing an elegant and lingering finish.
About The Winery:
Estancia: Capturing the Esssence of “Place”
Roughly translated from the Spanish word for “estate,” Estancia’s name emphasizes our founder, Augustin Huneeus’ conviction that the world’s best wines capture the essence of their place of origin.
Huneeus was Chilean by birth and had been in the international wine business 25 years when he became a partner and acting president of Franciscan Vineyards in 1985. His experiences in South America and Europe gave him special insight on site selection and fueled his belief that good wine should uniquely express the place in which it’s grown.
In 1986, he purchased the former Paul Mason vineyard ranches in the Monterey town of Soledad and established it as the home of Estancia Winery and of cool climate varietals, planting the Pinnacles Vineyards to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
In 1999, almost 700 acres in Paso Robles were purchased as the vineyard base for Estancia Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel and Red Meritage.
Today, our founder’s terroir-based belief continues with controlled farming practices and a company-wide commitment to high quality at an affordable price.
About The Winemaker:
Scott Kelley joined Estancia in the spring of 2007 as Director of Winemaking. In this role at Estancia, Scott is responsible for the day-to-day activities of winemaking. Some of these daily activities will include walking the vineyards, tasting each barrel to determine blending, aging and bottling, and working directly with the cellar to craft each wine with its own distinct flavor profile.
From the time Scott was 17 he knew he wanted to be a winemaker. Born and raised on a small ranch outside Salinas, California, his family has always been connected to agriculture. After one high school summer of working as a sugar sampler and mechanic for a vineyard management company in Soledad, Scott decided to combine his passion for chemistry and agriculture by pursuing a college education in enology.
Directly after graduating college, Scott began a short stint as an assistant brewmaster for Carmel Brewing Co. in Salinas, managing all aspects of brewing from grain to glass. A year later, he joined Golden State Vintners in Napa Valley as a laboratory supervisor then was promoted to cellar master and eventually assistant winemaker. Following Golden State Vintners, Scott then worked as a winemaker for La Famiglia and then Robert Mondavi Private Selection before joining Estancia in 2007.
Scott earned a Bachelor of Science degree in fermentation science from the University of California at Davis and was also awarded a Certification of Master Brewers Program. An avid outdoorsman, Scott enjoys golf, hunting and fly-fishing for Steelhead in Oregon. He currently resides in south Monterey County and is soon to be married to his fiancee, Dena.
Appellation: Paso Robles
Varietal Composition: 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot
Oak Aging: 14 months in French and American oak