Astrale e Terra (closed)

2003 Estate Merlot

Merlot •Estate Vineyard

California: Napa Valley: Atlas Peak

Offer Expired:Feb 26, 2010 at 11:59 pm
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Mission Codename: Billions and Billions

Operative: Agent Petite Verdot

Objective: Return to Astrale e Terra, raid their library and retrieve their legendary 2003 Merlot

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Astrale e Terra

Wine Subject: 2003 Atlas Peak Merlot – Napa Valley

Winemaker: Scott Harvey

Backgrounder: Today we introduce our newest Wine Spies Agent, Agent Petite Verdot. P.V., as we call her, brings a wealth of wine and industry knowledge and she is a welcome addition to our growing team of covert wine agents. We sent Agent Petite Verdot to Astrale e Terra to retrieve a cache of their 2003 Atlas Peak Merlot. She returned, victorious, with just enough to satisfy the demands of our thirsty Operatives.

_Varietal Backgrounder_: To true wine lovers, Merlot is one of the finest wine varietals in the world. Today, Merlot continues to sell in record numbers across the US, outpacing all other varietals. Merlot is sincere wine for serious wine drinkers. If you think that Merlot is not for you, forget everything that you think you know about Merlot and embrace this spectacular example. Read Agent Petite Verdot’s interview with iconic winemaker, Scott Harvey, immediately following his tasting notes.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Incredibly dark & inky, lightening to rich hues of plumb and maroon around the rim

Smell – A little heat, at first, but the wine settles down easily with decanting. Then, lots of casis and oak, black currant and a hint of blueberry enliven the nose. After a little more time, the wine opens to lots of cinnamon and clove, sugared plumb and white pepper

Feel – Medium bodied at first showing its true full bodied character after decanting. The wine is initially tight and focused, up front, but then yields to and overall velvety mouth feel

Taste – Dark berry up front and a hint of spice, after decanting flavors of dark fruit emerge. Boysenberry and blackberry lead the way, followed by the blueberry from the nose, cooked sweet cherries and a hint of white pepper. Plus and exotic spice that I can’t quite put my finger on!

Finish – At first the finish is very soft and almost fleeting. Once decanted, though, the finishbecomes more extended, and reveals hints of coffee beans and dark coco with a touch of lingering berry and bolder tannins. still velvety, definitely lingering.

Conclusion -WOW, this is a remarkable and incredible wine. Very delicious and very interesting, with what I found be be almost multiple personalities. In a good way, of course. Up front it is a reserved easy-drinker – but once it opens up it brings out a whole new animal! Delicious is the one word that comes to mind. Certainly, this wine will hold up for years to come (5-7 is a safe estimate) and it is a wine that will pair well with most anything. Personnally, I would recommend this wine with spare-ribs, salt and pepper steaks, or a nice pan roasted pork tenderloin with blue cheese and olive stuffing. Add these to a romantic evening, or a wonderful time with friends and family, and you will have yourself a fantastic evening!

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Scott Harvey

DATE OF BIRTH: 3-24-54

PLACE OF BIRTH: Bamberg, Germany

WINE EDUCATION: 1975, I apprenticed at K. Fitz-Ritter Winery while attending the Weinbau Schule in Neustadt, Germany. Returned to Amador County to apprentice from Cary Gott at Montevina winery.

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Montevina, In 1978, at the age of twenty-three, Scott took over as Head Winemaker for Story Winery

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Being European trained, I make wines to go with food—good acidity and low pH. The is considered old world style of winemaking.


CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Named 1 of the top 10 Winemakers in CA by Dan Berger

CAREER HIGHLIGHT: 2003 Scott Harvey Reserve Barbera being selected as 3rd best Barbera in the world outside of Italy.

WINEMAKER QUOTE: “This wine will get you laid” (This is Scott’s famous quote but I’m not sure you’ll want to use it”)


AGENT RED: Greetings, Scott. We are thrilled to be showing the wine you made for Astrale e Terra today. You know that we have already shown your wines before – and that we are already devoted fans! Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

SCOTT: Thank you, Red! Thanks for selecting another one of my wines for your Operatives

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

SCOTT: When I was sent to Germany as an AFS exchange student in high school, I was sent to a winemaking region of Germany. On my first day there, my “German family” handed me a glass of wine. I looked out the window at the vineyards below, got my German dictionary out and said, “does this wine come from those grapes?” They said “yes, do you want to see where it’s made?” ….and the rest is history.

RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?

SCOTT: I got my basic training in Germany but my recent winemaking style I attribute to my mentor, Dr. Richard Peterson.

RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?

SCOTT: Old world style. Wines that are drunk with food.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

SCOTT: Dr. Richard Peterson

RED: How long have you been making wine?

SCOTT: 37 years

RED: Who do you make wine for?

SCOTT: Myself, my wife, and our consumers

RED: Tell me, what makes Atlas Peak so special?

SCOTT: Only 2% of the world has a Mediterranean climate like Napa Valley with the warm days and cool nights along with its unique soils and geography.

RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?

SCOTT: You need to be a very clean and neat person. 90% of winemaking is janitorial.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

SCOTT: Bottling the wines in the barrels. Getting ready for the 2009 harvest.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today

SCOTT: It’s a full bodied Napa Valley Syrah from one of the best appellations in Napa Valley for Syrah—Atlas Peak.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

SCOTT: Duck breast.

RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know

SCOTT: I like to iron my own shirts.

RED:What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?

SCOTT: Chianti

RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?

SCOTT: People drink experiences. Have fun with the wine.

RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?

SCOTT: Whatever my wife wants to drink.

RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?

SCOTT: Question: Do you plan to make any new wines? Answer: I’d love to make a Gewurtztraminer but my wife won’t let me.

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work!

SCOTT: Thanks, again, Agent Red. Scott Harvey, over and out!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Atlas Peak region can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

The first release of Estate Merlot – Extremely Limited Production.

About This Wine:

This is the wine that put Astrale e Terra on the map, and we only make Merlot when we have a superior vintage to present. We bottled less than 100 cases of this wine at our Atlas Peak winery. Aged 3 years in French Oak and bottle aged for over 18 months, you will find this wine approachable now and it will benefit from cellaring for years to come.

The 2003 Estate Merlot, sourced exclusively from our hand tended vineyard in the Atlas Peak Appellation, is structured more like a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. With flavors of boysenberry, cherry Cola, white pepper and Asian spices, this full bodied Merlot has a remarkable finish that is all chocolate and coffee.

Structured like a Napa Valley Cab, this Merlot exhibits traditional Napa Valley dust characteristics (smell the summer rain falling on hot stones??) as well as flavors of chocolate, cherry Cola, white pepper and asian spice.

About The Winery:

Whether we were traveling abroad or eating at our favorite local restaurant, we enjoyed experiencing a diverse array of wines and determining our own criteria for what made a wine special.

For a long time owning a winery was just a dream, until the day we found the piece of land that we knew could be the home of a very special wine. We were driving up a peaceful, winding road in a small valley in northern California, 1,250 feet above the main valley floor and sheltered by stony, majestic hills. As we gazed at the cloudless azure sky and the softly rolling hills laced with grapevines, it felt as though we were in another world. We knew this was where our dreams of winemaking were going to be made a reality.

That day, we sensed two powerful forces at work: heaven and the earth. ‘Astrale e Terra’ is Italian for ‘heaven and earth,’ and with our interest in astronomy and archaeology, the name’s inspiration seemed only natural. We look forward to sharing the fruits of our labor of love with you!

About The Winemaker:

SCOTT HARVEY – Consulting Winemaker, Scott Harvey ranks among California’s most celebrated and accomplished winemakers. He fi rst came to the attention of wine lovers and the wine trade as winemaker at Santino and Renwood where he crafted wines from some of California’s oldest vineyards and helped put the Sierra Foothills on the winemaking map. In 1996 he partnered with Richard Peterson, Ph’D at Folie a Deux winery in Napa Valley. There the winemaking duo garnered a reputation for outstanding Napa Valley wines produced from estate fruit as well as from vineyards across the Valley.

After selling Folie a Deux in 2004, Harvey created a series of new brands that took advantage of his experience in both the Sierra Foothills and Napa Valley. One reason Scott chose to work with Astrale e Terra is his extreme admiration for Cabernet Sauvignon grown in the Atlas Peak appellation. According to Scott, “some of the best wines I’ve made have been produced from Cabernet Sauvignon grown in the Atlas Peak Appellation.”

As Astrale e Terra’s Consulting Winemaker, Scott is charged with overseeing harvest, winemaking procedure and the blending of the various lots that Astrale e Terra bottles from its estate vineyards.

Technical Analysis:

Varietals: 78% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot

Winemaker: Scott Harvey

Alcohol: 14.6

Production: 100 Cases

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