2007 Carmel Valley Estate Merlot
Merlot •Estate Bottled
California: Carmel Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: The Rustler
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Galante Vineyards in California’s beautiful Carmel Valley and procure an ample allotment their newest Estate Merlot for our Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Galante Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2007 Galante 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? 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 – Deep and dark garnet in color with a dark but clear core. Along the edges the color fades to ruby then light pink. When swirled, the wine shows off a tightly springy surface that snaps to settled – leaving behind slow legs that take a long time to emerge before they make their way slowly down the glass
Smell – Brightly bold in intensity with a spicy kick that leads to lush red fruits. Ripe raspberry, dark cherry and cassis lead the way. These are followed by notes of fresh oak with hints of dried salad herbs, dark chocolate and a subtle hint of fresh forestfloor
Feel – Initially supple, then semi-dry and smooth, this full-bodied Merlot balances a young character against a more plush and serious structure. Fine grained tannins and an easy acidity, combine with soft spice and a soft minerality that lingers long into the finish
Taste – Lush and dense fruit with ripe dark cherry, ripe smoky raspberry, dark plum and a hint of cranberry combine with new oak, dried herbs, medium spice, hints of toasty vanilla, chocolate dust and subtle fall leaves
Finish – Long in length, with dark fruit and berries, integrated and smooth grained with a fine structure and lingering oak that all tail off gently
Conclusion – This beautifully structured Merlot is certainly done in an old world style – melded beautifully with Galante’s cowboy sensibilities. That is to say that this wine delivers classic European Merlot characteristics, while it also conveys Galante’s extraordinary Carmel Valley Estate ranch fruit. Jack Galante’s estate fruit, regardless of varietal, always delivers a balanced and exceptionally delicious experience. This delicious wine is a beautiful balance of old world meets new, meeting its goal of providing a drinking experience that will delight lovers of any style of Merlot. With beautiful fruit and a perfect acid profile, this wine is a delight to drink on it’s own, or to enjoy with a fine meal. Personally, I’ll drink mine with a big campfire steak!
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 Cabernets 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 Cabernet Sauvignon (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 Cabernet 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 Galante Estate vineyards 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 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: 24.2
Total Acid: 0.69
Harvest Date: 12/04/2007
Varietals: 100% Merlot