2005 Estate Merlot
Merlot • Estate Vineyard
California: Sonoma Valley
What we say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT!
Today’s wine deserves special recognition as a beautiful example of California Merlot.
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Mission Codename: The Sesquicentannial
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Gundlach-Bundschu and retrieve the wine that they are best-known for, their estate Merlot
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Gundlach-Bundschu
Wine Subject: 2005 Estate Merlot
Winemaker: Jeff Bundschu
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 all other varietals. Merlot is sincere wine for serious wine drinkers. If you think that Merlot is not for you, forget everything that you think you know about Merlot and embrace this spectacular example. Read Agent Red’s mission report, immediately following his tasting notes.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep burgundy with a deep and inky heart. When swirled, this wine shows a springy surface and leaves behind a mix of skinny and chubby legs that crawl down the glass at varying speeds
Smell – Deep and lush, with extracted aromas of blackberry, black cherry, plum, sweetwoods and mild spices, with dark river rock, sweet fresh mulch and sheet metal (unique!)
Feel – Soft and round, light at first, then the wine grips gently at the your cheeks as it coats your mouth. The wine has balanced light-to-medium tannins that introduce a slight dryness that makes your mouth water
Taste – This wine present dark and lush layers of blackberry, cherry, toasty raisin, black tea, cedar and a hint of mildest spice. Perfectly balanced acidity amkes this wine a perfect companion for most meals
Finish – A super long finish, with flavors that change from tart to sweet to slightly smoky as they tail off slowly
Conclusion – Yes! Another great wine from our friends at Gundlach-Bundschu. This Merlot is rich and dusky and delicious, representing the finest Sonoma County Merlot we have had the pleasure to enjoy. With aromas and flavors that pop as you swirl, sniff and sip, this is a fun wine to experience. If you love great Merlot (or not!), I promise that this is one of the finest you have ever tried from The Wine Spies!
When we first infiltrated the Gundlach-Bundschu Winery earlier this year, we came to recognize the passion that is apparent in each sip of their wonderful wines. Today, Gundlach-Bundschu is a Wine Spies favorite.
Below, you will find a recap of my first mission to Gundlach-Bundschu. First, however, I would like to provide you with an update on recent happenings at the Gundlach-Bundschu Winery.
Agent Green, our newest Wine Spies agent, heads up environmental initiatives for The Wine Spies. Green is keeps our operation in balance with the environment, and is always on the lookout for wineries that are employ or promote sustainable and renewable practices.
One of the wineries that caught Agent Green’s attention of late was, you guessed it, Gundlach-Bundschu. News of the planning and installation of an innovative new floating solar array was leaked to him by one of our moles at the winery, and Green even managed to intercept the following draft press release:
[the following is not meant for public display or reproduction]
Gundlach Bundschu Winery is celebrating their 150th anniversary by installing two solar arrays on their Sonoma estate, including the first Floatovoltaic™ installation in Sonoma County.
Designed and installed by SPG Solar, Inc. of Novato, CA, the 30kw Floatovoltaic system provides 100% of the power used by the winery’s water reclamation system. A series of ponds and man-made wetlands filters all the winery wastewater, ultimately recycling 70% for use in the vineyard. The new solar array secures 162 Sharp solar panels on pontoons that float on one of the ponds, generating enough power to fully power the pumps, monitors and other electrical needs of the system. When the ponds were first installed in 2006, electric bills were extremely high. Now, we expect a net-zero to $200 annual bill.
The second array, which went live on November 20th, is an 80kw system that now provides 60% of the winery power needs. Gundlach Bundschu pulled out 1.3 acres of five-year-old Dijon 667 pinot noir vines in July to install the system, which is roughly equivalent to $70,000 dollars’ worth of bottled Gundlach Bundschu wines annually.
Sixth-generation vintner and president Jeff Bundschu is continually, actively looking at every aspect of his business to promote conservation and eco-system health while producing the highest quality wines. “In addition to our existing practices in the vineyard and winery — eliminating pesticides, using biodiesel, recycling water, reducing packaging and using recycled materials — the solar program is another important step in our family’s goal to eventually become carbon neutral.”
Agent Green says, “Jeff Bundschu, you are my hero!”
Prior Mission Recap:
I don’t receive much postal mail, and when I do, its usually junk mail. Certainly, the letter I received last week stood out; It was in a bright yellow envelope with a double-struck and unreadable postmark.
On opening the envelope, a single sheet fell to the desk. Pasted to the paper were four images: A pistol, a padlock, a cinnamon roll and a men’s dress shoe. All if the images seemed to have been clipped from magazine pages and stuck, from top to bottom, to the sheet. There were no words on the page and no indication on page or envelope where the ‘communication’ had come from.
For the next 48 hours, I obsessed over the page, struggling to decode its hidden meaning. The whiteboard walls in my office were filled with analysis, supposition and even translations of the images into foreign languages. I cross compared and correlated my findings with known wineries, my informants, moles, assets and field operatives. I applied infinite combinations, but could not find a result that made any sense.
