2003 Riserva d'Argento Merlot
Merlot •Bliss Vineyards
California: Mendocino County
What We Say
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 even better than that, as is the case with today’s wine from Brutocao Cellars.
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT!
We always feature great wines, but today’s wine is incredibly great! Grab some, Operative, before we run out…
Shipping Included on 6 bottles or more. Enter this coupon code at checkout (discount will be shown before you complete your order): MERLOTSPY
Mission Codename: Richly, lusciously, deeply
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Investigate the reports that have been pouring in that suggest that Brutocao Cellars may have created a perfect Merlot
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Brutocao Cellars
Wine Subject: 2003 Riserva d’Argento Merlot
Winemaker: Fred Nickel
Backgrounder: The Wine Spies know that all wines have the potential for perfection so when we began receiving intel on Brutocao Cellars’ Reserve Merlot, we leaped at the chance to taste it for ourselves. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report below to find out why Agent Red is so enraptured with this particular Merlot
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Delicious red raspberry jello in color with a very loose, fast-settling (weighty?) surface and close-spaced legs that run down the glass at greatly varying speeds (a unique attribute!)
Smell – A massive dose of red raspberry and ripe cherry hit the up-front nose, then the giant aromas that follow are a killer mixture of charred oak, black coffee, black currant, perfumed black violets, bubblegum, exotic fruits and a hint of fresh mint. With so much going on in the nose, you would think that this wine could come off as confused. It does not. On the contrary, the aromatics in this wine are layered and in harmony.
Feel – Delicate, smooth, warm and wet at very first, then the wine really takes hold by coating your entire mouth and drying your palate with rich, medium tannins that don’t suck the life out of your mouth
Taste – Layers of rich flavor that mimic the aromas almost perfectly, with additional sweetness, an earthen quality plus smoky and musky undertones that make the wine even more intriguing
Finish – Deep warm flavors remain on the palate long after your last sip goes down gently, warming your chest, drying the tongue slightly, making the lips purse and making you wish you had purchased just a few more bottles
Conclusion – Put succinctly, this is a fabulous wine. In more blustery terms, this Merlot, from a very talented and Wine Spies-revered producer, is gorgeous, delicious and flat out great. If you are a fan of Merlot – and let’s face it, statistically, you are as the most popular varietal sold in America today is Merlot – you know that its profile, its structure and acidity, are what make it a perfect companion wine for so many meals or occasions. If you love Merlot and have been clamoring for a stupendous example, savor this gem from our new bestest Merlot-buds, Brutocao Cellars!
Okay, I’ll stay off my Merlot Soapbox today. You won’t be getting my usual rant. Its old, I know.
Those Operatives that know me well, know by now that I am a staunch defender of this grape and the wines that flow from its fermented juices. Our Operatives also know that the movie, Sideways, dealt an aparent blow to Merlot by trashing it soundly.
I have proselytized long and hard and now I can simply hang it up. Why?, you ask. Its simple;
Its all in the data.
By analyzing purchase statistics in the United States, our W.I.N.E. (Wine Internet Nexus Engine) has determined that Merlot is the Heavyweight Champion of Wine, out-pacing all other varietals. A wine-phony, or a person easily fooled by Hollywood BS may be dissuaded from buying Merlot, but I don’t call those people friend.
Sorry, for not wanting to rant, it looks like I sort of did. My apologies.
Now, on to my mission report:
Brutocao proved a difficult target. As you know, we place most wineries under surveillance for a somewhat short interval before we procure some quantity of wine for you. On rare occasions, wineries prove difficult. Brutocao proved nearly impossible, but I never let that stop me. With reputed quality so good, you know I won’t give up until I score you the juice!
The problem was simple: High demand for Brutocao wines meant that vetting all of the right players too some time. This guy is out of town accepting an award, that one is fending off rabid retailers, hungry to up their allocations, etc. We never procure a wine, we never recommend a wine until we have the full intel on a winery – and their goods.
In the end, my persistence and perseverance paid off. Everyone at the winery was stellar. All of them, friendly and warm people. Each of them passionate about their wines and about making the best wines ever.
Heavy with wine, I made my final departure from the winery (after many a repeat visit), and sped back to my secret lair to evaluate the wines. I started with today’s Reserve Merlot, as this was the wine most sought after by our Operatives. Other wines from Brutocao will be featured in the coming months.
This Merlot is a big, fragrant, layered and delicious wine with great structure and the acidity to make it a perfect pairing partner with most foods that I could throw at it.
If I ever rant about Merlot again, it’ll likely be a rant about how this Merlot, from Brutocao Cellars, should be the new gold-standard!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the VINEYARD can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
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About This Wine:
Aromas of ripe black cherries and chary oak draw attention toward the voluminous and visceral varietal offering. Sweet smoke and dense tannin match with dark cherry, currant and coffee flavors to highlight the range and richness of our 2003 Reserve Merlot. Always entertaining hints of dark chocolate, mint and rich earth make this another voluptuous visage from the vineyards of Brutocao for you.
About The Winery:
Winemaking traditions often begin around the table. Brutocao Cellars’ roots go back three generations to a Venice, Italy dinner table.
When the Brutocao family came to the New World and married into the Bliss family of farmers, it was only natural that they would combine their passions and become grape growers and winemakers.
Today, the family still blends their Italian heritage with their rural agricultural lifestyle to make some of California’s finest wines.
Grandfather Irv Bliss purchased our Mendocino County property in 1943. The Brutocao family released their first wine with the 1980 vintage. Shortly thereafter, they chose the Lion of St. Mark, modeled after the lion on top of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice, Italy, as their symbol of family tradition and quality. That quality comes from the location of their 400 acres of vineyards in southern Mendocino County.
The Brutocao family tradition of serving wine at the table means wines are produced with good food and good friends in mind.
Grapes: Bliss Block #5 (merlot clone #3 on 5-bb rootstock), Hopland, CA
Aspect: Alluvial/sandy loam soils with good drainage, Sustainably farmed, VSP cordon trellis system
Harvest: Hand picked 9/9 tons starting September 18th
At Harvest: degree brix 24.2, 0.41 TA, 3.61 pH
Production: Morning loads only, stemmed and lightly crushed to 1/2-ton open top fermentation bins. No SO2, 48 hour cold soak prior to fermentation. M-2 yeast, punch down 2-3 times a day. Lots remained 13 days on the skins. Pressed to tank, ML inoculation, settled 72 hours, racked to the barrel. All French oak for 22 months, 40% new. Blended in 15% Cabernet Sauvignon from our Contento Ranch: blocks #4 and #6 (clones #336 and #4).
Processing: Fresh egg white fined. UNFILTERED
Bottled: August 2005
Production: 240 cases