Lyeth Estate Meritage Sonoma County 2012

Very dark ruby color; red and black fruit on the nose; bing cherry, spice, blackberry, plum, hints of chocolate and pinch of earth on the palate;

nice balance between acidity (3.63 pH) and tannin, adroit use of oak makes for delicious, refined, savory blend with long, smooth finish. Chip Lyeth (pronounced “Leeth”) established the winery in 1981 as one of the first in California to pursue the complexity and depth possible through the marriage of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and the other traditional Bordeaux varieties.

Wines of this style, known as Meritage, have become some of the world’s most highly-rated wines with layers of flavors and balance of tannin and acidity. The word Meritage (pronounced like “heritage”) is a combination of the words merit and heritage. The name was a solution for dealing with U.S. label laws that required wineries to label blends that did not have 75% or more of a varietal “red wine,” thus implying lesser quality (the opposite of what is possible with skilled blending).

Lyeth was one of the founding members of the Meritage Association in 1988 and played an integral role in helping define this style of winemaking in the United States. The Boisset Family carries on the tradition today. This vintage of Lyeth Meritage effort tilts toward right-bank Bordeaux in style: 35% merlot, 32% cabernet sauvignon, 28% cabernet franc, 3% malbec, 2% petit verdot. Superb value-for-price, will play very well with food. $16-18
Lyeth website
Second photo: Wyeth vineyards
Lyeth Estate Meritage
Lyeth vineyards