I am going to write about the third bottle of wine from the September shipment from “A Taste of Monterey.” This was our first wine club that we ever joined and it has to be around eighteen years from that first day when we entered into their shop and tasting room. So that means roughly two-hundred-sixteen bottles of wine have been delivered to us, and it was very exciting for us to find out that they were legally able to ship the wines to us in Michigan, because at that time Michigan was considered a felony state and one of the past governors was sued in a legendary court case for wine drinkers and she lost, which benefitted all wine drinkers in the state. So, we have been enjoying the wines from Monterey County for some time, and it was all by accident, because we were having lunch at the famed Sardine Factory in the Cannery Row district in the city of Monterey. We also bought a major piece of art that is featured in our living room, front and center; so that trip was rather monumental for us, in many ways.
Monterey County is a relative newcomer according the AVA as it was only awarded status in 1984. It is a long and narrow region that follows the Salinas River, and the area was immortalized in the writings of John Steinbeck long before wine was a genuine crop for the area. De Tierra Vineyards began in 1998 as an organic grape growing operation by Tom Russel, an agriculture professional from Phoenix, Arizona. He had transitioned his crops from conventional vegetable operations to organic farming in the 1990’s. He was very successful and tried his approach to winemaking in the Salinas Valley and he teamed up with Lucio Gomiero of Italy and they developed a forty-acre farm and De Tierra Vineyards was established. The vineyard is now owned by Dan McDonnal and Alix Lynn Bosch and they strive to maintain the name which translates to “of the land.” They grow eight varietals and they also make three different blends, but some of the fruit is sourced beyond the estate. They maintain a tasting room in Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Over the years we have received many different wines from this winery and we are looking forward to opening the De Tierra Vineyards Russell Estate Merlot Monterey 2017. Maybe I am more excited of the two of us, because I have always had a love for Merlot, since my days as a student, because the Merlot based wines of the Bordeaux region were more affordable for the most part compared to the Cabernet Sauvignon based wines, they were also more delicate if that is word that I will use, but back in the day, because the wines were softer, they were referred to as the feminine wines of the region. Even after that movie Sideways, I still was a strong defender of Merlot, right, wrong or indifferent. The Russell Estate Vineyard is located deep in the Corral de Tierra at the foot of Mount Toro, between the Santa Lucia Highlands and the Carmel Valley in Monterey County; “the pastures of heaven” penned by Steinbeck. There are five varietals grown on the estate and they are one hundred percent organic and sustainable practices in the farming and husbandry of the land. The vineyard is run entirely on solar energy and hand farming practices are used whenever practical and possible. There was no information on the fermentation of the wine, but there were tasting notes. “Bright aromas of pomegranate, raspberry and orange rind meet with lively pinches of wild, dewy herbs and the hint of green peppercorns on the nose of this bottling. The palate offers ripe cherry alongside the snappier cranberry flavors, with herbs and strong acidity throughout.” There suggested aging potential is six to eight years. I am never sure when I may get a strong desire to try a new Merlot, but it does seem to go in cycles and I will write about it, and I am sure that I won’t use their descriptors, but it works for them.