Philippe Melka and Agustin Huneeus, Sr. teamed to combine the traditions of old world winemaking, the advancements of new world technology, and small lots from Washington State's finest vineyards to craft this enticing red blend.
The 2013 growing season started with an early bud break followed by consistently dry, warm weather that lasted until rainfall moved across the Columbia Valley in mid-June. The precipitation allowed the vines to establish a solid canopy that proved useful when temperatures reached 100 degrees immediately following the rains. With a protective exterior canopy, we were able to open the interior canopy to allow uniform ripening in the fruit zone. As temperatures cooled in September, the extended hang time allowed grape flavors to fully mature.
Deep in color and complexity, this wine combines expressive red fruit aromas with dark chocolate and blueberry flavors accented by hints of oak spice that evolve across the palate. A juicy yet beautifully balanced wine with a rich mouthfeel and persistent finish.
93 POINTS - WINE ADVOCATE
This Cabernet-dominant wine, sourced primarily from Red Mountain for structure and richness, was blended with Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon planted at Sagemoor Vineyards in 1972. Weinbau Vineyard (Wahluke Slope) Merlot adds bright, red and black fruit intensity; Cabernet Franc from here adds vibrancy. Dionysus Vineyard’s Petit Verdot adds layers of complex aromas and flavors.
After two earlier appearances in Napa Valley, Philippe Melka returned in 1994. He swiftly rose to prominence and is now widely recognized as one of the leading craftsmen of his trade. Melka’s talents are the consequence of an ideal juxtaposition – the geologist’s feel for terroir, the traveler’s familiarity with far-flung wineries and estates, and a vintner’s passion to produce the very best.
Melka graduated from the University of Bordeaux, France, where he received a degree in geology in 1989. In his final year, he took a course in Terroir and Viticulture, and thereafter aspired to become a winemaker. After earning a second degree in Agronomy and Enology, he began to apply what he learned during stints at prestigious wineries in Australia, Italy, California and France (Petrus, Haut Brion and Dominus, among others).
Since his return to Napa Valley, Melka’s technical expertise has contributed to the production of several highly acclaimed wines from a number of elite estates, including Marston, Seavey, Constant, Lail, Bryant Family, Caldwell, Quintessa, Hundred Acre, and Vineyard 29.
Some of the most exciting wines crafted by Melka are from his own labels, Metisse & CJ. These meritage blends pay homage to Melka’s French influence (new oak aging, extended skin contact and gentle handling techniques) as portraitures of classic structure, balance and elegance.
Melka’s blends are also influenced by the effects of terroir on each harvested lot. Although subtly nuanced to most, they are prominent and critical to Melka the geologist. It is the creative touch of Melka the winemaker, by which his wines exude the complexities and full flavors that distinguish his talents from the rest.
Philippe Melka and his wife, Cherie, reside at Melka Cellars in Napa Valley. Cherie is an accomplished wine professional and laboratory manager at Silver Oak.
Agustin Huneeus, Sr. embarked upon his legendary career as a winemaker over four decades ago. He founded premier wineries both in California and Chile, and guided others to worldwide acclaim. He is perhaps best known for his artistry and innovative techniques resulting in critically acclaimed wines crafted in the Bordeaux tradition.
Wines and wineries achieving prominence under Agustin’s hand include Veramonte (Primus) and Concha y Toro of Chile, and Franciscan Oakville Estate, Mount Veeder, Estancia and Quintessa of California. He is considered a trail blazer with his Cuvee Sauvage, Napa Valley’s first wild-yeast fermented Chardonnay, and Magnificat, one of Napa Valley’s first Bordeaux style proprietary blends.
To most vintners, a wine is a Chardonnay, perhaps, or a Zinfandel, or a Merlot. To Agustin, a wine is the embodiment of a place. Its heritage, its terroir, - its ‘somewhereness’, in his words – matters most. Meritage wines, those artful blends that pay tribute to the winemaker rather than to the variety, exemplify the Huneeus principle of “attaching wine to a place.” Agustin’s famous Quintessa, a 100 point winner (1999), testifies to the wisdom of his philosophy of allowing the vineyard to express itself.
Agustin served as Chairman of the 1996 Napa Valley Wine Auction, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Wine Spectator Magazine that same year. He is the former president and current chairman of Franciscan Estates, a winery he brought from obscurity to world prominence. Along with his winery at Long Shadows Vintners, Agustin retains ownership in Veramonte and Quintessa. He resides at Quintessa Estates with his wife, Valeria, who holds a Ph.D., and is a scientist and viticulturist.