Selene Merlot Vertical Tasting

On Saturday, July 5th, 2008 we did a vertical tasting of all the Merlots that Mia has made under the Selene label. Well, almost all of the Merlots… but more on that later.

First, I should introduce myself. My name is Tracy Hall, aka Skippy, and I do everything at Selene other than make the wine (Mia needs something to do!). That includes compliance, distribution, accounts payable and receivable, mailing list offers, events, travel, taste testing, etc. Pretty much everything!

Last year I got Mia a digital voice recorder so she could talk into it and I would transcribe it for the blog, which sounds like a lot of work, but it was easier than tying her to a chair to write an entry! Winemakers like to be outside, in the vineyard or at the winery, anywhere but behind a desk.

Anyway, I’ll be posting some entries this harvest to add another perspective to the blog. Now, back to the Merlot Tasting.

I’ve wanted to do this tasting for a long time. The first Merlot that Mia made was in 1991, and I felt that it would show well in the lineup. It’s always been a favorite of mine.

Mia’s library has some holes in it, because she says (while shrugging) “I didn’t make much”, (while smiling) “It sold really fast”, (with furrowed brows) “Perceived bad vintage”. We were missing the 1992 Napa Valley, the 1995 Hyde Vineyards, 1996 Hyde Vineyards, 1997 Hyde Vineyards and 1995 Toth Family Vineyard. So here was the lineup (750ml bottles):

1991 Merlot Napa Valley (100% Merlot – Madrona Ranch)
1993 Merlot Napa Valley (from Magnum) (100% Merlot – Madrona Ranch)
1994 Merlot Napa Valley (100% Merlot – Madrona Ranch)
1994 Merlot Toth Family Vineyard (100% Merlot)
1995 Merlot Napa Valley (100% Merlot – Madrona Ranch)

1996 Merlot Napa Valley (100% Merlot – Madrona Ranch)
1997 Merlot Napa Valley (100% Merlot – Madrona Ranch)
1998 Merlot Napa Valley (100% Merlot – 48% Madrona Ranch, 16% Hyde Vineyards, 12% Frediani Vineyard, 12% Blackbird Vineyard)
1999 Merlot Napa Valley (100% Merlot – 85% Madrona Ranch, 15% Frediani Vineyard)
1999 Merlot Blackbird Vineyard (100% Merlot)

2000 Merlot Napa Valley (100% Merlot – 75% Madrona Ranch, 25% Frediani Vineyard)
2001 Merlot Napa Valley (91% Merlot – 71% Blackbird, 20% Frediani, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon – Stagecoach Vineyard)
2002 Merlot Napa Valley (85% Merlot – 55% Blackbird, 30% Frediani, 15% Cab Franc – Frediani Vineyard)
2005 Merlot Frediani Vineyard (83% Merlot – 17% Cab Franc – Frediani Vineyards)
2006 Merlot Frediani Vineyard (100% Merlot – Frediani Vineyard)

We kept the tasting invitees to a few friends and a few people in the trade who have been around since the beginning of Selene. Mia and I felt the tasting was a success, and there were some surprises as well.

Everyone really liked the 1991, while it’s just past it’s peak (Mia thinks it showed better two years ago and is on it’s decline now) it has a lot left and will be great for a couple more years.

Another group favorite was the 1998 (Perceived bad vintage). This was really balanced and juicy.

The 1993 was really good out of Magnum. The 1995 and 1997 are coming around. When we tasted them on previous occasions they were tight and closed.

The 1994 Toth was showing way more than the 1994 Napa Valley, which seems like it’s fading.

Another surprise for Mia and myself was the 2001, which was bottled with a Noma cork (two piece synthetic). The wine is showing well and was another favorite at this tasting.

Interesting to note: We opened at least two bottles of each wine, three bottles if it was a group favorite, and not ONE bottle was corked. Not one was off, or dead because of a cork. All the wines showed well and everyone had a great time! – Skippy