martes, 26 de marzo de 2013

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Merlot, Carneros 2008


- Tasting Notes: "Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Merlot is a taste of chocolate and flavors of juicy cherries is followed by a hint of green olives". farehamwinecellar

- Winery: Jacuzzi Family Vineyards' story begins in America in 1907 when Valeriano and Francesco Jacuzzi, sons of Giovanni and Teresa Jacuzzi, immigrated to Washington to work on the railroad. Eventually they moved to the warmer climes of southern California to work in the aviation industry and were joined there by various other members of the family, including four more brothers, and their father Giovanni (a skilled wood worker and vineyard farmer). Valeriano started working with his brothers at their Jacuzzi Brothers factory. Valeriano moved his family to Northern California and purchased a 161-acre farm in Contra Costa County. During the depression, shortly after 1921, Valeriano decided to begin growing grapes and the the vineyard was planted to Zinfandel, Carignane and Mourvedre. In 1937, Valeriano returned to work with his brothers at Jacuzzi Brothers, Inc. located in Berkeley, CA where they manufactured water well pumps and eventually, the bath and spa that bears their name. The Jacuzzi Family Vineyards wine-making story properly begins with Fred Cline founding Cline Cellars near Oakley, California and, in 1991, the winery was relocated to the Carneros region of Sonoma, Calif. In 1994 the first Jacuzzi Family Vineyards wine was produced. This wine is almost entirely crafted from grapes grown at the Jacuzzi Estate Ranch located in the fog and wind-cooled southern Sonoma Carneros growing region. These vineyard blocks range from gentle slopes to flat land – with soils varying from deep, gravelly loams to shallow (less than 18 inches) clay and loam. Grapes are handpicked and de-stemmed without crushing. This gentle handling minimizes extraction of the bitter elements in the seeds and stems. Grapes are pumped to a stainless tank and inoculated with a pure strain of wine yeast. Fermentation temperature is controlled at a maximum of 85 degrees and the wine is pressed at dryness. Malolactic fermentation is completed in the primary fermenting tank. The wine is then racked and moved to barrels (approximately 30% new French and American oak) and aged for 18 months. Careful handling, from the vineyard through fermentation brings out the wine’s complex layers and silky tannins.

- Price: £18.10


Los Carneros AVA (also known as Carneros AVA) is an American Viticultural Area which includes parts of both Sonoma and Napa counties in California, U.S.A.. It is located north of San Pablo Bay. The proximity to the cool fog and breezes from the bay makes the climate in Los Carneros cooler and more moderate than the wine regions further north in Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley. The cooler climate has made Los Carneros attractive for the cultivation of cooler climate varietals like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Many of the grapes grown in Los Carneros are used for sparkling wine production. Receiving its AVA status in 1983, the Carneros area was the first wine region in California to be defined by its climate characteristics rather than political boundaries.

In 1942, wine producer Louis M. Martini purchased the old Stanly Ranch and began a replanting effort. By the 1970s, the Carneros region had more than 1,300 acres (530 ha) of vineyards. By this time the Carneros region was starting to develop a reputation for the quality of the Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that came from this cool-climate region. This reputation caught the eyes of sparkling wine producers from Champagne and elsewhere. In the 1970s and continuing to this day, Francis Mahoney of Mahoney Vineyards and Fleur de California in conjunction with UC-Davis have conducted an ongoing series of clonal trials to determine the best Pinot Noir grapes for the Carneros region. The 1980s saw a wave of investment and development in Los Carneros by producers such as Domaine Chandon, Domaine Carneros, Gloria Ferrer, Mumm Napa and Codorníu Napa that made Carneros one of the centers of California sparkling wine production. In the late 1980s, phylloxera returned to the Carneros region prompting extensive replanting efforts. In addition to taking advantage of better phylloxera-resistant rootstock, many Carneros producers also took the opportunity to plant some of the new French clones of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The surging popularity of Chardonnay in the 1980s further stimulated plantings in the Carneros region. By the early 1990s, the region had over 6,000 acres (2,400 ha) planted.

The Carneros region covers 90 square miles (230 km2) located along the low lying hills of the Mayacamas range as it descends underneath San Francisco Bay. Elevations of most vineyards range from 400 feet (120 m) in the foothills to near sea level closer to the bay. The official boundaries of the AVA fall into both Napa and Sonoma counties with the largest portion being in Sonoma and entitled to use the Sonoma Valley AVA designation as well. The Napa portion of Los Carneros is similarly entitled to use the Napa Valley AVA designation. The region is moderately cool and windy with marked influences from nearby San Pablo Bay, making it the coolest and windiest AVA in both Napa & Sonoma. Early morning fog is a persistent feature.

The soils of the Carneros region are predominately clay and very thin and shallow (approximately 3 feet/1 meter deep), providing poor drainage and fertility. The fierce and persistent winds coming off the bay encourages the grapevines to struggle and retain moisture. While this aids in keeping crop yields small, it can also delay the grapes from ripening sufficiently. In vintages with a long, drawn out growing season that allow the grapes to ripen, intense and vivid flavors can develop.

Los Carneros is primarily associated with the cool-climate wines such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as the sparkling wines made from those grapes. Many wineries in Napa & Sonoma use Carneros grapes as a cool-climate blending component. In recent years there has been interest in Merlot and Syrah coming from the warmer areas of the region. In 1996, the first possible plantings of Albarino in the United States were planted in the Carneros region.

