Maloy O'Neill Vineyards
2004 Enzo Super-Tuscan
California: Paso Robles
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Top Central Coast Selection
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT!
Today’s wine is a near-perfect and deeply-delicious red blend – from one of our favorite Paso Robles wine producers
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Mission Codename: The Hand of Shannon
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Maloy O’Neill Vineyards in Paso Robles, uncover their best red blend, secure an amply supply for our blend-thirsty Operatives around the U.S.A.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Maloy O’Neill Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2004 Enzo
Winemakers: Shannon O’Neill
Backgrounder: Paso Robles has long been established as a wine producing region that give other California regions a run for their money. With a climate and soils that make for perfect growing conditions for grapes, it is no wonder. Winemakers in Paso are a somewhat unique breed, often declaring themselves to be the renegades of Cali wine. A meeting with Shannon O’Neill, winemaker and owner of Maloy O’Neill affirms this sentiment. A warm, excited and deeply passionate man, Shannon makes wines that reflect his personality. Join Agent Red as he revisits Shannon, tastes his incredible 2004 Enzo, and returns with a cache of the wine for our eager Operatives.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – A beautiful deep dark garnet, with thickly concentrated color through its dark heart of pure garnet – and all the way to the edges of the wine. When swirled, this wine shows a springy surface that settles quickly – leaving behind tight tightly-packed ropey legs that take a long time to emerge before they move slowly down the glass
Smell – A rush of deep, dark and dusky aromas, lead by a strikingly fresh bing cherry. This gorgeous aromatic is followed by dark blackberry, bright fresh raspberry, red plum, soft oak, cedar, a hint pine sap and a hint of dried mint
Feel – Soft and tender on the initial attack, then the wine grows big and becomes mouth-filling with smooth and supple tannins that, after a a few moments, grip in at the top of the palate, the tongue and lips, eventually drying the cheeks – causing you to smack your lips!
Taste – Delicious, juicy, dark, dusky and really exotic, with layers of concentrated dark and bright flavors. These are led, solidly, by dark plum, ripest blackberry, bright red cherry, raspberry – and followed by smoky hints of subtle flint, cedar and soft spices
Finish – Dark and concentrated at first, then bright fruits emerge in tandem with the dark fruits. They exist, side-by-side, for a long interval before they tail off very gradually, leaving behind dusky flavors of minerals, dark fruit and herbs
Conclusion – What a great pleasure to return to our friends at Maloy O’Neill – and to return with this particular wine! A favorite of winery personnel, I was really impressed with the delicious uniqueness of this wine. Shannon O’Neill is a modern mad scientist and old-school naturalist, crafting wines the old-fashioned way, while imbuing them with his spectacular knowledge of the region and the varietals that he specializes in. This is a deeply concentrated wine, but it is balanced and easy to drink. It also has the fine acidity to pair with almost any foods. Shannon’s winemaking techniques, from end to end, are literally hands-on. There is no automated production or miles of piping that the wine has to move through in the process. He even corks each bottle by hand. His love for his wines shine through – especially in this superb red blend, his 2004 Enzo.
Below follows an excerpt from Agent Red’s initial recon of Maloy O’Neill Vineyards.
Just a few days ago, I was fortunate to spend time with Shannon O’Neill, one of the founding father’s of the Paso wine scene.
Shannon purchased his first vineyard land back in 1980 and was one of the first dozen vintners planting in the appellation. Today, there are more than 120 Paso wineries and Shannon’s Maloy O’Neill is considered an original – and one of the finest.
The day I met Shannon, the weather was mercifully moderate. The last time I visited the region in the summertime, the weather soared to 106 degrees. That was a year ago, and I was loath to experience another sweltering day. Thank Bacchus for a cooler day.
Shannon told me that the weather this summer had been somewhat unusual, with temperatures bouncing all around. “It’s been an unusual summer to be sure,” Shannon told me. “Day to day, temps have been fluctuating far more than usual.”
When I asked Shannon to tell me how the grapes were doing with these temperature swings, he told me:
“The swings make me a little nervous, particularly when temps soar to 116 as we saw recently. When temps get that high, vines can shut down, putting the grapes in danger. Fortunately, our grapes are all doing great.”
“This is the time of year when we visit the vineyards several times a day to see when they start to get their color. When the first hints of purple appear on the grapes, we know that harvest is right around the corner. Right now, I am ordering all of my harvest supplies and getting my team ready to pick, sort and rush the grapes to the winery.”
As we walked through the vineyards, Shannon pointed out the wide assortment of his grapes. Here, he grows and tends to Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Chardonnay, Muscat Canelli, and Malvasia Bianca, these latter two being more obscure but very interesting grape varietals. We discussed the grapes, picking and tasting as we walked and talked.
I asked Shannon to characterize the differences between wines made in Paso Robles and those from Napa and Sonoma.
