2006 Carmel Valley Estate Merlot
Merlot •Estate Bottled
California: Carmel Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Down in the (Carmel) Valley
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Galante Vineyards in California’s beautiful Carmel Valley and procure an ample allotment their incredible estate Merlot for our Galante-lovin’ Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Galante Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2006 Estate Merlot
Winemaker: Greg Vita
Backgrounder: Our Operatives know that we are huge fans of Galante wines. We have featured their wines previously, but today is the first time we have feature a Merlot from our friend, Cowboy Jack Galante. Jack creates great Cabernet Sauvignon, so why feature a Galante Merlot? Simple: Because Jack also makes fantastic Merlot. Any true fan of red wine knows that, worldwide, Merlot is a serious and well-respected wine varietal. It is the most widely grown grape in the Bordeaux region of France and, in America, Merlot soared to popularity in the 1990s. And for good reason; Merlot, when done correctly, can be incredible, as is the case with today’s serious offering from Galante Vineyards. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report immediately following to learn more about this wine – and why Merlot still rocks!
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deeply concentrated burgundy in color with a fast and bouncy surface that settle quickly when swirled. This wine has a tight surface, shimmering burgundy edges and medium legs that move down the glass slowly
Smell – Lushly layered with deep and rich aromas of plum, black cherry, sandalwood, fresh dark red rose, blackberry, cedar shavings and a unique smoky strawberry
Feel – Great mouth-feel, with an initial semi-round wetness that is fast replaced by medium grippy tannins and a coating, all-over-mouth effect that I really love
Taste – A rush of flavors, with dark ripe stonefruit, dark cherry, grape (yes, grape), strawberry and fresh/mild mixed salad herbs – this wine is beautifully tart and sweet with great flavors mild cigar box and fresh/mild mixed salad herbs
Finish – Cool and fresh, then slightly drying and airy with flavors that taper off slowly
Conclusion – Yeeee Haw! If you love Merlot, you will go crazy for this young and fun offering from our great friend, Jack Galante. This is a youthful and wonderful wine that reinforces my love of great Merlot-done-right. Merlot, as grown in Carmel Valley and made by Galante is a special treat for wine lovers of all types. If you have never tasted a Carmel Valley Merlot, of a Galante wine for that matter, I suggest that you sample this bright, delicious and aromatic wine.
Previous Mission Report Recap:
note: be sure to read the following in your best cowboy voice
Howdy Pardners! Agent Red here, reportin’ back from the range.
During a recent mission to infiltrate the notorious Galante Gang_, I was known simply as ’_*Red*’.
Why me? Well, match up my love for great red wines with the time I spent playing Cowboys and Indians as a child – and it was only natural that Central Command should chose me for this mission.
It had been rumored that Galante produced some of the best red wines in the state so I was sent to investigate. I arrived at the Galante Ranch where I was greeted by Cowboy Winemaker, Jack Galante. I told Jack right off that I was new in town and wanted to join his Gang. He looked somewhat skeptical when he noticed my shiny penny loafers, but after he sized me up, he invited me in for a tasting. (Note to self: Pay better attention to my disguises!)
Jack poured me a glass of his wine (shouldn’t he serve it in a tin cup?). What struck me first was this wine didn’t have the overpowering aromas of chili pepper usually found in the Cabs of the Monterey region. Rather, I found sandalwood, oak, cherry, currant and rose. This is an aromatic wine that’s not afraid to boast about its character.
After some very skillful cowboy style sniffing and yelling “YEE-HAW!”, I went in for a taste. I was impressed. This is a very bright and flavorful wine that has a big mouth feel, with medium tannins and big tastes of cherry and berry.
I think that Jack was impressed with my cowboy manner. At least I think that’s why he was looking at me in that way. And, no, that’s not a Brokeback reference. Jack is all man.
This wine certainly gets my personal recommendation and I’m pretty sure that we’ll feature other Galante wines here in the future. Pair it with free range gourmet like pan-seared baked beans, cactus fritters or even a fine tumbleweed stew.
For a real Cowboy red that can be served with real cuisine, you should pick up a bottle or two. This is a wine that is ready to drink now, but could peak in just a few years.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Carmel Valley region can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Cowboy Philosophy: “Whether the glass is half empty or half full depends on if your drinking or pouring…”
About This Wine:
Bin fermented and aged in new French oak, our limited production Merlot is truly unique. A highly structured Merlot, this wine offers lively, concentrated flavors of strawberry and plum.
About Our Winery:
At Galante Vineyards our philosophy is simple: grow the finest grapes possible and let the fruit express itself in the wine. Since all of our grapes are estate grown, each bottle of wine we produce embodies the characteristics of our unique region, exhibiting the natural flavors that are born from the land.
The Galante Family has a long history in the Monterey area. Owner Jack Galante’s great grandfather, J.F. Devendorf, was the founder of the town of Carmel. He later built the Pine Inn and the prestigious Highlands Inn. In 1969, Jack’s parents purchased a 700-acre cattle ranch in rustic Carmel Valley. While still maintaining a working cattle ranch, the Galantes, in 1983, began growing premium grapes on their property, specializing in Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1994, Jack Galante decided to build a winery and use some of his grapes to produce ultra-premium estate bottled wines. Today Galante is recognized as one of the premier Cabernet Sauvignon producers in Monterey County and all of California.
About Our Wine:
We produce very limited quantities of Estate Bottled 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from two single vineyards, Red Rose Hill and Blackjack Pasture. Our philosophy is to grow the finest grapes possible and let them speak for themselves through the wine. Several factors influence the quality of the grapes grown at our vineyards. Due to the extreme daily temperature variations in Cachagua (upper Carmel Valley), the growing season is very long with harvest normally occurring in mid October. This long “hang time” causes the grapes to ripen slowly, intensifying their rich berry flavors. We also thin the crop to an average of two tons per acre providing a low yield of very high quality grapes. We do not use pesticides or herbicides in the vineyards and only irrigate when needed. These methods, and others, combine to produce the highest quality grapes (see Vintner).Estate Wines, Galante Vineyards, California Wines
Our wine label is very special to us and reflects our roots and our efforts at Galante Vineyards. The image of the label is a photograph of real leather, hand-tooled by a California saddle maker with conchos in each corner designed by a local silversmith. The artwork for Red Rose Hill and Blackjack Pasture was created by world-renowned artist, G.H. Rothe. Our vineyard names are also meaningful; Blackjack Pasture is adjacent to the field where a favorite roping horse, Blackjack, spent the last of her 36 years. Red Rose Hill rises above a field of crimson rose bushes (just a small portion of our thousands of rose bushes), and Rancho Galante celebrates our beginnings as a cattle ranch, known as “Rancho Galante”. Even our back labels incorporate our cowboy image by including a special “Cowboy Philosophy” hand picked by owner Jack Galante.
Brix at Harvest: 24.0
Total Acid: 0.63
Harvest Date: 10/13/2006
Varietals: 100% Merlot
Time in Barrels: 12 Months
Bottle Date: 9/19/2007
Drinking Temp: 60F