For those of you that read my blog you know how much I enjoy Grgich Hills for who they are, where they came from and the wine making philosophy they stand for. I got my first taste of what Grgich was all about not through a bottle of wine but by listening to a Graperadio podcast. The two part (Part 1 and Part 2) series introduced us to Miljenko “Mike” Grgich and how he first gained international notoriety after his Chateau Montelena Chardonnay won the 1976 Paris tasting. After learning about how Mike came of age as a great winemaker in Napa Valley I learned of his quest to keep on top of the best vineyard practices, ones that are good for the wine as well as the land. Being intrigued, I went out and got the book “Judgement of Paris” by George Taber and learned more about Mike Grgich as well the history of how Napa Valley came to be the wine mecca it is today.

I wrote a little while ago about the 2001 Grgich Cabernet Sauvignon that I was slightly disappointed with, mostly because of my preconceived notions of how I thought it should be and how I remembered it was from my visit to their tasting room in 2004.

Recently I pulled another Grgich out of the Cellar, this time it was the 2002 Merlot, about the same price point as the Cabernet, around $50. This was what I remembered about Grgich wine, a truly fabulous expression of the grape from start to finish.

My Tasting Notes

Color – Very dark ruby red

Nose – Cedar, pine, cherry, pomegranate, black tea, vanilla, corn husk

Taste – Black cherry, blueberry, blackberry, cardamom, cinnamon, under ripe green grapes

Mouthfeel – Full body, spicy yet soft and polished across the tongue

Finish – LONG, with the tannins leave a nice fuzzy feeling in the mouth

This was a big, complex, layered Merlot that shows the best of what California Merlot has to offer. Definitely on the New World end of the spectrum but not over the top displaying lots of great earth flavors layered with the fruit and spice. I would definitely recommend this wine if you are looking for a “BIG” full bodied Merlot. This is up there with the Northstar Merlot I had a few months ago from Washington State, but the Grgich offered more spice and a more tannic finish.


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Categories: grgich, merlot, napa, wine review | 3 Comments

A Slight Disappointment

Christmas day was spent at my parent’s house, and was a fun day of present opening and over eating. Even though my parents bought plenty of wine, and told me not to bring any, you know I couldn’t show up empty handed. So we took over some Pedroncelli Chardonnay and a bottle of the 2001 Grgich Hills Cab that has been in the cellar since our first trip to Napa 3 years ago that we had really been wanting to drink. We stuck to reds all day so the Chardonnay didn’t get opened, but we did open the Grgich for dinner.

Grgich was the first winery that we visited our first day in Napa, and we were thrilled with the experience and psyched about the wines that we tasted and thus bought a few while we were there. My prior enjoyment with the Grgich winery and all of their wines, my appreciation for all that Mike Grigich has done and a price tag of $55 could have helped in my disappointment (although it small) in this wine.

I didn’t take any notes for the wine, so this isn’t going to be as formal a review as I have done in the past. The Grgich cab was unfortunately pretty one dimensional, with a lot of dark fruit aromas and flavors on the nose and palette. It did have a really nice weight in the mouth, and was really silky smooth but too smooth. The tannins were non existent and thus the wine didn’t have much of a back bone.

I think the frame of reference of a 55 dollar price tag contributed the most to my disappointment, as if this was a $15 Cab I don’t think I would have critiqued it so hard. But also, I really have had a lot of good wines from Grgich in the past so this won’t deter me from buying more $55 wines from them in the future.

If you are in Napa or planning a visit, I recommend you take a trip to the Grigich tasting room and sample what they have to offer, I don’t think you will be disappointed. Make sure to keep a look out for Mike Grgich himself, sporting his black beret, he would be happy to chat with you as he was with Megan and I.

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Categories: cabernet, grgich, wine review | 3 Comments