“Well, that’s a big question, but I’ll boil it down in simple terms: Because of the hotter temperatures, Paso wines tend to be more deeply extracted and big. The higher temps lead to higher sugars which, in turn, lead to higher alcohol. When making my wines, I strive to deliver big and bold flavors, but also wines that hold up when paired with food. Some of my wines are meant to solo imbibing to be sure, but the Lexicon that you are enjoying is a great food wine. Bright acidity and deep fruit don’t overpower and are perfect with lighter foods or even hearty entrees.”
My afternoon with the winemaker over, I headed back to Central Command, the trunk of my hybrid Spy SUV stuffed with Maloy O’Neill’s great wines. And those were just the wines for my cellar! You’ll have to get your own today, dear Operative, before we run out!
A hearty thank you to Shannon for the great tour!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Maloy O’Neil vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
About This Wine:
The wine is a most interesting blend of 50% Sangiovese, 25% Lagrein and 25% Petite Sirah.
The wine was aged in a combination of French and Hungarian Oak for 26 months (only 20 percent of which was new oak). The aromas are full of blackberries and black cherry fruit, with a hint of cedar, tea and licorice. The deep red wine demonstrates a mouthful of black and red fruits that finishes with a hint of spice, blood oranges, all very well balanced with oak and bright acidity.
For those of you who are not familiar with Lagrein, it is a dark extracted grape used in northern Italy to darken up Sangiovese and Nebbiolo wines. It is also used to make Rose. This varietal is very rare in California only being produced by a few vineyards. The famous French Camp Vineyard in Shandon, California is the only producer in this area supplying just a handful of wineries with this unique grape. By itself it makes a dark, extracted, very tannic, mineral like wine. Blended with super fruity Sangiovese or other like varietals makes a beautiful wine with one-of-a- kind flavors that have become extremely popular within the Maloy O’Neill lineup.
Of the three Italian Super Tuscan blends Maloy O’Neill produces each year, the Enzo is always one of the most popular. Named after Shannon’s great uncle Vincenzo Infante from Gioi Italy. Enzo was a master painter who recently passed away at the ripe old age of 98. He painted frescos in the famous churches in Naples, Florence, Rome, and countries in East Africa when Italy occupied Africa in the 1930’s. I am lucky enough to own nine of his originals painted in the 50’s and 60’s. One of these can be seen on my new release of ‘Easy Ed Red” which was painted of my father in the early 1960’s. Despite my Irish last name, I am actually half Italian with my mother being 100% Italian and growing up in an Italian household. Enzo was the most famous person from the town of Gioi but was also well known throughout Europe and Africa. This wine could actually be considered a Super Alto Adige, because of the unique varietal blender used called Lagrein.
About The Winery:
Maloy O’Neill Vineyards is dedicated to making the highest quality wines in limited quantities while maintaining superior one-to-one client relationships. Through this dedication, the family belives in and aspires to providing a legacy for future generations of the Maloy O’Neill Clan. Maloy O’Neill is a family owned and operated vineyard and winery located in California’s beautiful Central Coast region.
We are dedicated to producing estate-bottled varietals and site-specific wines from our vineyards and other selected vineyards in the Paso Robles area. These vineyards have consistently produced high quality, intensely fruity vintages. Premium wine handcrafted in small lots is our main focus in delivering a unique product to our consumers. Cabernet Sauvignon is our flagship variety, but other premium varietals include Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Muscat Canelli, and Malvasia Bianca.
Making Premium wines has long been the passion of winemaker, Shannon O’Neill. Years of education and experimentation have culminated in the MOV wine collection now available. Shannon is able to focus on small lot artistry utilizing modern wine technology to maximize the potential of the vineyards.The winemaker’s hard work and craftsmanship has been noticed. MOV has been quickly recognized for red wines. We have won multiple Gold and Silver medals for each of vintages from prestigious North American wine competitions.
O’Neill Vineyards has been producing high quality grapes in the Paso Robles area since 1982. We have been a local supplier of grapes for many wineries in the area, as well as wineries in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake County. What started out as a 20 acre experiment in 1982, has now grown into 150 acres planted with nine varieties. O’Neill Vineyards has always been family owned and operated, dedicated to producing only the highest quality fruit for our wines and those who buy our fruit. Cabernet Sauvignon is why O’Neill Vineyards has become so well known, but we also currently grow Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Chardonnay, Muscat Canelli, and Malvasia Bianca.
The vineyard site consists of over 180 acres, with vines spread across several different soil types and microclimates. Although it has taken years of fine-tuning, many improvements have been made in the vineyard to maximize these different conditions. In 1997 we switched to a vertical shoot position trellis system, and employed canopy management techniques such as leaf, shoot, and cluster thinning to reduce yields and open up the canopy. Soil and water management has also become a top priority. Paso Robles area soils commonly need annual amendments and pH adjustments in order to maintain proper nutrient uptake and overall vine health. The result has been a dramatic increase in quality reflected in the wines from these grapes. There is also a five-acre experimental vineyard on the property, dedicated to varietal, rootstalk, and clonal experimentation. The grapes from these vines are used for small-scale winemaking experiments as well.
Varietals: 50% Sangiovese, 25% Lagrein, 25% Petite Sirah
Production: 180 Cases