AVA St. Helena, Merryvale Vineyards, 2014
|Origin:||USA / California / Napa Valley|
Its exuberant bouquet is extremely complex and reaches from heavy scents of jasmine and hyacinth to notes of saffron, vanilla and nutmeg and all the way to aromas of ripe Mirabelle, pineapple and dried apple slices. The wood finish is clearly recognizable but melts harmoniously with the other aromatic components. Its creamy structure is supported by a juicy acidity. The wine appears compact and elegant even despite its opulence. It ends on a long and intensive finish.
|Origin:||USA / California / Napa Valley|
|Maturity:||2 to 6 years|
|Serving temperature:||10 to 12 °C|
|Drinking suggestion:||Mild Asian dishes, Moroccan specialities, Smoked fish, Fish ragout with saffron sauce, Giant crevettes, grilled langoustines, Risotto ai frutti di mare|
|Vinification:||fermentation with grapes' own yeast, fermentation of entire grape, fermentation in wooden barrel, soft pressing|
|Harvest:||hand-picking with simultaneous grape sel|
|Maturation:||in partly new and used barriques/ Pièces, on the yeast|
|Maturation duration:||12 months|
USA - Yes, they can!
The United States is the third-largest nation on the planet in terms of both land area (after Russia and Canada) and population (after China and India). Every conceivable climate zone can be found in the US, from hot deserts to arctic frost. Thanks to immigration from all over the world, the US is probably the most multicultural country on the planet. Thus it has the ideal conditions for producing internationally recognized wine.
California: Lots of fruit and ripe tannins
Around 90 percent of the wine produced in the USA comes from California. The Napa Valley, situated roughly 100 kilometers north of San Francisco, is the most prominent wine region in the western hemisphere. California vintners first caused an international sensation with Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Today, however, superior wines are also produced from Pinot Noir, Syrah and other varieties. California’s wine country shows more variety today than ever before.
At a young age, Jack Schlatter travelled from Switzerland to Dallas in the 1950s to work in the cotton trade. He later moved to Mexico and São Paulo (as a coffee tester) and back to Zurich to develop the cotton business in the Eastern bloc. But he always had one foot in Dallas and entered the real estate business there. The wine business also appealed to him early on. But it was a while before he met Bill Harlan, the owner of Merryvale.
The winery was founded in 1933 by a group of partners shortly after the Prohibition era ended, and it attracted over the decades several famous personalities as partners, consultants or owners: Peter and Robert Mondavi from the beginning and then Bill Harlan in the 1980s. Jack Schlatter became a fifty-fifty partner in 1991 and brought the winery into the European and Asian markets. He purchased the winery outright in 1994. Today, his son René stands firmly at the helm.
The historic building is located in the south of the small town of St. Helena at the heart of Napa Valley. The winery-owned Estate Vineyards lie to the east of St. Helena at about 280 metres above sea level. Around 10 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot were planted here in 1997. At that time, Michel Rolland was the expert consultant for Merryvale.
King or beggar?
Hardly any variety of vine shows such a broad spectrum of quality as the Chardonnay. Its wines range from faceless neutrality to breath-taking class. It is an extremely low-maintenance vine, which explains why it is grown around the world – even in places where it probably should not be. The aromas of the Chardonnay variety are not very pronounced: a bit of green apple, a little hazelnut; in warmer latitudes, also melon and exotic fruits. The wines are often defined by maturing in casks. They develop more or less subtle notes of butter, toasted bread and vanilla. The grapes achieve their highest expression in their region of origin, Burgundy. Its heart beats in the Côte de Beaune: one might think of the plant growth of Meursault or Puligny-Montrachet. With their finesse and complexity, they can survive for decades. Chardonnay also achieves first class in some Blanc-de-Blancs champagnes. It additionally yields great wines in the Burgundian Chablis, and increasingly in Australia and Chile. A simple rule of thumb for pairing with food: When butter and cream are involved, you cannot go wrong with Chardonnay.