Nestled in the Livermore Valley (southeast of Oakland and northeast of San Jose), Murrieta’s Well has been around for some time, and it’s clear from these bottlings that they have been working on upping their game. Sourced from sustainably-farmed estate vineyards that have been online for 130 years, these wines show more than heritage - a competent hand in the cellar. As winemaker Robbie Meyer said of his approach during virtual tasting recently, "Improve, improve, improve."
Sometimes reviewing wine samples is not that much fun. Like any other product, there is a lot of mediocre wine out there and finding something nice to say about some of the stuff that hits my doorstep can be a real struggle. Not so here. These were fun to drink and examine. Savvy drinkers will be rewarded by seeking these out.
2016 Murrieta's Well White Blend 'The Whip' Livermore Valley $26
A lot of players contributing to this bright, taut white blend. Sauvignon blanc provides energy and brilliance, while semillon adds delineation, shape, and acidity. Chardonnay (seemingly an oddball in this blend) amplifies the body, and two other spice rack grapes - orange muscat and viognier - add floral sophistication and subtle fruit character. Complex and evolving as you drink it, yet refreshing and easy to like. Will please casual quaffers and wine nerds alike.
2017 Murrieta's Well Dry Rose Livermore Valley $30
Made from a curious blend of Rhone varieties - grenache, counoise, and mourvèdre - this clean, spirited refresher packs seriously energetic acidity and finishes dry and clean. Straightforward in a good way.
2016 Murrieta's Well Merlot Livermore Valley 'Small Lot' $46
Deep, elegant opacity in the glass. Gregarious aromas with prominent black fruit and toasted cedar spice. Impossibly seamless texture despite fine grained tannins. Terrifically balanced. Marvelous structure supporting big, sophisticated fruit bracketed by tense vigor. Anyone who thinks merlot is less serious or capable than Cabernet needs to sit down with a bottle of this. Delicious and expensive tasting.
2016 Murrieta's Well Red Blend Livermore Valley 'The Spur' $35
A classic Bordeaux blend, this dense, rich wine is framed in proud oak and cloaked in velvet. Each grape brings its A game to the table. Appealing as it is in its youth, there's a promise that this claret will blossom in a year or few as adolescence emerges into grace. In the meantime, enjoy this rich fox with any-damn-thing you like.