2005 Monterey Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir •Mesa del Rio, Viento & Riverview
California: Monterey County
What we say
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Mission Codename: It is the Grapes
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Locate and procure a great Pinot Noir in Monterey County
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Scheid Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2005 Estate Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Kurt Gollnick
Backgrounder: In America, most Pinot Noir comes from California, particularly from wineries in Napa and Sonoma. At least, that what you would assume. With greater frequency, we are receiving reports of great Pinot Noir from Monterey County. With Wine Spies Operatives feeding us intel on their favorite Monterey County Pinot Noir, one winery keeps appearing. For today’s mission, Agent Red was sent to infiltrate Scheid Vineyards – in order to assess and possible procure their Estate Pinot Noir. Read his tasting notes and mission report below
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep ruby red to slightly garnet with perfect clarity and sparkling edges, with a bouncy surface and fat, tightly-spaced legs that take a long time to emerge
Smell – Deep and warm aromatics of raspberry, cherry, candy apple, vanilla, and earth, with subtle tones of mocha, spice, gunpowder and a hint of dried meats
Feel – Soft and round with an initial wetness that is soon replaced with an emerging dryness as the wines soft tannins appear
Taste – Rich and dark, with concentrated flavors of cherry, raspberry, softest fresh herbs and black fig with leather and soft spice
Finish – Long, lush and tender with sweet flavors that tail off slowly
Conclusion – This is a superb wine! Decant for an extended period and you will be mightily rewarded. On opening, the wine seems a little taught, with a hard edge and tight flavors. Allow it some breathing time and, wow, major difference with a softness that emerges alongside beautiful fruit and deep aromas. This wonderful Estate Pinot Noir from Scheid is a shining example of how great Monterey County Pinot Noir can be.
I finally cracked Scheid! Am I glad I was persistent.
Being a Wine Spy sometimes requires a great patience, diligence, and perseverance. In the case of Scheid, all three were required in great measure. However, as a wise man once said, “Good things come to those who wait”. Hallelujah to that!
After an extended initial surveillance of the numerous Scheid vineyards and facilities, I went in for a covert tasting. Disguised in a bow tie and straw hat, I donned the disguise of southern gentleman.
I spent the afternoon tasting through their line, taking copious noted – and enjoying myself thoroughly. Once I knew which wines to attempt to secure for our Operatives, I made my usual moves of winning friends and making contact.
I found Scheid to be a different sort of winery when I first tried to make contact. I stated my intentions, but they seemed aloof, maybe just very very busy. And, busy they certainly are, because while Scheid makes its own superb wines, they also grow grapes for some of the finest wineries in the business.
I tried to develop assets within the winery, but, again, no luck. At each turn, I was passed along to one friendly winery staffer or another, but no traction. I even posed as an International Distributor, interested in numerous wines. At each step, I found myself at a dead end. I was never flatly denied, but things just sort of stalled out.
This only made me want their wines all the more!
It wasn’t until earlier this summer that I met a new Scheid staffer. Finally, I had Shcheid’s ear and was about to gain access to their juice for our thirsty Operatives.
It turned out that Scheid had been undergoing something of a metamorphosis as a winery, with even more of an emphasis being placed on the superior quality of their fruit. Also emerging was their desire for more elegant direct connections with their customers. An example of this direct connection will manifest itself soon, in the opening of its gorgeous new tasting lounge in Monterey’s historic Cannery Row.
Stay tuned here for more details on the new tasting lounge. We had an ‘under construction’ preview and we are thrilled to report that the new lounge will be incredible. We have managed to covertly acquire a pair of tickets to the ‘secret preview party’ that takes place later this month, and we’ll be sure to report on the even the next time we bring you another stellar Scheid wine.
