2003 "Terroir Select" Malbec
California: Mendocino County
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT!: Today’s Gold medal winner is a superb Malbec
SAVINGS ALERT!: Enjoy Free Ground Shipping today, when you purchase 6 or more bottles. Use Coupon Code: MALBECSPY
Mission Codename: What the heck? Malbec!
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Respond to Operative requests for a killer Malbec, that often gigantic Bordeaux varietal. Find a great one, and procure a supply for our demanding Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Stonehedge Cellars
Wine Subject: 2003 Terroir Select Malbec
Winemaker: Dennis Patton
Backgrounder: One of the six component varietals that go into a true French Bordeaux wine, Malbec (named for the Hungarian peasant who first brought the grape to France) is a thin-skinned grape that requires more time to mature than its Bordeaux brethren, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In America, where very little Malbec is grown, the wine is often used as a minority component of Meritage blends. While Argentina is, perhaps, best-known for producing exceptional examples of the varietal, increasingly, California wineries are becoming more skilled in extracting a unique, and delicious, expression of the grape. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report below.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Intensely dark garnet with purple edges, fast-moving and thick legs and a viscous quality that hints at the depth of its flavors
Smell – This wine was a little difficult to approach right on opening, but be sure to decant for a few hours and you will be rewarded handsomly . After being allowed to air, the wine presents pronounced ripe jammy red cherries and sweet blackberries, youthful and bright plum and violet flavors complemented with a hint of mint and rosemary, licorice, oak with a slight herbaceousness. After some additional breathing time, a hint of nutty mocha emerges
Feel – Bright and light on the entry, then dry and grippy at the mid-palate with solid tannic structure with a full and chewy mouthfeel, plus a slight peppery minerality that lingers on the tongue
Taste – Concentrated big fruit flavors of dark mixed berries, plum and dark cherry, with solid but not overdone oak, followed by hints of leather and black pepper, mildest tobacco and subtle hint of bacon
Finish – Solid and long finish with tart fruit, lingering oak and spicy pepper
Conclusion – This is a very impressive Malbec that makes us stand up and take keen notice of this varietal in particular. This big and bold Malbec is made from fruit grown in Mendocino, where the coolness of the evenings requires that the grapes spend additional time on the vines to ripen. This, coupled with the amount of in-vineyard attention that is required of the grower to test and measure, makes Malbec, particularly Mendocino Malbec, a difficult wine to make.
On its serious side, this wine is rich, hearty, mouth coating and chewy. On the flip side, you find a wine that has a brightness of flavor and tenderness of feel that makes it fun to drink on its own or with food. Hold for up to 10 years for a softer wine.
Extended Decant Follow-on Report – I left this wine in the bottle overnight and revisited it the following day. With this extended decanting, the wine brightens significantly, and aromas and flavors of smoky plum and salty licorice emerge. The oak also softens and the wine takes on a more lively character. Decanting conclusion: Enjoy the wine after short and extended decanting for two unique experiences.
Previous Mission Recap:
When we really love a winery, we make it a point to sleuth out additional wines for our Operatives to enjoy. What follows is our original mission report, which describes our first encounter with Stonehedge Winery. Please note: The wine described below is not the one we are selling today. Enjoy this mission recap:
Today’s wine recently won a Double Gold at the San Francisco International Wine Competition.
The San Francisco International Wine Competition says this, about itself:
“The San Francisco International Wine Competition, the largest, most influential international wine competition in America, is judged by a prestigious panel of nationally recognized wine experts. Judging is based on a blind, consensual procedure, ensuring that its rigor and integrity remain the nation’s most respected competition.”
We have been asked, “What is the general The Wine Spies official position on wine competitions?” With so many competitions around the world, we don’t have a general position. We do, however, have a position on the S.F. International Wine Competition. It’s own self-description is one that we agreed with and endorse!
I have found that wines that are awarded medals in this competition deserve them. Today’s richly robust Petite Syrah certainly does.
Our mole at the competition, [CENSORED], was able to give us some early buzz on some of the wines that were raising eyebrows among the judges and while the mole would never breech competition rules or confidentiality, we did learn about a few wines to watch.
When the results were made final, immediately called upon Stonehedge. They happily poured for me and I found the wine to be Double Gold Worthy! The folks at the winery are very proud of their win and they should be; This is a wine of great quality and distinction.
