It's been a while since we've wooted. This offering is a three-pack of our current offerings, the 04 Sorelle Per Sempre, 05 Claret and 04 Merlot.
For Merlot-haters, just calm down. When Merlot is grown in growing regions that are suitable for the variety, it expresses itself and can be quiet nice. Merlot cannot tolerat heat like Cabs, Syrahs, Petite Sirahs, Zins, etc. In fact, Merlot can grow really well from Pinot Noir country (see some great Carneros Merlots). When done, right, Merlot has great color, dark fruit, interesting spice and earth notes and lots of other highlights that a winemaker can really accentuate. The Merlot is the backbone of the Claret and Sorrelle and in the case of the 04 Merlot, there is a good dose of Cab Sauv in there to give it another gear.
To answer a question on Claret, the term is not protected by trademark or copyright. However, the TTB has determined that it will not allow any new domestically producted Clarets. Since our winery is grandfathered in, we're allowed to produce one.
Our first vintage of Claret and Meritage was the 03 wines. Since many folks were wondering why make two, we ditched the Meritage, as Mr. Armstrong mentioned, and went with a family name - Ezio. Afterall, a family winery has the duty to stick with the family. Meritage is kind of soul-less. The 03 and 04 Mertiage are library selections at the winery.
Allow me to get back to the Claret and the spirit of this wine. Back in 03, we had assembled the top blends and had some barrels that were deemed too fruit forward to really make up the top-tier wines. We blended what was left and made a really friendly wine and Dan Kleck, our winemaker, decided we should call it Claret and it stuck. We sold about 700 cases of that wine for around $17, depending on where you live and it was a hit. 2004 rolled around and it was a difficult year in the vineyard. To get the elements of physcical maturity in our sweet-spot, we dropped a lot of crop. The top wines were reduced in case volume, but the nature of the fruit allowed us to make more of the 04 Claret than we did in 03. We made a whopping 1200 cases and it sold out in a blink of an eye. This brings me to the 05 Claret. For the first time, we did not use a culling-out process to blend the Claret. Rather, we designed it from the beginning, selecting designate blocks and barrels that focused on the ripe, forward fruit and medium weight so the wine would be ready to consume younger, rather than have to bottle age it for 6-12 months like some of our other wines. With the good luck of a healthy crop and the wine's popularity, we've made our biggest single lot ever at 3500 cases. It's 35% of what we make in one single bottling.
The 04 Sorelle Per Sempre (SPS) really represents what our 03 and 04 Claret used to be: a bordeaux variety blend aimed at the fruity yet elegant flavors and a frienlier price tag.
All of our reds are unfined and unfiltered. They're all pretty small-batch. From my experience with them over the 3 years we've been around, they all evolve and change quiet a bit with age. I have even seen some "dumb" stage with wines that needed more bottle age like the 03 Cab did.
I have to run off to an inventory count. I will be back later to answer questions and write a little about the vineyard, where I am today.
Thanks for having us back