Today’s Pinot Noir is a great wine with a fantastic QPR. If you are looking for a great PN, with a great price, look no further. This wine expresses the uniqueness of Monterey County’s perfect for Pinot Terroir.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
Observe some of the many acres of Scheid vineyards in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
About This Wine:
Pinot Noir, the most temperamental of grape varieties, requires careful handling from vineyard to bottle. Handcrafted to exacting standards, our 2005 Pinot Noir is a rich, full-bodied wine with aromas of vanilla and wild berry and a long, smooth finish.
About The Vineyards:
The cool temperatures, decomposed granite soils, and good sun exposure of Riverview Vineyard, Viento Vineyard and Mesa del Rio Vineyard make perfect sites to achieve an intensely colored and well-balanced Pinot Noir. The grapes for our 2005 Pinot Noir were picked by hand on in early September.
Arriving at the winery, the grapes were destemmed, crushed, and fermented in small lots in open top fermenters. Over the next two weeks, the firm “cap” of skins and seeds that bubble up and form on the surface during red fermentation was “punched down” (that is, the cap was broken up and submerged). Punching down gives the skins as much contact with the fermenting wine as possible, allowing the color and the phenols from the skins to be transferred to the wine. The wine was barreled into 100% French oak.
About The Winery:
To summarize the essence of a company in a one or two sentence mission statement is a daunting task. On the surface, our job at Scheid Vineyards is to supply our winery clients with the grapes they need at an acceptable price and at the highest quality possible. But it goes much deeper than that. For to supply a particular client with particular grapes implies an understanding of the specific wine and style being made and the knowledge of how to custom farm to achieve that profile. Say, a certain Sauvignon Blanc customer produces a grassy, herbaceous style of wine while another client aims for a more floral and fruitier character. Same grape, different approach. That’s where the “intelligent effort” part comes in.
So we chose for our mission statement a quote by Mr. John Ruskin that we felt perfectly captured our philosophy. Ruskin has been called one of the greatest writers and thinkers of the 19th century. He was also a bit of a lunatic. The only child of a prosperous wine merchant (you see? already a wine connection), he was a recognized poet at an early age and grew to become a prolific and renowned art critic, publishing some 250 works. One of the most well-known, “The Stones of Venice”, is a three volume architectural study of Venice, Italy in which he rails against the Greek, Roman and Renaissance style, believing it to be “utterly devoid of all life, virtue, honourableness, or power of doing good.” Ruskin was a member of the group who began the Arts & Crafts movement and he founded a utopian community in 1871. His most radical idea was his total rejection of any machine-produced products. Rather, he believed that handwork and craftsmanship brought dignity to labor. To put it mildly, this was a man of strongly held beliefs.
Unfortunately, his personal life was, in a word, disastrous. His only marriage ended in annulment, on grounds of non-consummation. Later, he fell deeply in love with Rose La Touche, a young girl 30 years his junior, who died of insanity at the age of 36. Soon after, Ruskin’s life became punctuated by bouts of despair and insanity, culminating in a total breakdown for the last ten years of his life.
O.K., so it’s not the most uplifting story, but, as Aristotle so aptly put it, “There was never a genius without a tincture of madness”. And this bit of background is important in explaining our mission statement only to illustrate that Ruskin was not a fly-by-night fellow, but a man of deep conviction who studied, analyzed and cared profoundly about the world.
Quality is a term that has been trivialized, used by purveyors from McDonald’s to Verizon to K-Mart. Genuine quality is harder to come by and does not mean simply well-made or acceptable. Real quality is that which is superior. It is the result of thought, analysis, communication, sweat and honest-to-God hard labor, succinctly stated by Mr. Ruskin as “intelligent effort”. True quality is giving each customer no less than exactly what they want and need.
It is never an accident.
Vineyards: Mesa del Rio, Viento & Riverview
Harvested: September 3, 6, 13 & 29, 2005
Harvest Brix: 24.0°, 24.3°, 24.9° & 23.6°
Acidity at Harvest: .62, .68, .72, .74, .75 & .77
pH at Harvest: 3.4, 3.42, 3.45, 3.51, 3.54 & 3.70
Bottled: August 23, 2006
Cases Produced: 858