Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Infiltrate Bartholomew Park Winery in Sonoma, California. There procure their sought-after Single Vineyard Desnudos Merlot for our Merlot-loving Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Bartholomew Park Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 Desnudos Vineyard Merlot
Winemaker: Keith Emerson
Associate Winemaker: Jessica Koga
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 most other varietals. Merlot is a sincere, food-fabulous wine for serious wine drinkers. Today’s wine raises the bar for Sonoma Merlot, by delivering a delicious, complex, fruit-forward wine with plenty of complexity
The Sonoma Valley AVA is one of the oldest wine growing regions in California with the first vines being planted in the early 1800s. The AVA is located along California Route 12 and its eastern boundary are the southern end of the Mayacama mountains. The unique micro-climate with less rainfall and fog than other parts of the region along with its unique soil provides ideal growing conditions for Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel.
Look – Darkest garnet hues, with a deep, inky heart. Color is evenly concentrated, but at the edge of the wine, a lovely ring of brickish red runs a wide ring around the wine. After swirling, chubby, slow-moving, wine-stained tears move very slowly down the glass.
Smell – Lush and heady, with layers of fruit, spice and savory character. At first, a bold rush a jammy blackberry, black cherry and raspberry leap from the glass. Black currant, black plum, braised fig and spiced blueberry follow on. As the wine breathes, it begins to reveal additional aromas of leather, cigar box, cocoa and dried fall leaves.
Feel – Soft and lightweight at the tip of the tongue. Then, the wine slowly digs in, spreading a dark, mineral-laden dryness to the far corners of the palate. Plush tannins and a dark acidity combine to frame the fruit, driving flavors to the far corners of the palate.
Taste – Dark black cherry, blackberry, black plum, braised fig and black currant take lead, here. After a moment, when the wine settles onto the palate, it reveals softly spiced cherry candy, dark leather, dried fall leaves, toasty oak, sweet brown spice and a hint of slate minerality.
Finish – Very long and filled with dark fruit. Slowly, the fruit fades, eventually replaced by spice and earthy characteristics. At the very end, a soft, slate-mineral dryness is ushered in by a hint of black pepper.
Conclusion – Keith Emerson once again impresses us with his winemaking prowess. Not only is his skill reflected in today’s 2006 Bartholomew Park Desnudos Vineyard Merlot, but the vineyard and the fruit should also receive equal credit. Today’s Merlot is a terrific example of how, when everything works, this varietal can really shine. Plush and delicious, the dark fruit balances just perfectly against the wines more earthy characteristics. Slate, dried leaves, leather and spice are such a lovely counterpoint to the juicy dark berries and stonefruit. Merlot is almost always a great compliment to a fine meal and this wine is a delightful example of this quality. We paired ours with Moroccan stew, served with spiced lamb kabobs. Each sip complimented the meal while providing a delicious cleanse of the palate, between bites. Enjoy this highly recommended wine now and lay a few bottles down for the next several years.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Keith Emerson
WINE EDUCATION: University of California at Davis
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Cakebread Cellars before joining Gundlach Bundschu. In 2004, worked a harvest at Palliser Estate in Martinborough, New Zealand
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “My goal as a winemaker is to tell the story of each vineyard site”
The location of the Bartholomew Park Winery winery can be seen in this satellite photo.