A Good Food Wine Celebrates an Anniversary: Murrieta’s Well Anniversary Blend

murrietaSo there was this horse thief — or Mexican entrepreneur, depending on which history book you read. His name was Joaquin Murrieta, and while Joaquin was “gathering” wild horses in the Livermore Valley, he’d stop to water his herd at an artesian well bubbling up through the valley floor.

That’s the lineage of Murrieta’s Well Winery, which dates well back into the 19th century and the early days of both California and its wine industry.¬†Today, it’s owned by Wente Vineyards, another century-old, family-owned winery. In fact, it was Philip Wente and Sergio Traverso who bought the out-of-use winery 20 years ago, and have now created¬†Murietta’s Well Anniversary Blend 2008.

I’ve written about other good wines from this winery (Great Format, Great Wines…), but this one is part of their Small Lot series made for tasting room and Wine Club use. With only 200 cases produced, I was pleased to be able to taste the Anniversary Blend in our recent Twitter Tasting.

The blend is one we don’t see often: Cabernet Sauvignon (63%) and Tempranillo (37%). You may know that Tempranillo hails from Spain, where it’s used to create long-lived wines with bright cherry fruit and good acid. The Murietta’s Well Cabernet is grown in a vineyard first planted in 1884, which sits in a micro-climate similar to Bordeaux, France. That led me to expect a well-structured, elegant style.

So what happens to these two champion varietals when they meet in this blend?

In the nose, the Cab led the way with a blast of black currant fruit, and then the Tempranillo kicked in. I was suddenly getting lots of jammy plum and raisin, with a hint of spice.anniversary

The palate showed this wine’s Spanish side. There was a good burst of acid to tame down the very ripe fruit, but now caramel or toffee chimed in. Vanilla from French and American oak came through on the end, with relatively soft tannins.

I was tasting a little too much raisin and toffee for my palate, until I tucked into my dinner, which involved pasta, pesto, fresh tomato and chicken. The Anniversary Blend hooked up beautifully with the food. Like a true European “food wine,” the fruit blended with the pesto and tomato, and the acid in the wine set off the flavors in the food. The wine’s balance and structure were very nicely revealed.

If you can get your hands on a bottle, try Murrieta’s Well Anniversary Blend with a plate of Mediterranean-inspired food. You can create a very nice celebration of your own. Cheers!

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