Miller Wine Works
2005 The Works, Kimberly’s Selection
California: Napa Valley
What we say
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Mission Codename: Make me one with everything
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Go undercover and
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Miller Wine Works, Kimberly’s Selection
Wine Subject: 2005 The Works Red Blend
Winemakers: Gary Miller
Backgrounder: Wine Spies Operatives love Rhone-style red blends whose primary composition is usually Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre (sometimes referred to as a ‘GSM’). Today’s red Rhone blend leads off with Syrah, giving the wine a more fruity-earthiness that offsets some of the gaminess sometimes associated with California GSM’s. For today’s wine, we sent Agent Red to visit with Gary Miller, from whom he learns the secret of great wine-for-food-making. Read Red’s tasting notes and mission report below for the full details on today’s great wine. Agent Red also learns who Kimberly is!
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark garnet to brilliant ruby red with great clarity and concentrated color right out to the edges of the glass. When I swirl this wine, I observe a fast-moving surface that takes some tome to fully settle. When it does, medium-chubby legs take a long time to appear before they slowly crawl down the glass
Smell – On opening I mistook the deep aromatics for Pinot Noir, but then the Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre in the wine really sang through, delivering an array of aromatic dark berries, black currant, black cherry, thyme, sandalwood, cedar, pepper, cigar box, leather, earth and a hint of tar
Feel – Supple, warm and soft up front, then slightly grippy as the wines medium tannins bite in gently at a space in between the tip of the tongue and the middle. No other wine has presented this unique feel or placement
Taste – Concentrated fruit with big sweet & slightly tart flavors that mirror the aromas – plus additional flavors of rose, spice and fresh strawberry and a hint of toasty mild oak
Finish – Big and lengthy, this wine starts sweet, then goes slightly tart, making your mouth water
Conclusion – Winemaker Gary Miller is also known as Chef Gary, a world-renown creator of fine cuisine. As winemaker and Chef, Gary is in the unique position to be able to craft wines that pair perfectly with foods. A food-friendly wine is one which does not over-power of fatigue your palate. It compliments the food, with wine and food each bringing out the best of the other. Today’s fantastic red blend is a big and bold wine, to be sure, but it also has the acidity and structure to make it a great food wine. Read below for pairing recommendations.
Winemaker Interrogation Report:
Agent Red goes on a ride-along with busy winemaker Gary Miller, for today’s winemaker report:
GARY MILLER: Hey, Red! Over here! Hop in, we’re on schedule if we hit the road now!!
And so our day of adventuring began, on the road at 6am, making our way from Napa, up to Lake County, then down to Marin and, finally, back to Napa.
It’s busy season for most everyone in every facet of the wine business. Especially for winemakers and vineyard managers.
GARY: Okay, buckle in, Red. We’re off!
RED: Excellent, Gary. Thanks for letting me tag along today.
GARY: My pleasure. First stop, Lake County. The grapes there look like they might come in a little ahead of schedule. Maybe as much as 2 weeks early this year.
RED: Overall, how is this years crop looking?
GARY: Northern California growers have seen as much as 20% loss, due to the frost. Our yields will only be down about 10%.
RED: That’s good news. Also good news was the write up I saw on your Syrah in the San Francisco Chronicle last weekend. Congratulations!
GARY: Thanks! That Syrah is a great wine. The Works that you got your hands on is a really special wine, too. Your Operatives will love it.
RED: How did The Works come to be?
GARY: Well, friends had been asking me for a big blend for years. Finally, after test driving a few Mourvèdre, I found the right fruit. Mourvèdre is ugly in the fermenter, a grey mass, but produces unique flavors and aromas that contribute to the fun of this first rendition of The Works.
RED: It really is a great wine. The Grenache shines through as well.
GARY: Yeah, the Grenache is lovely.
RED: On conducting a deep background check on you, Gary, I discovered that you found your way to wine – through food. But, that’s not where you started your professional life. You actually worked in a steel mill and as a financial advisor!
GARY: Yeah, I’ve done it all. My longest career was as a cook, though. That certainly led me to wine.
RED: In doing the background check, I noticed that you refer to yourself as a ‘cook’ again and again, but never as ‘chef’, despite your considerable restaurant experience and your training at the CIA – the Culinary Institute of America. Is this humility?
GARY: In the end, preparing food comes down to one thing: cooking. In the restaurant business, we’re all just cooks. The more techniques we know, the better we can cook. If technique were really paid attention to, we’d all have great food. Great food, like great wine, speaks for itself.
RED: How did your experience with food lead you to a career in wine?
GARY: It was a natural progression, really. Food and wine go hand in hand. Working in some of the finest eating establishments meant that I was also exposed to fantastic wine collections. As a cook, I learned to pair.
RED: That probably contributed to your winemkaing philosophy…
GARY: Exactly! I make wines to be enjoyed with food. The Works is almost liquid food in itself, but pair it with something simple yet exotic and you have an integration of experience.
RED: I actually managed to get my hands on your recipe for Pork Spare Ribs with Ginger BBQ Sauce & Asian Slaw. Mind if I share it with our Operatives?
GARY: Not at all! Its a great pairing. Enjoy!!
