We’ve encountered the wines of Murrieta’s Well a few times in the distant past, but this is the first time we’ve sat down with winemaker Robbie Meyer to walk through the whole collection. A little info on Murrieta’s:
Located seven miles east of the marine-influenced San Francisco Bay in Livermore Valley, Murrieta’s Well was established in 1884 and remains one of America’s original gravity-flow wineries. (The name Murrieta’s Well was inspired by Joaquin Murrieta, who first discovered the historic estate in the mid-1800s when he took his horses to the artesian well, which still flows on the property today.) The artesian well after which it’s named still stands on the historic 130 year-old winery building property where it abuts its recently (and beautifully) renovated tasting room. The estate’s gravelly soils were founded on cuttings from Château d’Yquem and Château Margaux, and today’s vines are all descendants from this prestigious lineage. Intentional blending of the 100% estate-grown grapes is at the heart of the winery, and remain’s Robbie’s particular and well-established talent.
Thoughts on all four wines tasted follow:
2016 Murrieta’s Well The Whip Livermore Valley – 33% sauvignon blanc, 24% semillon, 21% chardonnay, 12% orange muscat, and 10% viognier. Those last two grapes dominate the experience here, loading up citrus, peach, and floral notes. The finish is quite tart, heavy with lemon and notes of quince. Lots going on here — maybe too much — but it’s nothing if not expressive and complex. B+ / $26
2017 Murrieta’s Well Dry Rose Livermore Valley – 42% grenache, 39% counoise, and 19% mourvedre. An initial rush of strawberry and lychee notes fade into the essence of graham cracker crust, with notes of vanilla cake frosting, sweeter strawberry sauce, and just a hint of fresh mint. There’s just a hint of complexity here, but I leave the glass dreaming mostly of birthday cake. Not always a bad thing, I suppose. B / $30
2015 Murrieta’s Well The Spur Livermore Valley – 40% cabernet sauvignon, 20% petite sirah, 18% merlot, 8% petit verdot, and 6% cabernet franc. The cab utterly dominates here, with intense cassis countered by some notes of smoky bacon, freshly tilled earth, and graphite. The merlot-driven plum notes offer a fruity lift, but the petite sirah-driven density — fully evident in the wholly opaque, deep purple color of the wine — ultimately overtakes the experience with its mushroomy, leathery focus. B / $35
2016 Murrieta’s Well Small Lot Merlot Livermore Valley – 95% merlot, 5% cabernet sauvignon. Chocolate-heavy and with fragrant florals on the nose, this wine is simultaneously fresh and powerful, with an undercarriage of earth and dusky spices. The palate reveals a denser wine, one with a fairly gritty tannin profile and a coarseness on the tongue, those chocolate notes layering with leather and nutmeg to unveil a wine that drinks more like a cabernet at times. Soothing and silky on the finish, blackberries and blueberries pop on the back of the tongue as the wine fades into its lengthy, almost seductive finish. A- / $46