Thursday, July 12, 2018

Virtual Tasting With Murrieta's Well

There's nothing better than gathering with fellow wine lovers to share some new and favorite bottles, talk about the wines, and leave fortified with enhanced wine knowledge. Over the past month, I've been to a wine-geek dinner party, a festival of rosé wines, a smaller tasting of Italian wines, and most recently to a "virtual" tasting sponsored by Snooth, an online community for wine and food lovers.

This latest tasting allowed me to sit in my own dining room with five bottles of wine (I shared mine with a fellow wine lover), which had been shipped to me before the tasting. An online moderator and the winemaker – in this case, Robbie Meyer of Murrieta's Well estate vineyard of Livermore, California – walked the community through each wine, offering tasting and technical notes as well as some historical facts about the estate.

Murrieta's Well is owned by Wente Family Estates, which bills itself as the oldest continuously operated, family-owned winery in the the US. It was founded in 1883, and currently fourth- and fifth-generation Wentes are running the group of wineries. Wente Vineyards is renowned for helping to make Chardonnay the best-selling variety among American drinkers. Other wineries in the group besides Murrieta's Well are entwine, Hayes Ranch, and Double Decker.

Being a fan of the environment, I was very pleased to see that a winery on the scale of Wente (approximately half a million cases per year) had earned the "Certified California Sustainable Vineyard and Winery" designation for all aspects of its business. (See my previous posting on Fetzer-Bonterra, another environmentally and socially conscious large-scale winery.)

The Tasting


The wines of Murrieta's Well that we tasted included a couple from Wente's Small Lot "winery-within-a-winery." This program was created in 2002 to produce small lots from selected vineyard blocks.

Among the Small Lot wines we tasted are the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc and the yet-to-be-released 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Vines are descended from Chateau d'Yquem
The Sauvignon Blanc is a mineral-driven, cirtusy and floral wine, produced from descendants of the original Chateau d'Yquem cuttings planted in the late 19th century. The parcel where these vines live is part of the original 92-acres of the property and features well-drained gravelly soils. Just 30 barrels of this 100% sauvignon blanc were produced, and the retail price is around $35.

The Cabernet Sauvignon, which will be released this September, is mostly Cab with some Petit Verdot and Malbec blended in. This fruit-forward cab, of which 27 barrels were produced, is still a bit rough around the edges, but began to open up once poured into the glass, revealing plum, chocolate, earth, black olive and some nice tannins. With some aging, this should prove to be a lovely California Cab. Pricing was not yet available for this one.

Other wines tasted included a refreshing summer 
Rosé, composed of Grenache, Counoise and Mourvedre. All wineries seem to be doing a rosé
these days (as they should, see my thoughts on this from 2013), and about 2,000 cases of this one were produced. Priced at $30 (California rosés are still a bit pricey, by about $10, in my opinion), this gem was a glass of strawberries and melon, and a perfect sipper or BBQ wine.

The Spur and The Whip red and white blends, respectively
The Whip 2016 is a white blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay, Orange Muscat and Viognier, and offered a lower-acid sipper than the straight sauvignon blanc, with beautiful aromatics and a silken mouthfeel. At $26 retail, this is nice.

The Spur 2015 is a red wine blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. The wines are fermented separately then blended and aged for 24 months in new and used French barrels. This a big, bold, red that would pair well with heavier foods, like BBQ beef. Price is $30.

Winemaker Robbie Meyer was hired by Wente in 2015 and had previously worked at prestigious Napa wineries such as Peter Michael Winery, Lewis Cellars and Jericho Canyon Vineyards. He guided the attendees of the Snooth virtual tasting through his wines and answered the numerous questions posed by the few dozen attendees of the event. All in all, I enjoyed the virtual tasting, and hope to do more in the future.


For more information on Snooth online community visit them at www.snooth.com.

For more information on Murrieta's Well visit https://murrietaswell.com/

For more information on Wente Family Estates visit https://wentefamilyestates.com/

Until next time, Cheers!


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