October 5, 2011

Merriam Vineyards Wine Tasting, Friday, Oct. 7th

Wine Tasting

Featuring Peter Merriam, Owner and Proprietor, Merriam Vineyards

4:00 – 7:00 PM


Oct. 7th

Peter and his wife are both native New Englanders. Peter is actually from Livermore, right here in Maine. One of their sons is at Bates College.

For 18 years they owned a wine store in the Boston area. In 1995, they started looking for a winery and vineyards in Sonoma. In 2000, they bought Windacre Vineyard.

Windacre has been a vineyard since 1890. In 1980 it was replanted with Bordeaux varietals. These grapes are happier here than most others because this is a warmer part of the Russian River Valley, so it is not as conducive to producing Pinot Noir.

They practice sustainable agriculture, including minimizing water usage and recycling what water they do use back into the land. They built an innovative pond system with aquatic plants to help do this.

The Wines

The White Wines

Merriam Vineyards Chardonnay Alexander Valley 2010 (California) $17.99 – This has a nice weighty feel to it because it was aged on its lees; at the same time it retains a nice crispness because it doesn’t see any new oak barrels. Definitely tropical fruit – peaches, nectarines, pears, melons, etc. 250 cases made. Aged sur-lie. Aged in 20% stainless steel and 80% neutral oak barrels. From a vineyard near Mayacamas Mountain. Food pairing – scallops, lobster, mussels, light meat poultry dishes..

Merriam Vineyards Chardonnay Simoneau Ranch 2009 (California) $23.99 – This has that characteristic Alexander Valley tropical fruit in the flavors and aromas. It has a lush and viscous mouthfeel after nearly a year of aging sur-lie with weekly stirrings while in the barrel. Aromas and flavors of kiwi, honeysuckle, mango, pears and peaches with subtle hints of baking spices and toasty oak. Single vineyard Chardonnay. 20-25 year-old vines. Planted to a bunch of clones – Wente #4, #5, Robert Young #15 and Musquet. Malolactic fermentation. Aged sur-lie. Aged 10 months in 33% new oak barrels. 225 cases made. Food pairing – salmon, roasted or grilled poultry.

The Red Wines

Merriam Vineyards SNED Red 2008 (California) $16.99 – This is inky dark. Aromas of black currants, dark chocolate, toast and mint. It’s mouth-filling and full. Flavors of dark chocolate, black fruit and a hint of pepper. Well-integrated tannins. This Sonoma County red is named for the Merriam children – Stefan, Nicholas, Evan & Danielle. Blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Petite Verdot. 462 cases made. Food pairing –.grilled ribs, duck, lamb, meats with hearty glazes.

Merriam Vineyards Merlot Windacre 2005 (California) $26.99 – This is a fabulously smooth and delicious Merlot. It has a wonderful balance of fruit and earth. Aromas of cherry cola and leather give way to flavors of blueberries and flowers. This is velvety with soft tannins. Windacre is in the Russion River Valley where the grapes benefit from the cool fog-driven micro-climate. At the same time this is the warmest part of the Russian River Valley, so it is planted to Bordeaux varietals rather than Pinot Noir. Blend of 93% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc. Aged 15 months in 40% French oak barrels. 1,100 cases made. Food pairing – lamb or duck dishes would work great. Gold Medal – Merlot over $20, International Eastern Winemaking Competition 2010

Merriam Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Dunnsden 2006 (California) $36.99 – This is supple and rich. The aromas show a lot of dark fruit, dark cherries, dark berries and more. The flavors add dark chocolate, raspberries, baking spices and vanilla to the mix. Long finish with soft tannings. Single vineyard wine from a gravelly hillside near Healdsburg. Blend of 95% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petite Verdot. Aged 18 months in 40% new French oak barrels. Bottle unfiltered and unfined. 150 cases made. Food pairing – grilled and roasted meats. Sitting in front of a fire. Gold Medal, San Francisco International Wine Competition 2011

Merriam Vineyards Cabernet Franc Jones Vineyard 2007 (California) $42.99 – This is only bottled in the best years. Aromas of plums, pepper, a touch of vanilla and some exotic fruit I can’t place. Flavors of blueberries, dark berries and white pepper. Single vineyard from the upper reaches of the Dry Creek Valley. This is just about the warmest vineyard in the area – which is critical for getting Cabernet Franc to fully ripen. Blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petite Verdot. Aged 24 months in 80% French and 20% American oak barrels. 400 cases made. Food pairing – A dark chocolate dessert. Gold Medal, Grand Harvest Awards 2011; Gold Medal, Tasters Guild International Wine Judging 2011; Wine Enthusiast, 90 points Merriam Vineyards Miktos 2007 (California) $49.99 – Diana Merriam is Greek; so this wine pays homage to her heritage. Miktos – Greek, meaning to blend. This is the Merriams take on a Bordeaux red. This picks up currents, power and more from the Cab. Sauv., a softness from the Merlot and a little pepper from the Cab. Franc. It’s smooth and well-integrated. Blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petite Verdot. Aged 24 months in French oak barrels. 150 cases made.

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