Friday, April 15, 2011

Spirit of Wine Review & Rating: ***+ $$ Trinchero Chicken Ranch Vineyard Merlot, Rutherford, Napa Valley, CA, 2005 (GOOD VALUE)

Original Wine Review, by way of background... first tasted September, 2009: Trinchero Chicken Ranch Vineyard Merlot, 2005, hails from the Rutherford area of Napa Valley, CA. The 28-acre Chicken Ranch Vineyard is located on the northern portion of the Rutherford appellation. The 2005 vintage in the area was cool overall, with higher heat coming at the tail end of the season, causing a rapid harvest. This merlot includes almost 15% cabernet sauvignon, and finished at 13.8% alcohol. Aging was in a combination of French, American and Hungarian oak.

In the glass, Trinchero Chicken Ranch Vineyard Merlot shows as deep burgundy red, still with some purple highlights.

On the nose, at room temperature, there is an odd stampede of aromas... while swirling, you think you pick up a clean, classic fruit; then when you dig in, you first get a slightly old gym-sneakers sense, accompanied by sour plum and raw broccoli. Makes you sort of think someone should pay you to give it a try! But, hey, that's what I'm here for, right? Likely, some of the worst funk will blow off even with a modest decant.

And on the palate: So, powering on, I take a sip... ahh, now there's some legitimate fruit on the sip - not round or big, but present. The broccoli is still there, but in the background. Nice deep tannins and a buoyant acid. On the following sip, sweet raspberries explode around your palate, touch of leather, moving to a clean, satisfying finish.

Overall, three stars on the Spirit of Wine scale with a plus because I do like leather.
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Updated review, a year and a half later, now six years from vintage date:  Purple highlights have faded from the color, but it remains a deep mahogany.  Decanted briefly and poured cool, any nasty funk has receded and this has become an intriguing blend of old and new world aromas: some clean laundry, some broccoli and vegetable salad, some light leather and cherries.  The palate brings the laundry freshness to surround the balanced fruit, tannins and acids in the mid-palate.  The raspberry finish is still there, with well-tamed acids framing a clean wrap up.  Class act overall.  This retains its rating, and it has held the extra age very well.  

Following long decant, two days kept cool in partially filled bottle:  Deep fruit on the nose now, with just a hint of leather and old worldiness.  Balanced and slightly sleek on the palate, with rich raspberry wrapped in a light leather vest.  A light- to mid-weight merlot that now just manages to fall just a touch shy of four stars, still making it a good value.

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