What We Say 2004 Sonoma County Reserve Merlot
If you are visiting us for the first time, Welcome! The Wine Spies feature one exceptional wine each day – and we only bring you wines that we ourselves seek out and love. Always, the wines are great. Sometimes greater than great, as is the case with today’s wine from Huntington Wine Cellars.
Wine Spies Exclusive Alert!
Today we are pleased to bring you another Wine Spies Exclusive. This fantastic Sonoma County Reserve Merlot is a limited release wine that is usually only available in the Huntington Wine Cellars tasting room and on a limited basis to members of their wine club. The Wine Spies, through TOP SECRET negotiations with our inside operatives were able to secure an allocation of this great wine for our operatives.
Mission Codename: Falcon’s View
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Scout out another great winery-exclusive wine for our dedicated field Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Huntington Wine Cellars
Wine Subject: 2004 Sonoma County Reserve Merlot
Winemaker: Kerry Damskey
Backgrounder: Once again, The Wine Spies scoop a fantastic exclusive that you can’t buy in your local bottle shop or corner grocery. Through special relationships with wine producers, growers and suppliers, we are able to secure special allocations of wine that you won’t find anywhere else. You have two choices when buying todays wine – Go to the winery in beautiful downtown Healdsburg, California, or pick some up here during our limited-time sale.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep red and garnet in color with thick edges
Smell – Balanced aromas of cherries and fruit with hints of licorice and aromatic flowers
Feel – Solid tannic structure with warm characteristics that fill your mouth
Taste – Great balanced flavors of dark cherries and plums with a hint of sweetness balanced with complex layers of black licorice, mocha and a hint of earthiness indicative of its Terroir
Finish – This wine finishes long and robustly, lingering in your mouth and inviting another sip
Conclusion – This Merlot shows a particular sophistication with its balance between ripe fruit and subtle licorice, pepper and earthiness. Merlot continues to be a crowd-pleasing wine as it has so much to offer to so many different people. Merlot continues to be one of our favorite grape varietals showing tremendous character, soft and smooth fruit and great richness.
I love this sort of mission: After an urgent call from Central Command, I sprang into action to find a winery-“only” wine for our field Operatives.
As a spy, I am required to think fast – and press appropriate resources into service on a moments notice. I am dedicated to my craft and my personal network of assets in the field is world-class – and wine-industry deep.
Today I called, once again, on one of my most trusty wine informants, Codename: Stone_. A flurry of phone calls, a little old-fashioned greasing of some wheels (_don’t call it bribery) and a clandestine rendezvous later and I had in my hands an absolute superstar of a wine… as became apparent after a brief in the field swirl-and-sip session.
Today’s wine is only available directly from the winery. How, exactly, do we get our hands on these wines? Its all about quality connections and sharing the love. Our dedication to our Operatives and to our wineries is felt by all involved.
Wine Spies Technical Analysis:
Oak: New and aged French oak, 18 months
Release Date: March 01, 2007
Varietal Notes: 100% Merlot
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The grapes for this superb wine were grown in two great vineyards
The location of the Nevins Vineyards in Alexander Valley can be seen in this satellite photo.
The location of the Nelson Vineyards in Bennet Valley can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Huntington Wine Cellars
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About This Wine:
The 2004 Merlot is blended from Alexander Valley-Nevins Vineyard and Bennett Valley (Sonoma County’s newest appellation)-Nelson Vineyard. The nose exhibits aromas of dark cherry, chocolate and pepper with a hint of terroir. On the palate is cherry and plum with a touch of black licorice. It has been beautifully bottled in our limited edition artist series bottle. Pair with a Porterhouse Steak in a Cognac Green Peppercorn Sauce.
The Huntington Wine Cellar’s Falcons:
Clouds of starlings undulating low across the Wine Country landscape are a common sight during harvest time of year. Next time you see one, think of William Shakespeare and Huntington Wine Cellars.
Shakespeare’s single reference to starlings in Henry IV inspired Eugene Schiffelin to import some 60 of the European birds to New York’s Central Park in 1890. It seems Eugene held the haplessly romantic view that all birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works should be represented in the New World.
Over a century and 200 million avian offspring later, the European starling has become a virulent threat to the United States wine industry. Thousands strong, a flock of starlings can alight upon a vineyard and decimate it in minutes as the hungry birds tear apart ripening grapes to extract the seeds inside.
Huntington Wine Cellars is at the forefront in managing the threat posed by starlings in an environmentally sensitive way. In a twist on the ages-old sport of falconry, Huntington uses falcons to scare off—not kill—the starlings before they can inflict damage on the vineyard. As harvest approaches, Huntington contractor Jim Tigan who owns Tactical Avian Predators launches daily falcon patrols to guard vineyards at most risk to starling damage. Huntington commemorates this sustainable agricultural practice by using the falcon as its corporate symbol, included on the label of every Huntington wine.
Once harvest is finished, the falcons will be rewarded with time off and extra rations of fresh quail – purchased from a restaurant supplier – before returning to their other job of airport protection. The grapes go on to become wine, and all’s well that ends well.
The Vineyards and Winemaking:
Based in Healdsburg, California, Huntington wines are produced from small lots of select varietal grapes from several unique vineyard sources throughout California. Vineyards such as Stuhlmuller in Alexander Valley, Mauritson and Preston Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley, Nelson Vineyard in Alexander Valley, Nevins Vineyard in Bennett Valley, Herrick Vineyard in Russian River Valley, Mettler Vineyard-Lodi and Doctor’s Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands are some of the vineyards that contribute to the production of Huntington’s world-class wines.
We are committed to crafting each wine with the utmost attention to detail, taking every step possible to ensure that our wines are the truest expression of both their variety and terroir. The wines express the fruit from which they are made and the vintage in which they are grown, with all other elements in balance to complement the fruit.
Huntington wines have the richest, most intense flavors with unique character. It is fitting then that the visual identity of Huntington includes a majestic falcon on the label. Each vintage of Huntington wine boasts a unique label known as “Drinkable Art”, a reproduction of a work of fine art incorporating Huntington’s signature falcon painted by artist in residence Ken Schilling.
Kerry Damskey, Winemaker – Bigger than life Kerry Damskey leaves a lasting impression on everyone he meets and is best described as the personification of lust for life. Kerry believes that wine is made in the vineyard and the winemaker is merely the “midwife” in the artisan process of winemaking. "It’s the winemaker’s job to articulate a definable style for a wine but you don’t create an identity – that must come from the grapes.” Kerry is the founding winemaker of Huntington, having been personally involved with the brand since its beginning in 1989. He holds a degree in fermentation science from UC Davis, is a graduate of the intensive program for small business at Stanford University School of Business, and additionally is a candidate of the Institute of the Masters of Wine. He is one of California’s top winemakers and one of a very few to win twice, the coveted ‘Sweepstakes’ award from the Sonoma County Harvest Fair.