"Ever since I first started making a Merlot based
Bordeaux blend from our Knights Valley fruit, I've enjoyed the process. As each vintage
comes and the grapes show more and more mature flavors and complexity, the excitement has
compounded. The spectrum of aromas, flavors, colors and tannins I have to play with is
awesome in any vintage, and in 2000 I was especially enamored of the brightness of the
cherry and blackberry characteristics in the Merlot we harvested."
-Ed Sbragia, Winemaster
Winemaster Ed Sbragia and vineyard manager
Bob Steinhauer first began working together with Knights Valley fruit in the late seventies. They spent the next decade learning the vineyard's
personality and understanding the varied microclimates and alluvial soil types that occurred throughout the property. Merlot is
planted in loamier soils near the center of the alluvial fan and the vines are trained and managed so that the fruit clusters are exposed to the early morning sun and shaded by their leaves from the warmer afternoon sun. "One of our values as a winery is that the vineyards are an extension of the winemaking thought process," explains Steinhauer.
Ed and Laurie kept all of the lots separate during vinification and aging to protect the subtle differences individual parts
of the vineyard exhibited. The wines were then aged in small French oak barrels for 22 months to soften the tannins and to add vanilla and sweet spice characters. The blend they chose is a lush, intense-cherry/blackberry core of 75 percent Merlot and layered 17 percent Cabernet Sauvignon to support the structure and add depth to the dark fruit aromas and flavors. Small amounts of Malbec, Petite Verdot and Cabernet Franc added more spice and fruit nuances to the palate, giving an overall impression of plushness and depth.
"Sonoma's most inland appellation, where days get hot, is home to this Merlot-based, five-varietal Bordeaux blend. It's ripe in blackberries and plums, with herb and coffee complexities. Completely dry, with soft, smooth tannins, it's a heck of a good food wine."