Stephen's Cellar & Vineyard

Stephen's Cellar

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Merry One

Merry One is a project that was begun in 2001, inspired by wines I made 30 or so years prior.  I used to name the previous wines Dry Sherry but these days, federal regulations prevent that.  Merry is merely a jovial name to use instead of Sherry.

I wanted to create an aperitif that was unique yet had the character of a fine Spanish Sherry and decided to kick it up several notches and use Chardonnay. Traditionally, California wines of this sort were made from varieties such as Palomino, Colombard, Chenin Blanc, Thompson and many more.  Starting with Chardonnay grapes from the nearby MacBride Vineyard, I fermented the juice in French and Hungarian barrels.  After one year, I fortified Merry with grape brandy.  The blend was then transferred to new, heavily charred,  American oak barrels.  Note that fine Merry (Sherry) requires many years of barrel aging to acquire the aroma, flavor and color of a fine aperitif.  Merry was in the same new barrels for 10 years until the first bottling in July 2011.

This beverage is rewarding as an aperitif, a compliment to Tapas and the like, or even as a cocktail. I love to cook using Merry as a marinade base for fowl, rabbit, pork or whatever.  I 'm sure you will enjoy it as much as I did making it.

Stephen Goldman, winemaker

2009 Pinot Noir
Estate Vineyard

The Estate hillside vineyard was planted in the spring of 2001, devoted entirely to Pinot Noir. It is planted with clones 777 and 115 on 1103 rootstock with a north to south row orientation and 5 feet by 10 spacing. It sits next to the winery at about 1,500 above the ocean and 6 miles inland. With a very cool climate and Gaviota sandstone soil, it’s wonderful for Pinot. Though a drip system is installed, it was only used to establish the young plants the first 2 years. It is now non-irrigated. Crop levels are kept to 5 to 8 pounds per plant. Organic and Biodynamic principles are used for cultural farming technique.

The grapes were harvested September 2 on a cool foggy morning. Upon arrival at the winery the grapes were chilled down with dry ice to about 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Most of the grapes were destemmed, with some whole clusters placed at the bottom of the fermenters. After 3 days of cold soaking the must was enoculated with Assmanhausen yeast. The must was manually punched down 2 to 4 times a day for 8 days, then gently pressed with 3 degrees brix sugar content with no more than 1.5 bar (about 22lbs. p.s.i.). The wine was directly transferred to 2 to 4 year old French oak barrels. After completion of the malo-lactic fermentation in the spring the wine was gently racked barrel-to-barrel via a nitrogen gas pressure device and sulfited. No handling except for barrel topping was used till the following spring. The barrels were once again racked and wine blended prior to bottling without filtration May 2008.

This fine Pinot expresses the York Mountain AVA terroir with its deep aromas of dark cherry, raspberry and earth, along with smooth rich complex flavors of toasty oak, dark berry pie and vanilla. This wine would be wonderful for any occasion, but my paring would be roasted duck with mashed sweet potatoes.

Stephen Goldman, winemaker

Sugar at Harvest 24.5 brix
Alcohol 14%
Finished pH 3.55
Total Acid .65g/L

2008 Chardonnay
MacBride Vineyard

2008 Pinot Noir
Stromsoe Vineyard

The Stromsoe Vineyard is located almost 2 miles west of Stephen’s Cellar in the Santa Lucia Mountains of the California south central coast about 4 miles from the ocean at an elevation of about 1,400 feet. The soil is very unique in as so far it has several volcanic rock out-croppinps amidst it’s setting. With that in mind the soil around is quite rich in various minerals and elements that help nurture the well-drained soil. It is laid out on an eastern slope with small blocks planted to clones: 05, 115, 667, 777 on rootstocks: 3309 and 1103P. The growing season average daytime temperatures reach highs in the mid 80’s with many foggy mornings. The U.C. Davis heat summation classification would be a region 1.

The grapes were harvested late September and early October. Blocks were picked separately based on ripeness with degrees brix, PH, total acid, seed and stem maturity, and flavor as the determining factors. Once the grapes were received at the winery, they were destemmed and transferred to open top fermentors with some whole clusters. After a couple days of cool soaking (60*F) Assmanhausen yeast was added. The must cap was punched down 2 to 4 times daily with temperatures reaching 85*F. Once the must fermented out to 3* brix, it was pressed in a Wilmas tank bladder press with pressures reaching 1.5 bar or about 22 pounds p.s.i. The wines were directly transferred to 2 to 4 year old French oak barrels. After completion of malo-lactic fermentation the wines were nitrogen gas pressure racked barrel-to-barrel and sulfited. The finished wine was bottled April 2008 with no prior finning or filtration.

This fine Pinot has the aroma of cherries and strawberries, rose petals, and a touch of toasty oak. It’s medium full-bodied flavors of dark berry pie, vanilla and earth make this wine wonderful for any occasion, but my favorite paring would be grilled leg of lamb with mashed sweet potatoes.

Stephen Goldman, winemaker

Sugar at Harvest 24 brix
Alcohol 14%
Finished pH 3.5
Total Acid .6g/L

2005 Claret
San Luis Obispo County

This fine blend of traditional Bordeaux varieties is made from 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 15% Petite Verdot grown by the Anderson Family. This vineyard is located about 15 miles east of Stephen’s Cellar in the Templeton Gap.

The Grapes were harvested from mid September through late October. The fruit was destemmed, and then transferred to open top fermenters via gravity and inoculated 3 days later with BDX yeast. After 7 to 9 days of initial fermentation with 2 to 4 manual daily punch downs of the cap, the must was gently pressed to juice and transferred directly to new, 2nd and 3rd use French and French-American hybrid barrels. The wines were racked 3 times prior to assembly and bottled unfined and unfiltered, the fall of 2009.

The rich aroma of dark berries, intermingled with toasty oak combine with a medium-full bodied complex flavors and smooth tannins make this beverage wonderful for any occasion. I do like this wine paired with a grilled steak and sweet potatoes.

Stephen Goldman, winemaker

Sugar at Harvest 24.5 brix
Alcohol 14.6%
Finished pH 3.6
Total Acid .57g/L

2004 T&S
San Luis Obispo County

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