- Featured in the October 2009 Silenus Vintners Wine Club
- Retailed for $75
The 2005 vintage is a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Classically balanced, the wine has incredible elegance and length. The careful, small-scale winemaking preserved the complex layers of aromatics. The cool fall, and an early harvest date, provided for the full spectrum of flavors, from dried herbs through juicy red fruit to rich black fruit and chocolate. This vintage gave us the freshness and minerality that we strive for but can be very elusive in a rich powerful wine.
- Steve Matthiasson, Proprietor & Winemaker
The fruit is from two vineyards against the hills on the far west side of the Oak Knoll District. They are both on Dry Creek; one is in the mouth of the cool, breezy canyon, while the other is on a warm gravel bar. The cooler Cabernet vineyard, with its tannic structure and firm acidity, and the warm rocky Merlot vineyard, with its rich, ripe, aromatic fruit, comprise the blend every year. The 2005 vintage is a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon.
The fruit was fermented at low temperatures in small, open-top tanks (outside, next to the vineyard), and punched down by hand two to three times a day, depending on taste. The Cabernet Sauvignon and the Merlot were blended immediately after the lots were pressed, so that the wine could marry from the very beginning. The wine was aged in 50% new French oak, and 50% neutral barrels. After 10 months of elevage, with only one racking when it was blended, the wine was bottled, unfined and unfiltered.
The Red Hen Merlot Vineyard, along Dry Creek, at the very top of the creek’s alluvial fan, is a warm site with very light and thin soils, composed of a foot of silty loam sitting on top of at least 20 feet of pure cobble. The vines are naturally small berried and early ripening. The stress results in extremely low yields, barely making over a ton per acre of intense and concentrated fruit. In the 1950’s through the 1970’s, this block produced the top fruit for Christian Brothers, when it was still run by the Church (it was called “block 74”). It was forgotten about until we discovered it in 2003. We leased it so we cold farm it ourselves.
In the mouth of the Dry Creek Canyon, upstream from the Red Hen, The Meadowbrook Cabernet Sauvignon receives the nightly air current off of Mt. Veeder, which also blocks the intense late afternoon sun. This makes it the cool foil to the warmer Red Hen. The coolness and protection lets the fruit develop and maintain an unusually strong backbone of acidity and tannin. Every year, on schedule, as the nights get cold, the switch turns in the vines and the leaves turn color and drop before any other vineyard in the area, and the fruit is ready to harvest. The vineyard sits on old creek deposits, and the spots selected for harvest are on shallow, heavy clay with coarse sand, over dry cobbles and silt. This vineyard is a consulting client, and we cherry pick our fruit every year.