Maker: Estancia Winery, Soledad, California
Variety: Meritage – blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (61%), Merlot (30%), Petit Verdot (9%)
Packaging: 750 ml Bottle, natural cork
Our Rating: 9 out of 10
Estancia Paso Robles Meritage 2004 is an interesting and tasty wine. First, a bit about the label. “Meritage” isn’t a varietal. Rather, it’ a controlled designation originally intended as California’s answer to Bordeaux. Meritage is actually a trademark that can be used only by members of the Meritage Association and put only on wines meeting specific criteria. The wine must be a blend of at least two grapes from a list that includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and others. In addition, the association expects that wineries will use the label only on their finest blend, and will limit the production of that blend.
Our impression of the Estancia Meritage is that the winery has indeed followed the guidance of the Meritage Association and used the label on a blend they consider superior. This is a big wine that seems almost like a Zin with its powerful nose, big flavor, and relatively high alcohol content. This wine’s aroma is full of cherries, spice, and oak. On the palate, it starts with more cherries, blackberries, and a hint of mocha, leading into a lengthy finish that’s a balance of tannins, oak, and mild pepper. This is exactly the kind of red wine that we’re partial to, and pouring the last glass from the bottle was a sad moment. Pair this with beef or other strongly flavored entrees that need a red wine that can hold its own.
Hunting around wine blogs for commentary, we found that The Wino Club awarded Estancia Paso Robles Meritage 2004 a “double gold” when they tasted nine different Meritages.
Overall, this Meritage is a red wine worth trying. Our bottle came as a gift at our annual Christmas party – a thoughtful gift indeed!