Schweiger Vineyards Merlot 2007
Situated at an elevation of 2,000 feet with rich volcanic soil and a unique microclimate, the Schweiger family realized the potential for successful wine production. The laboring process to clear the heavily forested property began in 1979.
During the two years of clearing, old redwood hand-split stakes were discovered spaced a meter by a meter, reaffirming the stories that the area was once a prime viticultural area in the 1880's. With a "hands on" approach, the Schweiger family laid out and planted the 34 acres of Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon in 1981.
Schweiger Vineyards was successful from the beginning with the first harvest in 1984 bringing great demand for grape contracts from Cafaro Cellars, Stags' Leap Winery, ZD, and other highly esteemed wineries. In 1994, Schweiger Vineyards received its bonded winery permit and kicked off their first release of Chardonnay in the fall of 1995. This was followed a year later with the release of the 1994 Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Schweiger Vineyards is a family operation, with each family member contributing different areas of expertise in the winemaking process. The family prides itself on growing, producing, and bottling their handmade estate wine with extreme measures of care.
Above the town of St. Helena on the eastern slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains sits the Spring Mountain District.
A dynamic region, its vineyards, cut by numerous springs and streams, vary in elevation, slope and aspect. Soils differ throughout with over 20 distinct types inside of the 8,600 acres that define the appellation. Within that area, only about 1,000 are planted to vineyards. Predominantly farmed by small, independent producers, the region currently has just over 30 wineries.
During the growing season, late afternoon Pacific Ocean breezes reach the Spring Mountain vineyards, which sit at between 400 and 1,200 feet. Daytime temperatures during mid summer and early fall remain slightly cooler than those of the valley floor.
Spring Mountain soils—volcanic matter and sedimentary rock—create intense but balanced reds with lush and delicate tannins. The area excels with Bordeaux varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot and in some cooler spots, Chardonnay.
An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot can be made into a range of styles from everyday-drinking to world-renowned and age-worthy. Merlot is the dominant variety in the best wines from Bordeaux’s Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol where it is blended with Cabernet Franc. On the Left Bank in the Medoc, it plays a supporting role to Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. Merlot also frequently shines on its own, particularly from California’s Napa Valley.
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 with Cabernet Franc.