2006 Reserve Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre
Red Blend • Pinnacles Vineyard
California: Monterey County
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Mission Codename: Rhone, Rhone on the Range
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Send Agent Red to Estancia Estate, one of Monterey County’s premier wineries, in order to secure a final allocation of their 2006 Reserve GSM – before they run out
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Estancia Estates
Wine Subject: 2006 Reserve GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre)
Winemaker: Scott Kelley
Backgrounder: The Southern Rhone Valley in France is famous for its Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre-based blends that dance on the palate with a range of flavors, richness and elegance. With the popularity and awareness of such wines, more and more California producers are trying their hand with proprietary Rhone style blends. While these blends do not have to adhere to the strict AOC restrictions, they do capture the style very well – and even, on occasion, excel. Today’s selection is 47% Grenache, 41% Syrah and 12% Mourvedre.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark red plum hues at with a deeper core of clear black cherry juice. At the rim, a thin line of pretty purple encircles the glass. Skinny legs rush down the edges of the glass when swirled.
Smell – Heady and lush, with bold fruit of blackberry, black cherry, dark plum and dark blueberry. These are accompanied by softly smoked black fig, dark chocolate, soft black pepper and a hint of toasty oak.
Feel – Cool and light across the tip of the tongue. Then, plush tannins slowly add a hint of grip that spreads around the palate, leading to a mineral-pepper dryness at the edges of the palate, the cheeks and, eventually, the lips.
Taste – Dark fruit of smoky black cherry, bold blackberry and plum lead the charge. These are accompanied by dark cranberry, cassis, subtle blueberry, spice and flinty minerals.
Finish – This wine finishes full and very flavorful, with plenty of dark fruit. Spice and minerals also linger as the wine transforms in your mouth, leading to a soft dryness that reminds you to take another hearty sip.
Conclusion – Estancia shows off its exceptional heritage with this exceptional wine! It is bold, delicious and very well balanced. I am very hard to please when it comes to GSM blends. I almost always find them too astringent and very angular. This wine shows finesse and style with its lush fruit. It is still bold, but balanced – without being boring in any way. With bright acids and a fantastic feel, this wine makes an easy food-pairing companion that would go with most anything. A great tribute to the quality established by wine legend, Augustin Huneeus, this wine is an easy selection for those that love great GSMs.
SUBJECT: Scott Kelley, Estancia
PLACE OF BIRTH: Salinas, CA
WINE EDUCATION: UC Davis
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: General Manager and Director of Wine Making-Estancia
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Estancia’s winemaking philosophy continues to be firmly rooted in terroir, with the goal of producing wines that reflect the unique vineyards and appellations in which they are cultivated.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Pinot Noir
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Becoming GM and Director of Winemaking at Estancia.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “It begins and ends in the Vineyard.”
AGENT RED: Greetings, Scott. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Estancia Reserve GSM today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
SCOTT: Thank you very much. Always happy to chat with the Wine Spies!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
SCOTT: I knew I wanted to do this since I was seventeen. I grew up in agriculture family and had an early interest in chemistry while in high school. I really found winemaking to be the perfect blend of agriculture and chemistry. My older brother was into viticulture as well, so that probably influenced my career direction a bit.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
SCOTT: Growing up I had a lot of varied interests, not just in oenology but also in food science, so I pursued studies in Fermentation Science at the University of California at Davis. In addition to winemaking, I also explored the principles and science behind distillation, food engineering and even a little cheese-making. Since my brother and I were experimenting with home brewing during the summers, I took the opportunity to study at Davis’ Institute of Brewing Studies, eventually earning a Master Brewers Certificate. After Davis, I joined the Carmel Brewing Company, and eventually assembled a brewpub in Monterey from the ground up, formulating the recipes and brewing all the beer that we would serve on tap. I had always enjoyed the engineering side of things such as fluid dynamics and heat transfer, and working in a small brewpub allowed me to be hands-on throughout the brewing process and use some of the mechanical skills I learned growing up.
Ultimately though, I found that brewing didn’t really fulfill my creative side, and I found myself gravitating back toward winemaking. In 2000, I joined the Robert Mondavi family of wines working on a variety of brands that took me from Australia to Italy. These experiences abroad really shaped my philosophy about wine and winemaking, my travels to Italy clarified the synergy between wine and food, while making wine in Australia introduced me to a new approach with a focus on the details and the idea that you only get one chance to make a wine great.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
SCOTT: Winemaking fulfills my artistic side without giving up the innovative hands-on experience that keeps me in touch with my family’s roots in agriculture. I enjoy all of the challenges that each vintage presents in order to shape the style of wines we make at Estancia.. Our winemaking style is one that fully embraces the coastal terroir.