At this point, we arrive at the first vineyard and get out of the truck. Its a beautiful morning and the sun is shining on the vineyards. I hang back as Gary meets with the grower. The grapes are in top shape and harvest will, indeed, be ahead of schedule.
Agent Red’s mission with Gary continues, next month, so be sure to sign up for our Daily Dispatch so you don’t miss out on the rest of the story – or the next great wine from Gary Miller!
Top Secret Recipe
Pork Spare Ribs with Ginger BBQ Sauce & Asian Slaw
4 pounds pork spare ribs
½ cup plum sauce
½ cup hoisin sauce
¼ cup ginger , minced
¼ cup garlic, minced
¼ cup green onions, minced
¼ cup chile paste
½ cup rice wine vinegar
½ cup blackberry preserves
¼ cup sesame oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
Whisk all ingredients together
Bake the ribs in your oven at 350 degrees for 90 minutes covered with foil. Cut the ribs after allowing them to cool. Brush generously with sauce. Finish over a low fire on your grill, turning and brushing with more sauce frequently. Serve with warmed sauce on the side, and grilled pineapple to accompany the slaw. Garnish with minced scallions and toasted sesame seeds.
½ cup fish sauce
½ cup rice vinegar
½ teaspoon red chile flakes
½ cup honey
1 cup basil leaves, 1/8 inch ribbons
3 cups cabbage, 1/8 inch ribbons
1 cup shredded carrots
½ cup scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
In a large bowl, combine fish sauce, vinegar, chile flakes and honey, whisk to blend. Add basil, cabbage, carrots, scallions and bean sprouts. Toss to combine. Add grilled pineapple.
What the winery says
About This Wine:
The 2005 Miller Wine Works, The Works, Kimberly’s Selection, Napa Valley is our first attempt to create the Rhone blend so many have requested over the years. It exhibits notes of rose petals, red cherry and kirsch liqueur on the nose. Once on your palate, the wine sings with the essence of dried wild strawberries, framed by accents of spice and earthiness. While medium in body and weight, (and just coming in to its own!), this wine will continue to develop nuance and complexity for some time to come.
With the philosophy deeply ingrained in his psyche that wine is a liquid food, Gary Miller, an accomplished chef, parlayed his career in the food industry to follow his passion…winemaking. Gary has worked for such notable wine producers as La Jota, Martinelli, and Robert Biale. His own brand, Miller Wine Works, is an expression of all the paths Gary’s life has taken, from being raised in a rural, Western New York family to becoming a Napa Valley vintner. As a chef, Gary fully understands the necessity of integration and balance when the fruits of the land intermingle with the fruits of one’s labor. Who better than a chef-winemaker to bring forth skillfully integrated, well-balanced wine?
About The Winery and Winemaker:
Gary Miller – For me, winemaking is cooking. This is something I’ve learned from years of professionally doing both; but, it doesn’t get any better than working with the incredible flavors, textures, and aromas of pristine grapes grown in the sun and soil of the California coast. Winemaking is a tremendous challenge of the senses and demands three things from me: focus, focus, focus.
I grew up in rural, western New York where simple, fresh, homegrown food was an everyday experience. Our meats, milk, bread, fruit, and veggies were from local farms. Many of my earliest memories are the tastes and smells of my mother’s kitchen – bread, Christmas cookies, apple pies, smoked ham, and Thanksgiving turkey. Just picked, juicy, finger-staining huckleberries were hard work, but memorable. When mom canned summer fruit for winter eating, the house would fill with the incredible smells of ripe peaches, tomatoes, strawberries, and pears.
Although my family didn’t succeed on our trips every year, hunting season in the community produced a steady supply of game; and, dad’s grill turned out some very tasty elk, moose and venison. Home cooking for three growing boys made the Miller kitchen a busy place. Little did we know then that this kitchen was cutting a path – paving the road to Miller Wine Works.
The wonderful world of wine opened up to me when I went to college to study engineering, and simultaneously worked in a wine and spirits shop near Purdue University. As a wine buyer, I was exposed to wines from around the world, which got me to daydreaming about California.
Initially however, my passion for cooking got a hold of me, and I found myself in my first cooking job – a short-order lunch cook at a convention center hotel in Greensboro, North Carolina. Soon thereafter, I attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, and was presented with the opportunity to apprentice at the Greenbrier Hotel, in White Sulphur Springs, WV. Thereafter, I couldn’t resist the draw of helping to open the restaurant Spruce in Chicago. This subsequently led to a position at The Little Nell in Aspen, and my westward progress was THEN finalized in the land of my dreams, Napa Valley.
Napa Valley is an amazing place, but not just for its history, natural beauty, and perfect conditions for winegrowing. The people are truly amazing, placing a premium on food, family, friends, and farming. Two such people are Bill and Joan Smith, formerly of La Jota Vineyard Company, for whom I worked, and who dear friends became. Their ongoing support and encouragement inspires me daily; in making wine, and in living life to its potential.
As a winemaker, it is my intent to make wines of the style that made me fall in love with wine – balanced, nuanced wines that speak clearly of their locations, and have affinity for carefully raised and prepared food. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Varietal Content: 48% Syrah, 38% Grenache, 14% Mourvedre
Aging: 24% new French for 20 months
*Titratable Acidity: * 0.57 g / 100 ml.
Release Date: May 1, 2008
Case Production: 511 cases