What We Say
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Mission Codename: Generational
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Locate a World Exclusive Meritage wine, secure an ample quantity before it is released to the general public
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: Murphy Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2005 Meritage
Winemaker: Peter Murphy
Backgrounder: According to the US Meritage (rhymes with Heritage) Association, a red Meritage wine is made from a blend of two or more of the following varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, St. Macaire, Gros Verdot, or Carmenere. The Wine Spies have sampled many great Meritage wines and we are proud to bring you one of the finest examples we have ever tasted. A beautiful blend of fruit from the Sierra Foothills (60%) and from Napa Valley (40%), this wine is brilliantly balanced and bright, with a great deal of character and food-friendly greatness. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report below:
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Beautiful and deep ruby red, with deeply concentrated color out to the garnet edges. The wine shows perfect clarity through its deep heart. On swirling, the wine appears solid and dense, settling quickly and leaving behind chubby legs that move slowly down the glass
Smell – Dark and dusky mixed berries lead the charge, giving way to raspberry, cherry, soft spice, earthen oak and a hint smoky meat and the most delicate eucalyptus
Feel – Medium bodied and soft, the wine feels bright and light at first and then a moment later it settles in all around the mouth, gripping the back of the tongue at first, and then the edges and front
Taste – Brightly exciting and delicious with a big smoky juiciness – with flavors of smoky bright red cherry, blackberry, blueberry, soft spice and black pepper with earthen components that include cigar box and softest tomato stem
Finish – Long and bright and lush, the flavors morph and change as they gently tail off – ultimately finishing dry and tart and slightly smoky
Conclusion – This is a remarkable and deeply delicious wine! It just works on so many levels. This is a wine of nearly perfect balance, with bright flavors, aromas and acidity – but its also possesses depth. This is a big and juicy wine with character, great flavors and brilliant brightness. Its a fun wine with a serious side. Its bright acidity makes it a natural companion for a great meal. Of course, though, this wine has enough complexity and character to make it a really interesting and exciting wine to enjoy all on its own. Long story short, this wine gets a huge Wine spies recommendation.
The following is a mission recap, which retells the story of how Agent Red first became acquainted with Murphy Vineyards. Please note that the recap below refer to a wine that we previously showed. Today’s wine is Murphy’s brilliant 2005 Meritage:
Seemingly a million different influences affect the life of a wine. Wines start in the vineyards and, almost magically, they end up in our glasses. Along the mystical route so many things can go right or wrong – and these things all determine whether we’ll love a wine or not. Forces at work also determine whether we’ll even get to ever see, smell, or even taste a wine that we desire. If a wine is too good, chances are most folks will miss out, due to frenzied demand for the wine.
Today, The Wine Spies are able to bring you a wine that is headed for such greatness. Today’s wine, a perfectly balanced 2003 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Murphy Vineyards, is not as over-the-top as some Napa Cabs, but it is fantastic!
Where some Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon can have too much intensity of flavor, this wine finds harmonious balance of fruit, flavor and feel. Where big Napa Cab can be almost chewy, clumsy or overly heavy, this wine has poise and grace – without being too dainty.
When we first learned of this wine from a field asset who we’ll call Major Majors, we were interested. After Major Majors passed vetting, we conducted an investigation of Murphy Vineyards. The first thing of note was that Peter Murphy was a man of the vineyards. In our opinion, it is in the vineyards where great wine is really born. Without great care in tending and managing, vineyards can turn out grapes that make sub-par wines. Peter Murphy’s life has been focused on vineyard care first.
On closer inspection of Murphy Vineyards, we learned that Peter had enlisted the masterful winemaking skills of his long-time friend Art Finklestein. You know Art well from a previous mission to Judd’s Hill Winery in May when we sold out of Judd’s Hill wine that we featured.
The pairing of these two wine-crafting legends ensures that all Murphy Vineyards wines are great. Today’s wine is really great, and we hope that you have a chance to enjoy some.
Be sure to sign up for our Daily Dispatch. We are certain to feature great wines from Murphy Vineyards in the future.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Napa Valley vineyard, where the Cabernet Sauvignon in today’s wine was grown, can be seen in this satellite photo.
The location of the Sierra Foothills vineyard, where the Cabernet Franc in today’s wine was grown, can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
In the glass is a rich dark ruby color with aromas of vanilla greeting your nose instantly. After burying your nose in the glass you’ll find blackberries and current followed by slight hints of distant cigar smoke. The first sip surprises you with a smooth and elegant cherry flavor accompanied by subtle tannins. The balance of fruit and oak combine with a lingering acidity and makes a long, very enjoyable finish.