RED: Tell me, what makes the Monterey and the Central Coast region so special?
SCOTT: Born and raised in Monterey County, I have tremendous respect for the climate – the wind and fog and the impact it has on the fruit and wine. Whether it is using less oak in the Chardonnay to protect the tropical characters or fermenting Pinot Noir only in open-top fermenters to respect the silky tannins, I am really passionate about making estate-based wines that have truly have a reason for being.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
SCOTT: When I am not making wine, my fiancée Dena and I try to find time to pursue one of our many hobbies. We golf, cook, hunt, scuba diving and we go fly fishing for Steelhead in Oregon.
RED: What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
SCOTT: It’s tough to pick a “favorite” as it really depends on what time of year it is or what we might be enjoying for dinner. Pinot Noir is always a favorite, and I have to say that that the more we play around with the Grenache fruit that we have on some of our Estate properties the more excited I am getting about that varietal.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
SCOTT: Thanks, this has been a lot of fun. I hope everyone enjoys the GSM!
Wine Spies Winery Check:
The location of the Estancia Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
About This Wine:
GSM, you ask? It stands for Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre – the three grapes blended to make this wine. They’re also the principal varieties of France’s Rhone Valley. Syrah holds sway in the north around Hermitage, Grenache dominates the southern Rhone region of Chateauneuf du Pape, while Mourvedre is used in the south to add complexity to blends. The three come together as an homage to Chateauneuf de Pape. The wine debuted with the 2002 vintage and has sold out quickly with each new vintage.
Less than 400 cases of this reserve blend from Estancia’s Pinnacles Vineyard in Monterey County were produced. Expressive of the style of the legendary wines of France’s Southern Rhone region, this Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre blend captures the essence of Pinnacles Vineyard, with bright fruit, soft texture and haunting smoky notes.
About The Winery:
Estancia: Capturing the Esssence of “Place”
Roughly translated from the Spanish word for “estate,” Estancia’s name emphasizes our founder, Augustin Huneeus’ conviction that the world’s best wines capture the essence of their place of origin.
Huneeus was Chilean by birth and had been in the international wine business 25 years when he became a partner and acting president of Franciscan Vineyards in 1985. His experiences in South America and Europe gave him special insight on site selection and fueled his belief that good wine should uniquely express the place in which it’s grown.
In 1986, he purchased the former Paul Mason vineyard ranches in the Monterey town of Soledad and established it as the home of Estancia Winery and of cool climate varietals, planting the Pinnacles Vineyards to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
In 1999, almost 700 acres in Paso Robles were purchased as the vineyard base for Estancia Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel and Red Meritage.
Today, our founder’s terroir-based belief continues with controlled farming practices and a company-wide commitment to high quality at an affordable price.
About The Winemaker:
Scott Kelley joined Estancia in the spring of 2007 as Director of Winemaking. In this role at Estancia, Scott is responsible for the day-to-day activities of winemaking. Some of these daily activities will include walking the vineyards, tasting each barrel to determine blending, aging and bottling, and working directly with the cellar to craft each wine with its own distinct flavor profile.
From the time Scott was 17 he knew he wanted to be a winemaker. Born and raised on a small ranch outside Salinas, California, his family has always been connected to agriculture. After one high school summer of working as a sugar sampler and mechanic for a vineyard management company in Soledad, Scott decided to combine his passion for chemistry and agriculture by pursuing a college education in enology.
Directly after graduating college, Scott began a short stint as an assistant brewmaster for Carmel Brewing Co. in Salinas, managing all aspects of brewing from grain to glass. A year later, he joined Golden State Vintners in Napa Valley as a laboratory supervisor then was promoted to cellar master and eventually assistant winemaker. Following Golden State Vintners, Scott then worked as a winemaker for La Famiglia and then Robert Mondavi Private Selection before joining Estancia in 2007.
Scott earned a Bachelor of Science degree in fermentation science from the University of California at Davis and was also awarded a Certification of Master Brewers Program. An avid outdoorsman, Scott enjoys golf, hunting and fly-fishing for Steelhead in Oregon. He currently resides in south Monterey County and is soon to be married to his fiancee, Dena.
Wine Type: Red Wine