Congratulations to Stonehedge on their win. Congratulations to you, dear Operative, if you manage to get your hands on a few bottles of today’s great wine.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
88 Points – Ken’s Wine Guide – “Very Good”, Stonehedge Terroir Select Mendocino Malbec 2003
About This Wine:
The Stonehedge 2003 “Terroir Select” Malbec is produced from grapes grown in some of Mendocino County’s best maintained vineyards. To be precise, it comes from “Sanel Valley” in Sountern Mendocino County. Malbec’s plantings is one of the smallest of any grapes in the state of California, since its yield are very low. The maximum it produces per acre is 3 tons.
Our Malbec is fermented in small tanks to bring our the best color and flavors possible.
Rich purple black color, aroma of violet, layers of black cherry, hazelnut and white chocolate. This wine can comfortably age for 14 years.
About The Winery:
In 1992, the Shahabi Brothers began producing wines in the small town of St. Helena, situated in the heart of Napa Valley. The Shahabis selected Napa Valley with the strong belief that the rich and diverse terrain of Napa Valley combined with the ever beaming and warm California sunshine would produce exceptional wines, hardly matched anywhere else in the world. From the very beginning, the Shahabis made the gentle care of the grapes from vine to bottle priority one. This care and dedication has pushed the small family operated Stonehedge to the forefront of California winemaking and a recognized name for exceptional quality.
Since its first release in the early 90’s, Stonehedge has quickly become synonymous with quality. Results speak for themselves. Since its debut, Stonehedge sales now span the globe, from the entire United States to Europe, Asia, Middle East, and Africa.
Stonehedge’s mission is to produce wines that are worlds apart from wines produced by the large producers or corporate conglomerates. Stonehedge’s philosophy is to produce elegantly handcrafted wines that are affordable by the majority of the population. In today’s world, after all the consolidations and mergers, corporate giants who treat wine like liquor own some of the even so called small producers. At Stonehedge, we ritually believe that wine is a delicate and sensitive product that must be handled with utmost respect and attention to all details. Stonehedge is dedicated to producing exciting, delicious, multi-dimensional wines that are not only available to a few, but to everyone.
About The Winemaker:
Dennis Patton, a legendary winemaker, began his career in the wine industry in the early 70’s as an organic farmer and winemaker in Mendocino County, California. Since then, Dennis has worked closely with some of the best growers across California, and has been the artist behind many wines with high press accolades and ratings.
Through nearly 30 years of winemaking experience and working with the best growers across California, Dennis has gained intimate knowledge of all aspects of grape growing and winemaking. Time and time again, Dennis has demonstrated an exceptional knack for extracting the most and best possible from the vineyards and grapes he has worked with.
Dennis, like any master artist, successfully makes great wines of all spectrums – from the delicate and subtle to overpowering monsters.
Dennis’s natural talents and abilities have been enhanced by his education at UC Davis’ winemaking school.
Dennis comes from an agricultural family and innately retains a deep passion for winemaking and viticulture. This passion shines in his hands-on approach and dedication to making the best and most expressive wines from each vineyard site.
To this day, Dennis does his own field-testing for every vineyard site to insure quality fruit is at the heart of each wine he makes.
Stonehedge specializes in the production of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Stonehedge produces wines in three distinct profiles: 1. California Appellation wines; 2. Napa Valley Appellation wines; 3. “Signature Vines”™. The California Appellation wines offer a fruit forward, supple and soft flavor profile with a light touch of oak. The Napa Valley appellation wines offer an intense, rich and concentrated fruit core with elegantly rounded tannins framed by toasty oak notes. The “Signature Vines”™ wines are produced from specifically selected blocs of famous vineyards embodying the best a varietal has to offer. All “Signature Vines”™ productions are very limited.
At Stonehedge, we strongly believe in gentle care and handling of the grapes from the vine to the bottle. All vineyards are meticulously managed with a ritual green harvest in early summer, ensuring low yields. All Napa Valley grapes are hand harvested, carefully inspected, and subsequently fermented in small fermenters. Stonehedge draws its fruit from some of the best vineyards across California, benefiting from California’s diversely rich and complex soil and microclimates, all the way from Napa Valley, Sonoma, and Mendocino, down to Santa Barbara.