O'Brien Estate Winery
2006 Napa Valley Merlot
Merlot •Estate Bottled
California: Napa Valley
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Mission Codename: Ergo… Merlot!
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Find a Merlot to dispel the critics of Merlot
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: O’Brien Estate Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 Napa Valley Merlot
Winemaker: David Yorgensen
The fruit for this wine come from Napa Valley’s Oak Knoll District. Oak Knoll is located on the southern end of the valley and formally became a sub-appellation in 2004. With approximately 4000 acres under vine it is most influenced from a climate perspective by the cool breezes of the San Pablo Bay. Only Carneros (further south) is considered cooler. Being at the lower end of the valley it is lower in elevation and the soil is made up of fertile clay and silt loam.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep and dark purple and a dark almost inky core with garnet highlights that extend through to the edges. When swirled, the slow fat legs show hints of this wine’s deep color as they sink down the edge of the glass.
Smell – Bold but not overpowering, the mix of black-fruit, jam, licorice and fresh-cut oak are layered over complex aromas of earth and exotic spices. Hints of floral violets and dried herbs are also present on the still youthful nose.
Feel – This wine is dry with a firm attack. The fine grained tannins linger through to the back of the palate and a touch of spice hits on both the tip of the tongue and the back of the palate. Balanced acidity is framed by a touch of minerality. Given some time, this wine opens considerably.
Taste -An array of tart black-fruit including black-cherry, black-berry and plum over complex notes of exotic spice and white pepper. New oak, licorice and hints of mocha coffee emerge as the wine opens.
Finish – Medium-long in length with lingering flavors of black-cherry and plum backed up by its earthiness, herbal notes, and hints of this wine’s spice and oak components.
Conclusion – The 2006 O’Brien Estate Winery Napa Valley Merlot is the kind of Merlot that will reminds you why this varietal is the grape of the right bank of Bordeaux. Big and bold, dense and expressive with aromas, flavors and a structure stands up. This is not your forgettable sub-par style of Merlot that unfortunately has tainted its reputation. On the contrary, if you’re a fan a Napa fruit, this wine will renew your love affair with this most noble of grapes.
Below is a recap of Agent Red and Agent Sparkle’s original encounter with O’Brien Estate Winery:
The life of a wine spy can be a lonely and isolated affair. Field reconnaissance or undercover missions can keep me away from loved ones for days or even weeks at a time. Don’t get me wrong, I love my work. It is incredibly rewarding to sleuth great wines for our Operatives.
Waaaaaaa!, right? Poor Wine Spy, poor International man of wine-intrigue. Okay, I admit it. I sometimes wallow in self pity. Don’t we all get a little blue sometimes?
On a particularly grueling mission recently, I found myself staked out – in the rain – waiting for a local asset to stash a wine in our previously-arranged dead drop. He was late, I was wet and I had not been on a date with Agent Sparkle for what seemed like an eternity.
More rain. More waiting… and then a solitary figure appeared at the edge of the city park. The figure headed for the bench, my dead drop, but the passed right by it. Something was definitely wrong. This person was decidedly more lithe than my bulky field asset.
I crouched lower into the ditch, in the process filling my rubber boots with water. The figure was coming directly toward me now. I crouched lower and, in doing so, slipped in the mud – getting a mouth full of muddy water in the process.
Fearing that I had been spotted, I held perfectly still, listening intently. A loud click-click sound rang out from above me. I braced for the worst… and then realized that the rain has stopped beating down on me.
The sound of soft laughter followed, as did a hand on my shoulder.
“It’s me, silly!”
I asked her, “What are you doing here?” Her smile, warmed me, making me forget my miserable situation.
“I hope that you don’t mind, but I hacked into your mission logs and found out that you would be here. I headed off your asset and got the bottle from him. let’s go find somewhere warm and cozy to open this baby up!”
With that, my spirits were elevated. Within a few minutes we were at our nearest safehouse, fireplace blazing, wine decanted, soft music playing in the background.
For the balance of the evening we thoroughly enjoyed Bart O’Brien’s exquisite 2005 Seduction while chatting, laughing and [REDACTED].
If you are looking to lift the spirits of someone you love, or want the perfect wine for your romantic encounters, this wine is highly recommended!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the O’Brien Estate Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
O’Brien Estate Winery, Member, Napa Valley Vintners
Awards & Accolades:
Gold Medal Winner – American Fine Wine Competition 2008
About This Wine:
Dark and intense, the 2006 Merlot is dense with flamboyant black cherry and plum. Aromatics of crème de cassis and espresso roast lead to flavors of pure black cherry, licorice and hints of cedar that are lingering, exotic, and elegant.
Our Merlot is handcrafted from grapes grown in our estate vineyard in the Oak Knoll district of Napa Valley.
Dark and intense, the 2006 Merlot is dense with flamboyant black cherry and plum. Aromatics of crème de cassis and espresso roast lead to flavors of pure black cherry, licorice and hints of cedar that are lingering, exotic, and elegant. The abundant fine grained tannins and balanced acids provide ample structure to this classic wine.
This vintage of our estate Merlot can be enjoyed immediately but we recommend it be bottle aged for at least 2 years and up to 10 for maximum enjoyment.
About The Winery:
Barb and Bart got married the year after they met, had 2 children (Emily and Mason), and Bart pursued a career starting various companies..
He told Barb he was an entrepreneur when they met. Her response was “I am going to have to marry you because all my sisters are married to Irish entrepreneurs”.
Barb had signed up for quite an adventure. They bought a house together in Piedmont when she became pregnant with Emily, then the house was sold after Emily was born to finance a temporary Halloween theme park venture called Scaregrounds.
After Scaregrounds failed, Bart went back to high tech and joined Bill Paseman to found Calico Commerce, a software company to configure complex products such as computers for the new sales channel called the internet.
After seven long years of living in rental property that was constantly being sold from underneath them, Bart’s first software startup, RSA Data Security, was acquired by Security Dynamics for $500 million. Bart had sold most of the stock to finance their wedding, honeymoon, and the purchase of their first house, but fortunately just enough stock was left to purchase their second house in Los Altos Hills in 1997.
Then Calico Commerce went public in 1999 at a valuation of $1.8 billion.
Bart only sold a small portion of his stock before the high tech crash of 2000 and subsequent failure of Calico, but this was enougth for a down payment to purchase the Costello Vineyard to make Barb’s “dream of owning land in Napa Valley” come true.
On the property are 33 acres of vineyards, a bonded winery, and their home. When you visit, you will be treated to an intimate experience in their backyard sitting at picnic tables under oak trees.
Bart and Barb live on the estate with their two children, Emily (19) who is now off to Western Washington University, their son Mason (16) who is attending Justin Sienna High School, and their dog Sasha (9) who models for the Wine Dogs of Napa Valley book.
Titratable acidity: 0.63 g/100mL
Production: 673 cases bottled
Vineyards: Our estate vineyard is located in the Oak Knoll District of southern Napa Valley. Soils are of the Hare clay loam type underlaid with gravel, and are shallow (24”) and low in vigor.
The Vintage: Merlot harvest started on September 27th at 25.8 Brix.
Winemaker: David Yorgensen has been our winemaker since 2004.
Winemaking: All fruit was hand harvested, fermented in small lots and gently pressed directly to barrel for completion of fermentation and aging.
Cooperage and Aging: Approximately 70% new French Oak and 30% 1 year old French oak was used. The wine was aged for 21 months in specially selected barrels.