Wine of the Week: Sweely Estate “1867” Meritage 2006
This wine has won high honors at the VA Governor’s Cup (reds) last February and also at the recent Monticello Cup competition. The 2006 vintage was a difficult one in Virginia; many of the reds seemed hard and closed after release, and are only now coming into their own. This is a good example.
(French) winemaker Frantz Ventre composed a classically (Right Bank) Bordeaux ratio for the blend; 75% merlot, 25% cabernet franc. The color is impressively dark. (note: I tasted the wine at the winery, then took an open bottle home to taste after it had “breathed” for awhile to bring it around).
The nose shows classic St. Emilion character; briarfruits, black cherry and cassis, with aromatic herbs like sage, basil and rosemary, but also a clean “earthy” character wtih hints of pencil lead.
On the palate, the wine is elegant and graceful in a Bordeaux style, while still having some depth and weight of fruit/oak integration. The texture is dense with solid cherry and briarfruit but the oak adds rich complexity without detracting from the freshness of the finish.
If you want to flummox your connoisseur friend by serving this instead of a Grand Cru St. Emilion of the same age, this is the one to do it with!! I recommend buying this wine now, but at least 2 bottles; one to enjoy when the weather turns cool in the fall, and the other to lay down for another 3-5 years.
(Note: it’s called “1867” because the old barn on the property was built then; the land grant heritage dates to 1726.)