Rutherford Grove

2007 Pestoni Family Howell Mountain Estate Reserve Merlot


California: Napa Valley: Howell Mountain

Offer Expired:May 18, 2012 at 11:59 pm
Avg. Price

What We Say


We only sell wines that we live, but when we’re really crazy about one, we issue this special alert. Today’s Merlot is nothing short of fantastic!


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Mission Codename: Above the Fog

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Merlot is not frequently featured here, not because we don’t love the food-fantastic varietal, but because we are so picky. Respond to Operative requests for a great Merlot by sending Agent Red to our friends at Rutherford Grove Winery. Investigate their premium Howell mountain Reserve Merlot. If the wine is superb, secure an ample allocation.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Rutherford Grove Winery and Vineyards

Wine Subject: 2007 Pestoni Family Howell Mountain Estate Reserve Merlot

Winemaker: Andy Pestoni

Backgrounder: Merlot, one of the primary grape varietals from Bordeaux finds an exceptional home in the Napa Valley. Napa County’s Howell Mountain AVA, established in 1984 is known for its wines of deep concentration and intensity. The higher elevation and relatively flat aspect make the location great for vineyards, and specifically Bordeaux varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The first vines in the Howell Mountain area were planted in the 1880s.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Deep ruby hues with a slightly darker core, this wine shows a pretty magenta ring at the edge of the glass. After swirling the wine, tall, skinny, widely-spaced, wine-stained tears form high up on the glass wall, before rocketing downward.

Smell – Fragrant and lush with pronounced black cherry, dusty bramble, blackberry and dried cranberry out in the lead. Swirl the wine and you’ll coax out additional aromas of boysenberry, raspberry, cracked leather, subtlest cracked pepper and a hint of fresh mint at the very back of the nose.

Feel – Soft and round at the front of the palate, the wine then introduces a soft dryness at the edges of the palate. Gradually, this dryness spreads inward, eventually drying the cheeks and lips. Soft, integrated tannins balance against the juicy bright acidity of the wine.

Taste – Sweet dried cherry, dried cranberry, strawberry and raspberry take the lead. Leather, soft oak, bramble, black pepper and shaved dark chocolate follow behind.

Finish – Very long, slightly dry and loaded with red fruit flavors that give way to leather, spice, chocolate and black pepper at the very end.

Conclusion – Ahhhh. When a Merlot is great, it is great. Today’s 2007 2007 Pestoni Family Howell Mountain Estate Reserve Merlot from Rutherford Grove Winery is, you guessed it, great. Juicy, complex, bright and delicious, this is a very food-friendly and flexible wine that will pair with almost anything. We paired our review bottles with grilled pizzas. See our recipe, below. the pairing was absolutely perfect. If you love Merlot, we’re confident that you’ll fall in love with this special, high-elevation delight from our friends at Rutherford Grove Winery.

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Rutherford Grove Winery and Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

Awards & Accolades:

Double Gold MedalSan Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition – January 2011

92 PointsWine & Sprits Magazine – The Pestoni’s farm three acres of Merlot on the eastern slopes of Howell Mountain. Tannins drive this wine from the initial scent right through the finish, an earthy, red volcanic soli-driven character that begins to relent with air. The finish becomes juicy, with the flavor of dark skinned blueberries and an exotic spice, brining coriander and curry to mind. A substantial Merlot, this will benefit from several years of age. Or decant it for roast boar – June 2011

About This Wine:

Our 2007 Estate Reserve Merlot is produced
from our Howell Mountain Estate vineyard located on Summit Lake Drive. Thirteen acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and three acres of Merlot are planted on this 160-acre mountain ranch at an elevation of over 2,000 feet. Soil and weather conditions of this mountain vineyard are challenging, but worth the extra effort as it produces a wine with great flavor, intensity and aging properties.

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.

Technical Analysis:

Varietals: 85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon

Appellation: Howell Mountain Estate Vineyard

Alcohol: 14.2%

Barrel Aging: 32 Months in oak barrels, 80% French oak 20% American Oak, 40% new , 30% 1-year old, 30% 2 year old

Winemaker: Andy Pestoni

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