Murrieta’s Well has come across my radar a few times in recent months – the first time was because the Winemaker, Robbie Meyer, was a guest on one of my favorite podcasts (listen here). Not long after that, I attended a Wente Tasting at a local wine bar that included a couple of Murrieta’s Well selections. And then, just last month, I was contacted by Snooth and asked if I’d like to participate in a “virtual tasting” with Robbie Meyer and 43 other wine writers. To say I was over the moon about this invitation would be an understatement.
Murrieta’s Well is owned by the Wente family and has a long and storied history in the Livermore Valley AVA.
Prior to becoming a vineyard, the land was owned by a man named Joaquin Murrieta, who was somewhat of an outlaw and known as the Robin Hood of the West during the Gold Rush. It is said that Mr. Murrieta chose this property because the well on the property provided quality water for his horses and his men, thus the current name of the winery.
In 1884, Louis Mel bought the property and planted the first vines on the estate with vine cuttings from the esteemed Bordeaux properties of Chateau d’Yquem and Chateau Margeaux. I don’t know about you, but that is the sort of stuff I just love — the history and the stories. He built a gravity flow winery on the property which today is the tasting room.
We tasted through 5 wines as at this virtual event, which included a live video chat with Winemaker, Robbie Meyer, and Snooth co-founder, Mark Angelillo, along with 44 wine writers contributing via written chat.
The focus at Murrieta’s Well is on farming. Robbie believes that great wine is made in the vineyard, and as such is intricately involved in the growing process. All of the grapes used for Murrieta’s Well wines are grown on the estate, and while you will find Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, you will also find some very interesting varietals not often seen, such as Orange Muscat, Muscat Cannelli, Counoise, and Souzao. All of the grapes are hand harvested and vintified with minimal manipulation, and the results are truly outstanding.
Let’s take a look at each one.
Sauvignon Blanc, 2017, $35
Barrel fermented and aged on the lees for 4 months with minimal stirring. with Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes for this wine are grown on the original parcel of land purchased in the 1860’s with vines that are descendants of the Sauvignon Blanc cuttings from Chateau d’Yquem. It is a small lot, with only 30 barrels (approximately 750 cases) produced.
Notes of citrus, ruby red grapefruit and stone fruit with bright acidity that is incredibly well balanced. This wine has a depth and nuance not often seen in Sauvignon Blanc.
The Whip, 2016, $26
The wine is a blend of 33% Sauvignon Blanc, 24% Semillon, 21% Chardonnay, 12% Orange Muscat and 10% Viognier. All of these wines are made to be the best expression of each varietal they can be, harvested at different times and from different lots on the estate. Some are vintified in oak, some in stainless steel. Once blended, the wine is aged an additional 14 months in both barrel and tank.
So many good things going on here. The aromas on this wine are intoxicating. This wine has layers and is very interesting. It has a great mouth feel and a finish that lingers.
Dry Rosé, 2017, $30 (Sold Out on the website)
Ok, there is no getting around the fact that this is a high price point for a Rosé. That said, this wine was created by blending three individual wines that were vintified as a Rosé. This is the least common and most expensive production method for Rosé.
The blend is 42% Grenache, 39% Counoise and 19% Mourvedre. Each grape was cold fermented, and aged for about a month prior to blending. Once blended it was aged another 2 months in stainless steel. Only 2,001 cases were produced, hence the reason it is sold out. Look for the 2018 in February of next year.
I honestly believe if you are not usually a Rosé fan, this wine might be an exception. It is a medium bodied wine, which is not often the case with a Rosé. Aromas of strawberry and a floral note. Strawberry and melon flavors on the palate,
The Spur, 2015, $30
This wine makes me wax poetic. Literally I want to use descriptors like gorgeous and beautiful, which are both accurate, but I’ll try an be a little more helpful.
This red blend is my favorite of the 5 wines sampled. I have been on a white and Rosé kick for quite some time now, but this wine made me remember why I have spent most of my life loving only red wine.
The blend is 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Petit Sirah, 18% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot and 6% Cabernet Franc. Again, all fermented individually into the best expression of each varietal. Once blended the wine was aged for 24 months in a combination of new, 2nd and 3rd use barrels.
Flavors of black fruit and a hint of spice and vanilla (or is that chocolate?). The tannins are literally silky. Beautifully integrated.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, pre-release (2014 was $58, but is sold out on the website)
I once had what I refer to as Obsessive Cab Disorder – it’s literally all I drank. Lately though, I find it hard to be really impressed with most Cabernet Sauvignons, but this one knocked my socks off. Again, the thing that stands out the most is just how beautifully well balanced this wine is. Amazing black fruit flavors, dark chocolate and black olive notes.
It is pricey, but I think it drinks as well as, if not better than, a great number of other Cabernet Sauvignons at even higher price points. It is a splurge wine, but it is impressive and well worth it as I think it out punches its weight class.
It is 87% Cabernet Suavignon, 11% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec. The wine was aged for 18 months in a combination of new and 2nd and 3rd use French oak. This too is a small lot wine with only 27 barrels produced.
In full disclosure, all of these wines were sent to me free of charge, but I was truly impressed. It is ironic, I used to live in Contra Coasta County, not far from the Livermore Valley AVA. I went skydiving over these vines while I lived there, but I did not explore the wine region. Even though I now live on the opposite side of the country, Murrieta’s Well is a place I will definitely visit on my next trip to California.
If you’ve ever had these wines, please share your impressions.