Production Notes: The 2005 growing season was an excellent year for vintners. Record breaking crop yields and high quality grapes made outstanding wines from all over California without sacrificing quality. Harvest came a little later than normal due to a long, cool growing season. Fall brought a supply of heat and sunshine which pushed the berries to maturity but allowed the fruit an extended hang time. This offers great flavor development in the berries.
Our winemaking process is not overly scientific. We have found this simple process makes an undisturbed, elegant style wine that is complex and easy to enjoy. All of our wines are blended. Blending allows us to really create balance and complexity with wines from different appellations. The Meritage is a Bordeaux blend of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernet Franc produces a lighter style wine, especially when it’s grown in a warmer area like the Sierra Foothills. The well drained, granitic soils make this area prime Cab Franc country. The Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in the Aetna Springs area of Napa Valley. This area is known for its warmer summers that really help to soften the grape skins and intensify the Cabernet flavors. The oak barrel program consisted of 40% new French oak barrels (Marchive, center of Franc, medium toast). It was bottled in May of 2008 after almost two and a half years in the barrel.
About The Winery:
Peter Murphy founded Murphy Vineyards and Murphy Wines in 1995 and began making wines in 1995 with a special select lot of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Rosenquist Vineyard in the Mt. Veeder Appellation of the Napa Valley.
The distinction of Murphy Wines comes from small production from specific vineyard selections, intense quality control of vineyard operations, meticulous winemaking, and barrel selection; each wine is a reflection of weather, grape growing, winemaking, and aging.
Grapes for these wines come from vineyards managed or selected by Peter Murphy. In 1987 Peter and Nancy Murphy established Ag Tech Services Inc. as a vineyard management and development business. Ag Tech Services (ATS) specializing in small vineyard estates, Murphy Wines are made from grapes from these vineyards.
Over the past thirty years in the wine and grape business, Peter Murphy grew grapes and made wine in various jobs. In 1995, involved in the intensity of vineyard management and development, Peter Murphy arranged with his friend Art Finklestein of Judd’s Hill Winery to make the wine for Murphy Vineyards. Art’s love of winemaking is reflected in each vintage.
At Murphy Vineyards we are dedicated to making premium wines. With our years of experience in the grape and wine business, we have acquired connections with grape growers and wine makers in the Napa Valley and California.
With our vineyard management and development company, ATS – Ag Tech Services, Inc., we are able to choose the best grapes for our wine and get them at reasonable prices.
Murphy Wines are made at several facilities at our direction and under our control. With control of grapes, barrels, blending we are able to produce incredible blended wines at value prices.
The style of Murphy wines is elegant and easy: fruit aroma, mild tannins, smooth finish.
About Peter Murphy:
Peter came to Napa Valley in 1974 to put his degree in Fermentation Science from UC Davis to work. He started with the vineyard development of a 4000 acre ranch converting cattle land to producing vineyards. He then moved into the winemaking side of the business with crush and cellar work at Cuvaison in Calistoga. Peter worked for a large vineyard management and development company before establishing his own company, Ag Tech Services, Inc. (ATS) in 1987. ATS specializes in small vineyard estates. Peter works with the owners to develop the distinct characteristics of each vineyard site.
Peter developed a deep connection to the soil and desired to create his own wine. He felt each soil and vintage had a character and story that needed to be told. Peter founded Peter Murphy Vineyards and Murphy Vineyards in 1995. For the first vintage, Peter sourced out a special select lot of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Rosenquist Vineyard in the Mt. Veeder appellation of Napa Valley and asked his friend Art Finkelstien of Judd’s Hill Winery to make the wine for Murphy Vineyards, from this small start came Murphy Vineyards.
Peter continued to develop relationships with small vineyard owners through his vineyard management business and sourced small production vineyards. Each year, he continued to build the wine business with selective lots of unique and interesting grapes. Once the second generation of Murphys became involved, the official name of the business became Murphy Vineyards to reflect the involvement of the entire family.
Today, Peter continues to oversee the vineyard management and wine business, Kevin is directing sales and helps in vineyard operations. Melissa helps with administration, and Michael helps with equipment. Nancy runs the office. You can also find Peter at wine pouring and wine tasting events or winemaker dinners making sure that the story of each wine is being shared with new and old customers alike.
Variatals: 60% Cabernet Franc, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon