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Mer Soleil Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2004

Chardonnay from Central Coast, California
  • WE92
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Winemaker Notes

Initial aromas of the ripe apple/pear/grape combination inherent in Chardonnay quickly evolve into rich scents of mango, pineapple, lemon, butterscotch and subtle smoke. Explosive flavors—tropical fruits and spices with a balancing layer of zesty citrus from the mid-palate on through to the extended finish. Seems to fill every corner of the mouth.

Critical Acclaim

WE 92
Wine Enthusiast

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Mer Soleil

Mer Soleil

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Mer Soleil, , California
Mer Soleil
The Mer Soleil Vineyard is named for two natural forces that create its growing conditions: sea (mer) and sun (soleil). With plantings at two separate locations in the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation of Monterey County, Mer Soleil’s Chardonnay vines are nestled on east-facing lower slopes of the Sierra de Salinas range in what is one of the coolest, driest grape growing areas in California. During the growing season, warmer inland temperatures at the southern end of the Salinas Valley pull cooling morning and evening fogs into the vineyards. The afternoons, in contrast, are evenly warm and sunny. The absence of rain throughout the long growing season—harvest typically continues into November—and a pattern of brisk afternoon breezes keeps the grapes dry and pristine.

Charlie Wagner II is the winemaker and directs vineyard operations at Mer Soleil

One of the most iconic regions of Italy for wine, scenery, and history...

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One of the most iconic regions of Italy for wine, scenery, and history, Tuscany is the world’s most important outpost for the Sangiovese grape. Ranging in style from fruity and simply to complex and age-worthy, as well as in price from budget-friendly to ultra-premium, Sangiovese makes up a significant percentage of plantings here, with the white Trebbiano Toscano trailing far behind. Within Tuscany, many esteemed wines are produced in their respective sub-zones, including Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Bolgheri, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The climate is Mediterranean and the topography consists mostly of picturesque rolling hills, with the hillside locations hosting the best vines, as Sangiovese ripens most efficiently with maximum exposure to sunlight.

Sangiovese at its simplest, often carrying a regional designation of Chianti or just Italy, produces straightforward pizza-friendly wines with bright red fruit and not much more, but at its best it shows remarkable complexity. In top-quality Sangiovese-based wines, expressive notes of sour cherry, balsamic vinegar, dried herbs, leather, fresh earth, dried flowers, anise, tobacco smoke, and cured meat fill the glass. Brunello in particular is sensitive to vintage variation, performing best in years that are not too hot and not too cold. A more recent phenomenon as of the 1970s is the “Super Tuscan”—a wine made from international grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, or Syrah, often grown in Tuscany’s Bolgheri region, with or without Sangiovese. These tend to be big, bold, and modern in style, often with noticeable new oak, and sold at super-premium prices.

Bordeaux Blends

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One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine...

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One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington, and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and/or Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde river, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.

In the Glass

Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux can be bold and fruit-forward or restrained and earthy, while New World facsimiles tend to emulate the former style. In general, Bordeaux red blends can have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.

Perfect Pairings

Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful, and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb, or smoked duck.

Sommelier Secret

While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, or virtually any other grape deemed worthy by the winemaker. In Australia, Shiraz is a common component.

CAR28922_2004 Item# 87121

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