Rene Schatter

When a wine blogger receives an invitation to taste through a retrospective tasting of eight vintages of Merryvale Profile with Rene Schatter, the proprietor of Merryvale Vineyards, you RSVP as quickly as you can, accept with vigor and show up at the appointed time.  Several folks who have parents who taught them that a RSVP is a commitment joined me.  I wish that I could say for the 20 people who accepted, yet did not show.  Shame on you, people.

We celebrated more than 30 years of production of Merryvale Vineyard’s proprietary red blend, Profile, and were the first to try the new 2012 vintage.  Cru Wine Bar rolled out the red carpet for the group with signature pizzas, cheese and charcuterie.  The tour happened in three markets – Los Angeles, New York and Dallas. 

Rene was a gracious and knowledgeable host and we learned about Merryvale’s 30-year evolution since 1983, when the Merryvale Profile wine was first created.  The wine has a storied history – three winemakers, seven vineyards (Amizetta, Beckstoffer, Slawson, Stagecoach, Thorevilos, Napanook and its Schlatter Family Estate site), new packaging (the wine has always featured profile shots on the labels) and the notable Old World Bordeaux vs New World California style changes.

We tried wines ranging from 1996 to 2012, which is exclusively made of estate fruit from the Schlatter Family Estate vineyard.  Here are my tasting notes:

1996: I tasted notes of blackberry, earthiness, cigar box, tobacco, menthol and mocha.

1998: Lot of red earth, blackberry, spearmint, herbs, plum, mint and red earth.  This wine was more elegant.

1999: This was the first estate fruit for Merryvale.  I tasted notes of blackberry, cassis and it was much more fruit forward in style.

2000: This had more herbs than fruit with lots of eucalyptus, leather, sandalwood, cranberry and chocolate.

2004: Notes of blackberry, raspberry, cassis and chocolate.

2006: Great fruit, tannins, a nose of butterscotch and was a definite favorite.

2009: Blackberry, red fruit, vanilla, Twizzler candy and Asian spice notes.

2012: The most recent debut was my favorite.  I tasted cherry, blackberry, chocolate and mocha.  This wine is going to be amazing with time.

Rene’s parting words to us is that we want to continue to “preserve what Mother Nature gives us in our wines.”  Based on what I tasted and the diversity of these wines, that 30 year philosophy is one that is being taken seriously.