With only a few hours of sleep during this arduous period, I was, admittedly, a wreck. Agent Sparkle didn’t know what I was working on, but she decided that I needed to get out of my lab, and out into the world. She coaxed me out to our favorite local cafe. I packed my attache with a note pad and a few items – in case inspiration struck – and headed out.
We got our Breve Lattes and made our way to a corner table. As I was setting my drink down, my attache opened, its contents spilling out onto the floor. Great.
Agent Sparkle bent to pick up some of the papers that had fallen – and she came up with the mystery sheet.
“Hey, that’s clever – and sort of cute! Gun, lock, bun, shoe… Gundlach-Bundschu,” She said.
I grinned sheepishly and took a sip of my latte. How could I have been so…
Just then, my phone rang. “Agent Red here,” I answered.
“Hey Red, its Jeff Bundschu! I expected you to have called me by now. You got my letter, right?”
I paused. “Oh, hi Jeff. Sorry, I’ve been away, umm, on a covert mission, yeah, that’s why I couldn’t call you.”
“Whatever you say, Red. Anyway, I know that you’ve been trying to get a meeting with me for the past few months. Good things come to those who wait, my friend. I have an awesome Pinot Noir for you and your Operatives. Come on by and see how you like it.”
Did I like the wine? I loved it, and I snagged some for you, dear Operative. I do, after all, still have what it takes!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Gundlach-Bundschu winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
The juicy, dense palate is framed by broad, finely textured tannins. The elegant structure and bright acidity carry the flavors through a long, lingering finish.
About This Wine:
Aromas and flavors of spiced black cherry, dark plum, blueberry and a beautifully integrated layer of tea leaf. The juicy, dense palate is framed by broad, finely textured tannins. The elegant structure and bright acidity carry the flavors through a long, lingering finish. Delicious upon release, this Merlot will benefit from five years of cellaring and continue to age gracefully for 10 to 12 years.
A cool and unseasonably wet spring and early summer led to excessive vine growth that could easily have put the plants out of balance with respect to fruit and foliage. This meant that workers made numerous passes through the vineyards to remove leaves, thus promoting balance. The mild daytime temperatures through harvest worked to the advantage of wine quality in that this was the optimum environment for flavor and aroma compounds to develop.This coupled with warm nighttime temperatures, which promoted tannin maturity, makes for a vintage of very promising wine quality.
About The Winery:
For 150 years we Bundschus have hiked, biked, fished, flown, sailed, surfed and otherwise explored the outdoors of Northern California and far beyond.
While we delight in adventure, two important things we’ve learned from our travels are, first, always carry a map, and second, there is nothing better than coming home. Even if you never set foot in Sonoma or get to smell the Watusi up close, we invite you to visit us anytime by simply pulling a cork.
About The Winemaker:
Linda Trotta’s lifelong enchantment with wine grew out of her Italian heritage and evolved into a fascination with the distinct personality of vineyards and an awe of the great socializing powers of the fruit of her labor. The bucolic countryside of Sonoma is a world away from the Burbank neighborhood where, as a young girl, Linda helped her Italian immigrant great-grandfather and grandfather make wine. “I grew up with wine as a staple at family meals,” recalls Linda, “it never occurred to me that people made a living making wine.”
Linda studied at UC Davis and spent a year at the University of Padova, near Venice, studying Italian language and culture and working a harvest at Santa Margherita Winery.
A math major before discovering viticulture and enology, Linda earned a bachelor’s degree in Fermentation Science in 1986. One year after joining Gundlach Bundschu Winery as enologist, Linda became winemaker in 1990. In her first decade on Rhinefarm, Linda grew to understand the vineyard’s unique character, with a climate on the warm side of cool, and diverse soils ranging from the clay and gravel basin of Carneros to the volcanic hillsides of the Mayacamas Mountains.
“Rhinefarm’s climate is warmer than Carneros but cooler than Napa. As a result, the wines have both finesse and power, as well as an elegant structure that allows them to age extremely well.” Literally growing up with many of the blocks that were planted in the early 1990s, Linda became obsessed with the nuances of each corner of the vineyard, always seeking to clearly express their distinctive character in her wines.
Well into her second decade as Gundlach Bundschu’s winemaker, this intimate experience with the vineyard allows Linda to manage the health of each vine during the growing season and craft her wines block by block. She shows no signs of complacency. “With 148 years of history growing grapes on this property, we’re still learning this site. I never feel done; there is always something new to learn, a way to improve, a different situation to consider. Each day— each vintage—there is a different path to the same goal—to produce wines that live up to Rhinefarm’s potential and are worthy of the company in which they are shared. I must say, the only constant over the years has been the good cheer and appreciation of life that the Bundschu family brings to the journey.”
Blend: Final blend of consisting of 94% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc. 2% Malbec and 1% Syrah
Wine Type: Medium Red Wine
Appellation: Sonoma Valley
Harvest Date: September 2005
Oak: 17 months i n100% French oak, 40% new
Aging: 10-12 Years
Bottling Date: May 2007
Production: 8,354 Cases