Heller Vineyards Wine Tasting
On a recent trip down to Carmel-by-the-Sea we took a detour inland to the boutique-styled wine region by the name of Carmel Valley. Carmel Valley is about 11 miles to the South West of its coastal sister where nineteen or so wineries are attracted to its mild winters and very warm summers. At more than 1000 ft above sea level it sits pleasingly above the maritime fog that hugs the coast and the winds that often whip up a storm. I decided to pay a visit to a long-standing wine producer called Heller Estate Organic Vineyards and and conduct a Heller Vineyards wine tasting of their extensive range of winers for myself. For a map and a leaflet about Carmel Valley wine tasting rooms click over to my own creatives.
Heller’s very friendly tasting host Constance started me off with a fresh-tasting 2011 Chenin Blanc ($25) where lime and green apple took control of my senses as my first sip of the day. With some residual sweetness this particular wine would work well with some mild spicy foods such as Thai green chicken curry. The oak-in-abundance 2011 Chardonnay ($24) came next and I couldn’t get roast chicken out of head when Constance recommended this food pairing. With twelve months in oak and a good acidic grip to balance out the body, this Chardonnay makes a great catch-all drink if you could only choose one Heller wine. Moving on to the 2012 Merlot Rosé ($24) and sour cherry is main sensory description here both on the nose and the palate. Heller suggest a thanksgiving turkey for this wine but I could drink it very easily on its own. The fresh acidity could also work with a goats cheese and cranberry salad or even a vegetarian pasta with a tomato sauce dish. The 2011 Cachagua Cabernet sauvignon ($29) is actually a ‘Meritage’ blend of Cabernet (75%); Merlot (15%); Petite Sirah (2%); Cabernet Franc (1%); Petit Verdo (1%) and Malbec (1%).
The savory nose and palate gave it a meaty feel but with a dusting of chocolate and make a suitable match with a succulent steak. The 2011 Merlot ($42) was still quite tannic and robust with violets and stewed fruits but could match very well with a range of meaty dishes. The 2009 Pinot Noir ($47) was a typical pinot with vegetal aromas and raspberry on the palate and some good acidity. I could see this going well with a chicken roast or even a salmon if baked with a fuller flavor. The 2009 Petit Verdot ($50) had a wonderful, long length with plenty of complexity such as cassis, black cherry and cream. This great wine would taste great alongside any grilled red meats. Moving on to the 2009 Cabernet Franc ($55), the dusty earth nose and herbaceous finish would go very well with a very s-l-o-w cooked leg of lamb where the meat is falling off the bone and the fats are nicely congealed. I can taste it already! Ok, enough of that Cabernet Franc-lamb combo image and the next up was the 2010 Malbec ($45). Now I did think this particular wine lacked sufficient fruit to balance out the acidity going on. It could work well with acidity -balanced foods such as a slow cooked beef with feta casserole which I went through a phase of cooking way back when. The 2005 Estate Cabernet ($75) showed still very present tannins and acidity although the fruit had shifted more to blood and savory making it go very well with a slow cooked stew. Moving onto the sweeties, the 2009 late harvest Riesling was showing a slightly bitter orange peel on the palate but that didn’t stop me buying a bottle of this honeyed tint. Finally, the 2005 Merlot port was like mixing a cup of sweetened black coffee with syrupy-stewed damsons. This was good.
Many thanks once again to Constance for enlightening me about everything Heller and its sculptures. I hope that anyone heading out to the coast might find some time in their adventure to explore the boutique delights that Carmel Valley has to offer.
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