What We Say 2003 Gary's Improv Napa Valley Meritage
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 Clif Bar Family Winery.
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EXCELLENT WINE ALERT: Today’s red blend took us by surprise. It’s great!
Mission Codename: An evening with the Improv
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Investigate reports that Clif Bar (yes, that Clif Bar) Family Winery makes serious wines of great quality
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Clif Bar Family Winery
Wine Subject: Gary’s Improv Meritage Red Wine
Winemaker: Rob Hunter
Backgrounder: You know Clif Bar as the company behind nutritious products like the Clif Bar, the Luna Bar and other delicious treats. What you may not know is that the owners of the company started a serious winery that makes fun-to-drink and even excellent wines. We send Agent Red to the Clif Bar Family Winery today, where he discovers today’s Meritage Red Blend – and declares it a winner. Read his tasting profile and mission reports below for full details
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep ruby with a dark heart of black cherry, this wine maintains concentrated color with out to its edges, has a very bouncy surface, shimmering garnet edges and medium legs that run down the glass at different speeds
Smell – Bright and lushly layered with big and rich aromas of ripe fruits of plum, dark cherry, cocoa, toasted vanilla, violets and mild spices of nutmeg and cinnamon
Feel – Great mouth-feel, wonderfully round up front, then the wine tightens up mid-palate with medium tannins and an all-over-mouth coating effect that I really enjoy
Taste – A small explosion of layered flavors, almost mirroring exactly the aromatic qualities of the wine. Add to these flavors additional mild vegital tastes, mild cigar box, toasted oak and mildest herbs
Finish – Big and juicy, then slightly drying with flavors that taper off slowly
Conclusion – This is a delicious red blend! My experience with red blends is simple; I either love them or hate them. There is rarely an in-between and only occasionally is there a real stand out wine. This light-hearted wine not only tastes and smells wonderful, it feels great in the mouth and is really fun to drink. On opening, the wine presents as a bit brash and even a little cloying, but decant for a few hours and the wine really opens up and presents itself as a more balanced and more flavorful wine.
When a red wine blend ‘gets it’, I am usually a sucker for it. When that blend is a Meritage wine, I am instantly assured of the wines component properties. I know that it will be a Bordeaux style blend.
The Meritage Association, says this about Meritage wines:
In 1988, a group of American vintners formed The Meritage Association to identify hand-crafted wines blended from the traditional “noble” Bordeaux varietals including: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec or Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Sauvignon Vert.
“Meritage,” pronounced like “heritage,” is an invented word that combines “merit” and “heritage” — reflecting the spirit of members of The Meritage Association.
Now, onto the wine at hand!
The more I sip it, the more I love this wine and, no, I have not been drinking too much of the wine; I do actually sometimes spit while tasting wines. With as many as 6 wines to taste on a given day, if I didn’t I would be ruined!
Today I had the good fortune to spend the entire day with this wine, opening it mid-morning and sampling it – and then letting it breathe for the entire day, revisiting it throughout. Each time I returned to the wine, I discovered new flavors and aromas. The more time that the wine spent in the air (a giant pour simply sitting in my giant glass) the more juicy and aromatic the wine became. Toward the end of the days tasting, distinct dark chocolate and deep blackberry notes rang out and the wine never lost its great mouth-feel.
Our Operatives tend to love red blends and so I expect this one to be a hot commodity. I love the wine for its quality and drinkability, but I must also admit that some of the heart and soul of the winery and its owners have also swayed my affection.
Gary Erickson & Kit Crawford started Clif Bar in 1992. Since then, they have seen their company raise to great success, both financial and otherwise. In 2000, Gary came this close to signing a $120 million buy out offer from Quaker Oats. fearing that the deal would destroy the soul of the company, Gary backed out. Today Gary and Kit, along with their fellow owner-employees are relentless in their pursuit of social and environmental responsibility. They are committed to creating top quality products, both of the energy bar and the wine varieties.
Gary’s Improve Meritage blend is an improvisation, with each years vintage presenting unique expressions of the people, place and fruit that go into the wine each year. We were fortunate to be able to reach back into Clif’s library of wines in order to bring you today’s special blend…
What the Winery Says
Clif Family Winery
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About The Wine:
This wine was blended from exceptional lots of Napa Valley Merlot from Carneros and Mt. Veeder. The Cabernet adds structure to the blend, creating a wine with the finesse of a Meritage and the softness of a Merlot. A true Improv!
Dense ruby in color with elegant aromas of deep, ripe fruit and hints of spices and toasty vanilla oak. This wine is ripe and soft on the palate with flavors of plum pudding, cocoa, nutmeg and cinnamon, finishing with very soft tannins.
About The Winery:
You may know us as the people behind Clif Bar & Company the owners). We are the makers of Clif Bar, LUNA and other nutritious, organic products. Our passion for food comes out in our convenient packaged products. However, life is not only about portability and convenience.
Much of our life is “slow” as in the slow food movement. We enjoy working in the kitchen preparing delicious artisan foods and enjoying meals with family and friends. Wine plays a big role in these occasions. We want to bring balance, passion and an enjoyment of the simple pleasures in life to all that we do. That is why we have started Clif Family Winery & Farm.
We started Clif Bar & Company. in 1992 with a passion for food, family and adventure. This passion continues in all aspects of our life. We enjoy working in the kitchen preparing delicious artisan foods and sharing meals with family and friends. Wine plays a big role in these occasions.
This lifestyle and our interest in wine led our family to the Napa Valley. We purchased a piece of property with plenty of land to raise horses, goats and chickens and to eventually plant our own vineyards.
In our busy lives, Clif Bar Family Winery & Farm reminds us that we need to slow down. We hope our wines become a part of your own adventure and remind you to slow down and find pleasure in everyday life.
As we move through our busy lives it’s important to find time to slow down, laugh and enjoy each other.
Blend: 87.5% Merlot, 12.5% Cabernet Sauvignon
Release Date: October 2006
Cases Produced: 330 cases
Winemaker: Rob Hunter