91 Points - Wine & Spirits Magazine
Regular WineHeist fans are no doubt familiar with Schug Estate, founded in Carneros by Walter Schug over 30 years ago. While Carneros is probably best known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, in the early days of this region, much of it was planted to Bordeaux varieties like Cabernet and Merlot. As the winemaker for Joseph Phelps in the 1970s, Walter Schug clearly knew his way around the grapes of Bordeaux. Since Carneros is cooler than Napa, the resulting Bordeaux style wines tend to be lighter bodied and more elegant, which perfectly suits the winemaking at Schug.
This classically structured Merlot is crafted in the Bordeaux style that Walter Schug pioneered in California while winemaster of Joseph Phelps Vineyards (1973 to 1983). This Merlot was grown on the Sangiacomo Vineyard in the Carneros district of southern Sonoma Valley. Judicious amounts of Cabernet, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cab Franc were added from renowned Pickberry, Magnolia and Rancho Salina Vineyards which added richness and depth to this outstanding blend.
The 2013 Schug Sonoma Valley Merlot is deep in color with a hint of garnet. The nose shows cherry, plum, and blackberry aromas, accompanied by a hint of briar and spice. The palate is focused, with red and black fruit. Plenty of acidity carries through on the finish, where a subtle chocolate flavor is framed by a touch of new oak. Ideal food wine, perfect for grilled lamb or milder sausage. At under $25 a bottle, this is the perfect red wine to stock up on, as it will pair with a range of foods and has the elegance to drink well during the warmer months.
Appellation: Sonoma Valley
Blend: 79% Merlot; 10% Petit Verdot; 7% Malbec; 3% Cabernet Sauvignon; 1% Cabernet Franc
Vineyards: 73% Sangiacomo El Novillero; 17% Pickberry; 8% Rancho Salina; 2% Magnolia Farms
Harvest Dates: September 5th through October 10th, 2013
Sugar at Harvest: 24.4 degrees Brix average
Fermentation: 12 days in stainless steel tanks, punched down 2-4 times daily
Aging Cooperage: Aged 24 months in 20% new oak barrels: Hungarian and American oak barrels
Alcohol: 13.8% by volume
Acidity: 0.68 g/100ml; pH = 3.30
Release Date: January 1st, 2017
Founded in 1980, Schug Carneros Estate Winery is the showcase and life-long dream of one of California's most celebrated winemakers. Walter Schug's reputation blossomed during his tenure as Founding Winemaker for Joseph Phelps Vineyards in the 1970s, where he made California’s first proprietary Bordeaux-Style blend (Insignia) and legendary vineyard designated Cabernets (Backus and Eisele Vineyards).
Drawing on his long experience in the production of fine wines in both Europe and California, Walter set up his own winery with his wife Gertrud in the cool, marine climate of the Carneros Appellation. Here he could focus on the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varietals that had always been close to his heart.
Learn more at www.schugwinery.com.