2006 Chardonnay, Carneros
Chardonnay •Stanly Ranch & Hyde Vineyards
California: Napa Valley: Carneros
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT!:
We may not feature many white wines, but when we do, you can be assured that they are truly something special.
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Mission Codename: My Chard is better than yours
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Operative favorite, Merryvale, this time to recover a exclusive allocation cache of their fabled Carneros Chardonnay
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Merryvale Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2006 Carneros Chardonnay
Winemakers: Sean Foster and Larry Cherubino
Backgrounder: Carneros Chardonnay is now revered for its quality, elegance and smoothness. The Carneros viticultural area, a winegrowing region which straddles the Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley, has been a great source of wine that we have featured here. Always, those wine have been of supreme quality. The cool Carneros region provides ideal growing conditions for Chardonnay and Chardonnay literally thrives there. Merryvale is a Wine Spies favorite and we are proud to bring you today’s special Carneros Chardonnay, from our friends at Merryvale Vineyards. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report to learn more about this great Chardonnay
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Bright golden with perfect clarity and sparkling highlights, with skinny legs that take a long time to emerge before they crawl slowly down the glass
Smell – A glorious fruit rush of green apple, pear, pineapple, star fruit and gentle citrus, with yeasty minerals, flint and oaky vanilla
Feel – A great mouthfeel that leads of bright and firm before it settles onto your tongue where it grips in gently there and on the mid-palate. As the wine warms slightly, the feel becomes more lush and smooth
Taste – Bright, slightly tart and fruity green, with layers of green apple and tropical flavors, with a soft flinty citrus
Finish – Long and flavorful, with an initial tartness that thurns sweet and flinty as flavors taper slowly
Conclusion – This is another great Chardonnay from our good friends at Merrvale. Our operatives loved the 2005 vintage, and this one is sure to please them. We like this wine even better than the 2005. We are very picky about the wines that we show. When it comes to white wines – especially Chards, we are even pickier. Today’s wine serves as a shining example of the superb quality of Merryvale wines and Carneros fruit. This is an exciting and refined Chardonnay with a great feel, deep aromatics and beautiful flavors
What follows is our original mission report, in which Agent Red first infiltrated Merryvale
Merryvale hosts their own ‘Wine Component Tasting’ seminar every Saturday & Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. The fourth weekend of every month is Merryvale’s ‘Food & Wine Pairing’ seminar.
These events provided me with the perfect opportunity for some close surveillance of this respected winery. I wasted no time and signed up for both, which actually proved to be not only deeply informative from a Wine Spies intel-gathering perspective, but also from a wine drinker’s perspective. The two events were also great fun and the Merryvale winery is amazing!
The Wine Spies strive to have a low impact on the environment, but Merryvale takes this sort of responsibility to an extreme. Wherever possible, The Wine Spies use earth-friendly materials such as pulp wine shippers and recycled packing materials. We drive hybrid spy cars, keep office lights dimmed or turned off during the day and we recycle relentlessly. Merryvale does all of these things – and way more.
On arrival at the Merryvale Vineyards facility, the first thing that I noticed were the seemingly acres of solar panels covering the rooftop of their 60,000 foot building.
Once inside for the morning component tasting, I learned that Merryvale completed the installation of its 277kW solar electric system in 1996, before being green was chic.
The solar array generates enough clean electricity each day to power nearly 80 homes and will spare the air nearly 473 tons of harmful greenhouse gases annually. Over the next 30 years, the air pollution saved will be equivalent to driving over 32 million miles.
The winery’s solar system will provide 90-100% of the winery’s electricity needs on an annual basis for the company’s 60,000 square foot building.
Merryvale’s foremost reason for installing the array is to utilize green energy. This is an effort that we applaud and one that we are happy to be seeing at more and more wineries these days.
The component tasting and the pairing seminar were both exceptional and I recommend these for anyone looking to expand their knowledge of wine. While the winery and the classes were great, far more impressive are Merryvale’s incredible wines.
The Merryvale Vineyards winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Merryvale Vineyards, Member, Napa Valley Vintners
Awards & Accolades:
90 Points – Wine Enthusiast
About This Wine:
Formerly called ‘Reserve’, this new release from our Signature Merryvale Tier features a new winemaking team, upgraded facilities, our continued commitment to sustainable farming and an elegant new look.
Our 2006 Carneros Chardonnay shows bright aromas of Bartlett pear, pineapple, red apple and minerals all framed by sweet toasty oak. The wine is rich and balanced in the mid palate with a long elegant finish.
Vineyard Notes: Sourced from our estate vineyard at Stanly Ranch, with a small amount from Hyde Vineyard.
Production Notes: The fruit for our signature Chardonnay is carefully sorted, whole cluster pressed and barrel fermented. The wine spends 10 months in French Oak (42% new), with the first seven months on primary lees, and is stirred monthly until blending.
Winemaker Notes: The 2006 vintage has been described as a “growers” year by some vintners. After a late bud break due to an unseasonably cool spring, the Napa Valley experienced a record setting heat wave in July which allowed the grapes to catch up in ripening. An ideal mild weather pattern came in August and an “Indian Summer” followed into October allowing for slow and even ripening resulting in acids and sugars in perfect harmony.
Food Pairing: Enjoy this wine with lemon-herb roasted chicken, or broiled lobster tail.
About The Winery:
The first winery built in the Napa Valley following the repeal of Prohibition, Merryvale is located in the heart of America’s premier wine region. Graced with a European fountain and formal grounds, the historic winery is ideally located just 1/4 mile south of downtown St. Helena, Napa Valley — adjacent to renowned Tra Vigne restaurant and within easy walking distance of many other restaurants and shops.
In this celebrated home, the spirit of great winemaking thrives in the care of owner Jack W. Schlatter and his son, René Schlatter, Senior Winemakers Sean Foster and Larry Cherubino.
By maintaining the founding vision — To capture the essence of the region’s noble vineyards in rich, complex, supple wines rivaling the best in the world — Merryvale has earned international acclaim for wines of outstanding quality.
How we make wine:
Meticulous, Painstaking, Passionate Winemaking
The essence of the Napa Valley — a verdant parquet of diverse soils and microclimates that is home to some of the world’s greatest vineyards. Merryvale seeks to capture this essence with thoughtful attention to each of the thousand steps along the way to rich, complex, elegant wines.
The process begins with the careful selection of vineyards — by site, by block, even by row — to find the areas best suited to growing of the highest quality winegrapes for the specific varietal. Each aspect of the land — including microclimate, soil type, drainage, degree of slope and sun exposure – is evaluated for its contribution.
Merryvale’s grape purchase agreements include control over vineyard practices. The winemaking team carefully works hand in hand with each grower to manage all aspects of the vineyard — from pruning, irrigation, leaf thinning, hedging, shoot positioning, crop thinning, to the time of harvest.
Balanced crop levels ensure Merryvale’s grapes a greater concentration of flavors at lower sugar levels.
In red grapes, this will also facilitate the more rapid maturation of tannins, translating into rich, round wines with intense aromas and flavors, and more supple tannins.
Harvest time is determined by flavor and tannin maturity, not by sugar level alone. Careful attention is paid to all the grape and vine characteristics that indicate full fruit maturity has been reached. Skin color, absence of herbaceous flavors, color of the seeds, texture of the pulp and condition of the leaves are all important clues in determining stage of development.
Merryvale grapes are hand picked and sorted first in the field and sorted again here at the winery to remove leaves, substandard fruit and over- and under-ripe clusters. To protect the fruit from being damaged or bruised by excess weight during harvest, Merryvale grapes are placed in small half-ton boxes.