Like any appreciative little sister, it was only natural that I wanted Emma to tell me everything that Gary said. (Positive adjectives only.) However the conversation switched to why we both were at the winery, Dave and Kim Pratt; they know how to throw a party, and we were there to celebrate their 12th anniversary with a vertical tasting of their Meritage lineage.
What is a Meritage?
A Meritage; a blend of red and white Bordeaux varietal grapes. Red grapes consist of the dominant and familiar Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot. White grapes include Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Sauvignon Vert which is not too commonly grown in California. Red Meritage wines must be made from at least two of the listed red grapes. In either red or white Meritage wines, no one variety can make up more than 90% of the blend.
The word "Meritage" is a blend of the words "merit" and "heritage," and often denotes a Bordeaux blend of grapes not grown on French soil. Wineries that produce Meritage blends cannot produce more than 25,000 cases of the blend and the wine must be considered a high end offering for the winery. http://www.wineintro.com/types/meritage.html
Dave definitely does Meritage well. Beginning with the 2001 vintage, my cousin and I were treated to a wine education like no other. For a wine that was nearly 12 years old, the 2001 revealed that wine can and often does get better with age. The tannins (These are what often cause bad reactions for the uninitiated) had softened a bit, but all of the dark rich characteristics of a fine Bordeaux were still present. If you are familiar with the intense flavors of mountain wine, this one would not disappoint. We both enjoyed the noticeable differences of each wine and agreed that the 2002 and the 2005 were our favorites. For good measure, we re-visited each, several times, just to be sure.
To accomodate everyone's palate, The Pratt's poured other wines from their colorfully named collection. (Kim designs the labels) "Short Bus Zinfandel" and "Rattler Red" are two of their easy to drink but very potent offerings. This is mountain wine; virgins need to tread with caution. Another favorite, the Cab-Shiraz blend. Done Aussie style, the wine consists of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon and 48% Syrah. Yummy!
Sauntering into the tasting room, a special blend of every vintage of the Meritage was offered for sale by the glass. Maybe because I WAS after all, Gary's sister, a taste appeared in my glass. "Boo yeah!" Now we are talking. What a treat. There are no words to describe this blend...except, awesome! I really wanted to ask Dave more about why he blended his entire lineage for the day. Well, it is his winery, and his wine. He can do whatever he desires. Instead, we agreed that the need to re-visit the food line was becoming too hard to resist. (I was not convinced as to why I gave up pork, seriously) Moving forward.
As we mingled with the other party revelers, it became clear as to why I prefer the small winery as compared to the larger commercial facilities. Dave is a techno-geek who could be described as the poster child for A.D.D. (Wait, that describes me!) He and his wife Kim began their journey into all things wine by visiting wineries, volunteering during crush and observing how other wineries did the deed. With extension courses taken at UC Davis, Dave turned his close observations into becoming 2007 wine grape grower of the year in El Dorado County. With Kim by his side and often on the tractor during harvest, they have created a winery and a lifestyle that personifies their love of life and passion for wine.
There are a few perks to being Gary's little sister, and meeting Dave and Kim Pratt is one of them. I have visited their winery twice so far and enjoy following them on Facebook. Located in Somerset, California, top of the hill, middle of nowhere, USA, the drive is worthy of a visit. Check out their events calendar often and pay them a visit. I'm sure if you convince them that you too are somehow related to Gary, they will treat you extra special. (If not, you drove all the way up there, have some fun!)
DK Cellars, you done good!
Until next time, Salute'.