Beverage of the Week (BOW)
Pietra Santa Merlot Cienega Valley 2010
Pietra Santa's winemaker, Alessio Carli is understandably in love with grapes from his home but on my few visits to Pietra Santa I can always find Alessio going on about the quality of the Merlot grown at the estate. After one taste I had to agree, there is something special here. Each year the Merlot has been a consistent performer and I love to pour it for Merlot snobs and watch them swoon.
The name, Pietra Santa, translates to sacred stone. It was given by former owner Joseph Gimelli to honor his Italian heritage while aptly describing the mineral and limestone soils created by millenniums of churning rock by the San Andreas fault that lies below. Pietra Santa is not a place that you find accidentally, or perhaps, this is the only way that you will find it. It's nestled in the heart of the Cienega Valley in southern San Benito County, near the Monterey County border. As the crow flies, it's just about 25 miles east of the Monterey Bay that greatly influences the climate of this valley. It’s not easy to get to but it’s worth the trip as it's one of the most beautiful wineries I have ever visited. The Pietra Santa estate covers 120 acres planted to: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Merlot, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Dolcetto, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The oldest vines on the property were planted in 1905.
Beautiful deep ruby to garnet red color. The aromatics are complex and refined with black cherries and plum in the lead with accents of dry earth, mineral, cedar, bark and cigar box. The palate is true to the nose delivering a complex and subtle fruit attack with a generous dose of earth, forest floor, black pepper, and semi-tart cherries. Ideally proportioned with a generous dose of acid and moderate, dry tannins. This wine is all about the superb balance. There is plenty here to chew on but the charm is found in its multi layers.
How to Serve
Be sure to decant this wine for an hour to discover its full potential. It will certainly cellar well for a decade. Drink this beauty with a rich tomato sauce based dish, grilled meat, braised lamb, or aged Parmesan.
Price: $ 18