Carneros Chardonnay is marked by its high acidity that can bring balance to the fatter, rounder Chardonnays produced in the warmer climate areas of Sonoma and Napa. It is usually put through malolactic fermentation and giving significant oak treatment to soften some of the acidity. Pinot Noir from the Carneros is known for its crisp acidity and tight structure and frequently exhibits spicy berry fruit. The Carneros region was one of the early pioneers of cool-climate Pinot Noirs in California-long before it became a significant planting in the Russian River, Anderson Valley, Santa Rita Hills and Santa Lucia Highlands AVAs. In recent years there has been a focus by Carneros Pinot Noir producers on the changing style of the region's Pinot due, in part, on emerging modern philosophies in winemaking and on clonal selections. The older clones found in Carneros include the Martini and Swan clones which produce wines that are lighter, more elegant with some earthy complexity. They are also noted for their distinctive aromas of green herbs, beets and mint. The newer French clones being planted, (such as the Dijon 115, 667 and 777) produce more alcoholic and concentrated wines with black fruit notes.


Merlot is a darkly blue-coloured wine grape, that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. The name Merlot is thought to derive from the Old French word for young blackbird, merlot, a diminutive of merle, the blackbird (Turdus merula), probably from the color of the grape. Merlot-based wines usually have medium body with hints of berry, plum, and currant. Its softness and "fleshiness", combined with its earlier ripening, makes Merlot a popular grape for blending with the sterner, later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, which tends to be higher in tannin.

Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, Merlot is one of the primary grapes in Bordeaux wine where it is the most widely planted grape. Merlot is also one of the most popular red wine varietals in many markets. This flexibility has helped to make it one of the world's most planted grape varieties. As of 2004, Merlot was estimated to be the third most grown variety at 260,000 hectares (640,000 acres) globally, with an increasing trend. This puts Merlot just behind Cabernet Sauvignon's 262,000 hectares (650,000 acres).

Researchers at University of California, Davis believe that Merlot is an offspring of Cabernet Franc and is a sibling of Carménère and Cabernet Sauvignon. The earliest recorded mention of Merlot was in the notes of a local Bordeaux official who in 1784 labeled wine made from the grape in the Libournais region as one of the area's best. The name comes from the Occitan word "merlot", which means "young blackbird" ("merle" is the French word for several kinds of thrushes, including blackbirds); the name was thought to have been given either because of the grape's beautiful dark-blue color, or the blackbirds' fondness for grapes. By the 19th century it was being regularly planted in the Médoc on the "Left Bank" of the Gironde. After a series of setbacks that includes a severe frost in 1956 and several vintages in the 1960s lost to rot, French authorities in Bordeaux banned new plantings of Merlot vines between 1970 and 1975.

It was first recorded in Italy around Venice under the synonym Bordò in 1855. The grape was introduced to the Swiss, from Bordeaux, sometime in the 19th century and was recorded in the Swiss canton of Ticino between 1905 and 1910. In the 1990s, Merlot saw an upswing of popularity in the United States. Red wine consumption, in general, increased in the US following the airing of the 60 Minutes report on the French Paradox and the potential health benefits of wine and, possibly, the chemical resveratrol. The popularity of Merlot stemmed in part from the relative ease in pronouncing the name of the wine as well as its softer, fruity profile that made it more approachable to some wine drinkers.

Merlot grapes are identified by their loose bunches of large berries. The color has less of a blue/black hue than Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and with a thinner skin and fewer tannins per unit volume. Also compared to Cabernet, Merlot grapes tend to have a higher sugar content and lower malic acid. Merlot thrives in cold soil, particularly ferrous clay. The vine tends to bud early which gives it some risk to cold frost and its thinner skin increases its susceptibility to Botrytis bunch rot. If bad weather occurs during flowering, the Merlot vine is prone to develop coulure. It normally ripens up to two weeks earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon. Water stress is important to the vine with it thriving in well drained soil more so than at base of a slope. Pruning is a major component to the quality of the wine that is produced. Wine consultant Michel Rolland is a major proponent of reducing the yields of Merlot grapes to improve quality. The age of the vine is also important, with older vines contributing character to the resulting wine.

A characteristic of the Merlot grape is the propensity to quickly overripen once it hits its initial ripeness level, sometimes in a matter of a few days. There are two schools of thought on the right time to harvest Merlot. The wine makers of Château Pétrus favor early picking to best maintain the wine's acidity and finesse as well as its potential for aging. Others, such as Rolland, favor late picking and the added fruit body that comes with a little bit of over-ripeness.

In food and wine pairings, the diversity of Merlot can lend itself to a wide array of matching options. Cabernet-like Merlots pair well with many of the same things that Cabernet Sauvignon would pair well with, such as grilled and charred meats. Softer, fruitier Merlots (particularly those with higher acidity from cooler climate regions like Washington State and Northeastern Italy) share many of the same food-pairing affinities with Pinot noir and go well with dishes like salmon, mushroom-based dishes and greens like chard and radicchio. Light-bodied Merlots can go well with shellfish like prawns or scallops, especially if wrapped in a protein-rich food such as bacon or prosciutto. Merlot tends not to go well with strong and blue-veined cheeses that can overwhelm the fruit flavors of the wine. The capsaicins of spicy foods can accentuate the perception of alcohol in Merlot and make it taste more tannic and bitter.

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