Grgich Hills Estate
2005 Napa Valley Merlot
Merlot •Estate Grown
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: The Power of the Black Beret
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Revisit our friends at Grgich Hills Estate to acquire their delicious Napa Valley Merlot.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Grgich Hills Estate
Wine Subject: 2005 Napa Valley Merlot
Winemaker: Miljenko “Mike” Grgich
Backgrounder: In 1976, Mike Grgich rocked the wine world by creating a California that beat out French Chardonnays in the now famous Judgment of Paris. The French were outraged, and Mike Grgich earned the respect of wine drinkers and critics, worldwide. Today, Mike continues to oversee production of what have been heralded as “the finest wines in the world”. We are very proud to be able to bring you today’s fantastic Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Merlot.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark and almost inky purple with a deep core that shows glistening garnet highlights. Along the edges the color lightens to a brighter ruby color. When swirled, slow thick randomly space legs slide down the glass showing hints of this wine’s color.
Smell – Medium in intensity with plush aromas of earthy spiced red and black fruit including red cherry, plum and wild blackberry are well integrated with black licorice, savory dried herbs, hints of soft oak and cedar box. A touch of mild cayenne pepper spice and floral notes round out the lovely complex nose of this wine.
Feel – Smooth and dry, this full-bodied wine immediately coats the entire palate with round ripe tannins. Balanced acidity with a slight spice kick balances the great weight and structure of this wine.
Taste – Ripe and dense red cherry, plum, blackberry, and other red and black fruits balanced with pungent spice, earthy notes, hints of unsweetened dark chocolate and toasted oak blend together and reveal themselves gracefully.
Finish – Lingering and silky, its ripe plums and dark cherry with earth, spice and cocoa notes are supported long into the finish by a great texture that clings to the palate.
Conclusion – The 2005 Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Merlot is a very approachable, lush and rich Merlot with the nose, texture and flavors that not only represents the fine 2005 Napa Valley vintage but is a wine that shows tremendous character and depth without being overly powerful that will please even the biggest Merlot skeptics. Enjoy this wine now or cellar for the next 5-10 years.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Miljenko “Mike” Grgich
DATE OF BIRTH: April 1st, 1923
PLACE OF BIRTH: Desne, in Croatia’s coastal Dalmatian region
WINE EDUCATION: Attended University of Zagreb. Field of study, viticulture and enology
CALIFORNIA WINERIES EXPERIENCE: Christian Brothers Cellars, Souverain Winery, Robert Mondavi and Beaulieu Vineyard (with André Tchelistcheff)
FOUNDED NAMESAKE WINERY: Grgich Hills Cellar, founded 1977, renamed to Grgich Hills Estate in 2006
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: To, “… year after year, is to improve the quality of [the] vineyards and [the] wines” and to, “… remain committed to making distinctive wines with quality, consistency and longevity”.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Chardonnay
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: In 1976, Mike Grgich’s Chateau Montelena Chardonnay won the infamous Judgement of Paris tasting, to become the best Chardonnay in the world. The fact that a California wine won the tasting shocked the wine world – and spurned Mr. Grgich on to great success with his own winery
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: On March 7, 2008, in recognition of his impact and contribution to the wine industry, Mr. Grgich was inducted into the Vintner Hall of Fame. The honor coincided with his 50th vintage of winemaking in the Napa Valley
GRGICH QUOTE: “For years, everybody in the world believed that only French soils could produce great wines. We shattered that myth. That was probably the most significant result of the Paris tasting. Our victory pumped new energy into the California wine industry, particularly in the Napa Valley.”
BLACK BERET: Mr. Grgich wears an ever present black beret. It is rumored that the beret is imbued with magical energies that power his winemaking talents. Further investigation is required…
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Grgich Hills Estate can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
This is a Cabernet lover’s Merlot blended from four of our organically-grown vineyards. Mouth coating flavors of plums, black tea and cocoa powder are backed with a nice tannin structure to make this a perfect wine with beef tenderloin, rack of lamb or barbecued pork.
