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Beaux Freres The Beaux Freres Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009
The aromas are earthy – with underbrush and herbs playing on the dark fruit. Medium to full bodied, highlighting this vintages hallmarks – low acidity and sweet tannin; it is silky and spicy with an earthiness comparable to a premier cru from the Nuits-St.-Georges. Normally our wines are Oregon versions of burgundies from the northern Côtes de Nuits, but this offering has a distinct terroir earthiness that sets it apart from the other wines. This wine should age well for a decade.
Light and spicy, with pretty red berry and cinnamon flavors that linger against refined tannins. The flavors expand with each sip, picking up extra mineral and earth nuances, as the finish sails on unabated. It's the length that makes this special. Drink now through 2019.
Planting began in 1988 with Pinot Noir vines planted tightly spaced at a density of about 2200 plants to the acre. Currently the vines range in age from 3 to 12 years and are a mixture of own-rooted Pommard and Wädenswil clones and various of the new Dijon clones on phylloxera-resistant rootstocks.
This new parcel is located a good spoon-mashie-niblick combination as the golf ball flies northwest from heart of The Beaux Frères Vineyard. The 'Upper Terrace' vineyard is ten plantable acres of southeast-facing hillsides of Willakenzie soils at elevations similar to those of The Beaux Frères Vineyard. Eight of the ten acres are currently planted to various of the new Dijon clones of Pinot Noir. We look for good things to come from this new parcel beginning with the 2002 vintage.
One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production and tourism, the Napa Valley is the AVA that brought worldwide recognition to California winemaking. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two are St.-Helena and the valley's newest AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap District, and Mt. Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot’s subtle tannins make it perfect for early drinking and allow it to pair with a wide range of foods. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc, and on the Left Bank, it plays a supporting role to (and helps soften) Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. They are often emulated elsewhere in Bordeaux-style blends, particularly in California’s Napa Valley, where Merlot also frequently shines on its own.
In the Glass
Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry, and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco, and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.
Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.
Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.