I still don’t know if this is pronounced “red” or “rude” but it is striking in label design and obviously in its taste. Regardless, the winery is located in Dry Creek Valley, a fertile 2-mile stretch of land that receives cool morning fog and abundant afternoon sun. Notes has profiled a Dry Creek wine or two in its day, including a Cabernet Sauvignon, and you can see the overall semblance of this red gem to those wines if you care to explore those tastings further.
This 2010 Meritage was part of a great gift set that I received from my mother for my birthday last month. It was not supposed to be the headliner of this trio (that was due to be The Mariner) of reds, but in truth it was. We enjoyed The Mariner to be sure, but whereas that wine did not quite live up to its reputation (I still think of its sharp notes) this Limited Production 201o wine very much did.
We uncorked the 2010 without much fanfare as part of our dinner preparations and did not let it breathe before tumbling it out, fresh, berry, and vibrant, into our waiting glassware. By contrast to the vineyard’s Mariner, it is much more even and less tannic in its makeup. You get a big whiff of cherry and black berry layered together, and a subtle little ribbon of vanilla that winds through the red blend. I’ve previously broken down the mix of this big red, and I think you get that vanilla from the Cab but am not really sure. Is it perhaps the Merlot that helps get that nice, meaty balance here? Try it and let me know.
The 2010 Heritage from Dry Creek Vineyard–one of the first post-Prohibition vineyards in Dry Creek Valley–accompanied a set of delicious steaks. My wife had doctored up the meat with a great spice rub of rosemary and sage, plus the usual salt and pepper, and I for a change remembered to pull the steaks from the grill with enough time to let ’em set up nicely on our plates. Complement that and the wine with some roasted potatoes (fingerlings?) and fresh asparagus and you’ve got quite a nice spread to enjoy with loved ones.
My only disappointment was the end of the bottle, and knowing that no more of these rest comfortably on our wine shelf for next weekend. Here’s to always leaving ’em wanting…
This Bordeaux-style red blend is produced by Dry Creek Valley Vineyard, a family-owned winery in northern Sonoma Valley. It’s been in the Stare family since 1972 when, inspired by trips to the Loire Valley, founder David Stare purchased an old prune orchard in Dry Creek Valley and started planting grape vines that would become his family’s winery. Today they produce single-vineyard wines, reds and whites in their “signature” series, and this Mariner–which I received as a special birthday gift.
The 2012 vintage has had accolades from various reviewers, and you can find them scattered throughout the web. If you’re still reading here on Notes, though, you’re less interested in numeric scoring or some high-brow critic’s take on this 2012 meritage. You’re looking for a “real world” analysis and I’m happy to share.
The first thing you should know is that the 2012 The Mariner accompanied our steak dinner on this Memorial Day weekend. My wife and I had an opportunity to slow down from the usual pace of the week, and we used it to great advantage. Our steaks were seasoned with a special home-made “proprietary” blend of spiced salt and smelled of sage, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. The steaks set for perhaps an hour, and we thought The Mariner would be a great complement, given its own hints of spice and blueberry smells. We also had corn fresh from the cob and a killer potato salad that tied the summer meal together–quite a platform on which to display The Mariner.
Here’s how the Stare family shares its summary of this delicious 2012 red blend: “The wine displays high-toned perfume aromas of rose petal, cranberry, blueberry and oregano. Several more minutes reveal hints of wild sage, allspice and dark cherry characters. The palate is full and rich with mouthfilling complexity carrying notes of espresso, sweet vanilla, anise and dark fruit tones. The tannins are smooth and supple providing balance and sophistication.” I wholeheartedly support their fruit flavors, but I am not sure the tannin profile is quite accurately posed. Even after allowing the bottle to breathe for some time, my wife noted its sharper scent on the nose and, though I thought it less pronounced in tasting, it is definitely still present (is that from the Malbec?). Not sure if aging the bottle for a longer period or perhaps decanting would bring it more in line with the winemaker’s original intentions?
The 2012 is a red blend consisting of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 8% Malbec, 8% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Franc, and its is aged for 20 months in French oak (50% new oak). It is very easy drinking and would be great to have another at some point in the future. The meal was fantastic, and the wine was really damn good too–there’s not a drop of this left after our Sunday dinner.