VINTAGE: Our Napa Valley grapes beneﬁted from a long, cool growing season in 2005. The year began with heavy rains and then a spell of 80-degree weather in early March triggered budbreak. The generally cool summer allowed the grapes to ripen smoothly and completely, without any major heat spikes to confuse them.
VINEYARD: We blended Merlot grapes from four of our organically-grown estate Napa Valley vineyards with a small amount of Petite Verdot, which added a ﬂoral note and gives the blend a backbone of tannins for long-term aging. The majority of our Merlot grapes come from our cool American Canyon and Carneros vineyards, which contribute bright fruit and structure while the Merlot from our warmer vineyards in Yountville and Calistoga add texture and elegance. By blending wine from four distinctive growing regions within Napa Valley, we crafted a complex, balanced Merlot.
About The Winery:
Miljenko “Mike” Grgich first gained international recognition at the celebrated “Paris Tasting” of 1976. Then, in a now-historic blind tasting, a panel of eminent French judges swirled, sniffed, and sipped an array of the fabled white Burgundies of France and a small sampling of upstart Chardonnays from the Napa Valley. When their scores were tallied, the French judges were shocked: they had chosen Mike’s 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay as the finest white wine in the world. Mon Dieu! The results stunned the international wine establishment and immediately earned Mike a reputation as one of the greatest winemakers in the world.
The Paris Tasting served notice to the world that the California wine industry was on the move, and it laid the groundwork for the creation of Grgich Hills Cellar. After his victory in Paris, Mike sat down with Austin Hills and his sister, Mary Lee Strebl, from the Hills Bros. Coffee family, and on Independence Day 1977, they gave birth to Grgich Hills. It was an ideal partnership. Austin owned premium vineyards in Rutherford, in the heart of the Napa Valley, and with his extensive background in business, he put the winery on its financial feet. Mike, with his fierce commitment to making wines of the highest quality, began producing what immediately became our signature wine: the exquisite, richly complex Chardonnays that win awards and delight wine lovers across America and throughout the world.
Today, we remain committed to making distinctive wines with quality, consistency and longevity. We are proud that world leaders such as Presidents Reagan and Clinton, Queen Elizabeth II and French President François Mitterrand chose our wines to serve at state dinners, but we are just as proud that every single day discriminating wine drinkers count on Grgich Hills to turn their own dinners into special occasions.
As always, we treat each of our six different wines as a special child, carefully nurturing their development and character. Our main pride and joy is our Chardonnay, an elegant example of the varietal displaying rich flavors and exquisite balance. As a complement to the Chardonnay, we also produce a refreshingly crisp Fumé Blanc, a rich and spicy Zinfandel, a Cabernet Sauvignon with tremendous depth and complexity, a lush and richly fragrant Merlot, and a luscious dessert wine named “Violetta,” in honor of Mike’s daughter, Violet.
Now 85 years old, and still sporting his signature blue beret, Mike was inducted into the Vinter Hall of Fame in March 2008 in honor of his many contributions to the wine industry. While many other Napa wineries pursue strategies of expansion, Mike, along with his daughter, Violet, and his nephew, Ivo Jeramaz, prefer to stay small. Their aim, year after year, is to improve the quality of their vineyards and their wines, relying on Mike’s unique artistic and intuitive touch. This strategy continues to pay significant dividends. Many wineries buy their grapes from outside vineyards. Grgich Hills now owns all of its own vineyards, all of which are certified organic and Biodynamic. Beginning with the 2003 vintage, all Grgich Hills wines are labeled “Estate Grown.” This guarantees a consistently superior level of quality, and it guarantees that Grgich Hills will remain a shining symbol of prestige and good taste. In recognition of that important milestone, the winery changed its name in 2007 to Grgich Hills Estate.
Alcohol: 14.7% by volume
Fermentation: indigenous yeast
Harvest date: October 4-12, 2005
Sugar: 25.1˚ Brix (average)
Bottling date: July 16, 2007
Release date: Fall 2008
Total acid: 5.8 g/L
Time in oak: 18 months
Type of oak: mixture of large and small French oak barrels; 30% new
Production: 5,372 cases (12/750 ml.) 835 cases (12/375 ml.)
Blend: 98% Merlot; 2% Petite Verdot