Archive for Lagrein

2007 Maloy O’Neill Vineyards Paso Robles Lagrein

Posted in California, Lagrein with tags , , on March 29, 2012 by thewinespies

Mission Codename: Scion of Teroldego

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Return to Wine Spies favorite, Maloy O’Neill, in Paso Robles. Abscond with an ample allotment of Shannon O’Neill’s 2007 Lagrein, a wine that is extremely popular among Maloy’s own wine club members

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Maloy O’Neill

Wine Subject: 2008 Hillside Zinfandel – Paso Robles

Winemaker: Shannon O’Neill

Backgrounder: Paso Robles has long been established as a wine producing region that give other California regions a run for their money. With a climate and soils that make for perfect growing conditions for grapes, it is no wonder. Winemakers in Paso are a somewhat unique breed, often declaring themselves to be the renegades of Cali wine. A meeting with Shannon O’Neill, winemaker and owner of Maloy O’Neill affirms this sentiment. A warm, excited and deeply passionate man, Shannon makes wines that reflect his personality. Join Agent Red as he visits Shannon – and returns with an ample cache of Shannon’s signature 2007 Lagrein – for our O’Neill-lovingOperatives.

Lagrein is a Northern Italian varietal that is known, in Europe, for producing wines that are often described asastringenthighly tannic and mineral laden. The grape, though only grown in very limited volumes, thrives in Paso Robles – especially under the care of Shannon O’Neill. Today’s wine enjoys better ripening, allowing the fruit to bring forth more flavor – while still maintaining a high acidity. The result is a delicious, food friendly wine with unique flavors. If you are looking for a very approachable wine that break out of the norm, you’ll love today’s Lagrein.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Perfect ruby red, with even coloration, from core to the very edge of the wine. The wine is perfectly clear which, for no good reason, took us by surprise. See below for more on this. After spinning the wine, tall legs fall very quickly from high up on the glass wall.

Smell – Mixed red berry fruit jumps from the glass. Aromas include Bing cherry, raspberry and cranberry. These sit atop spiced cherry candy (is there such a thing?), sweet cedar, dark chocolate, bramble bush and exotic mixed spice.

Feel – Smooth and round, and then almost immediately grippy, with a drying, crushed velvet feel that quickly spreads throughout the palate. This dryness spreads to the lips and cheeks, making you pucker as firm tannins and a distinct chewiness set in.

Taste – Black cherry, young strawberry and raspberry are the forbears of purple plum skin, tobacco, tart cherry, dried cranberry, leather and black pepper.

Finish – Ultra long, and filled with sweet, sour, dark fruit flavors that are eventually replaced by wild mushroom, leather and pepper.

Conclusion – Congratulations to Maloy O’Neill for today earning the distinction of being our most often-run winery! We could not have chosen a more exciting wine for today’s special offering. Today’s 2007 Maloy O’Neill Lagrein is extraordinarily popular among Maloy’s own wine club members. It is also one of Shannon O’Neill’s favorite wine to craft. His love for the unusual varietal shines through, as today’s wine is a delicious delight. Lagrein has a reputation for being a big, brash, brawler of a wine so we were surprised by the beauty and clarity of the wine, and also by its freshness of flavor. With a beautifully balanced acidity, this wine is an obvious companion to most meals. Pair the wine as you would a Merlot or even a Zinfandel. This unusual but completely accessible and approachable wine gets our big Wine Spies recommendation!

Mission Report:

WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER

SUBJECT: Shannon O’Neill

WINE EDUCATION: B.S. Fermentation Science, U.C.Davis

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: 1982-Present, Vice President, Vineyard Operations, O’Neill Vineyards, Paso Robles, CA; 1999-Present, President, Winemaker, Maloy O’Neill Vineyards, Paso Robles, CA; 2005- Present, Wine Production Consultant For Various Start Up Wineries on the Central Coast of California.

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Making great wine while developing one on one customer relationships.

WINEMAKER QUOTE: “I love making big, extracted, intense varietal character wines, and lots of them”

FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1999


WINEMAKER INTERVIEW

AGENT RED: Greetings, Shannon. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Lagrein today. Every time we feature your wines, our Operatives love them. You’ve become very popular among our covert wine lovers. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

SHANNON: It is fantastic to be with you, once again. Thanks for loving our wines as much as you do!

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

SHANNON: I think my horticulture class in the 5th grade, started my love for growing things. That developed into growing grapes when my family purchased 180 acres in Paso Robles in 1980. My sister convinced me to go to UCDavis because they needed winemakers for the new developing wine industry in the early 1980’s. She was in her 2nd year as a Viticulture major and I had just graduated high school and had plans to take over my father’s medical practice. My efforts to get into a premed university were daunting despite my great GPA and SATscores. My sister suggested I sign up for the Fermentation Science Program at Davis which was the exact same first two years curriculum as a premed Biology major consisting of basically, lots of math and science. She told after your second year, transferring to a pre-med school would be very easy at that point. She was right, because there were only 13 students that signed up that year, and I slid right in. The only thing she was wrong about was, once I found out how cool being a winemaker was, med school was out!

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

SHANNON: Making Cabernet Sauvignon is the Holy Grail of winemaking. Cabernet has always been the backbone of my winemaking style and the history of my wines. Thank god, O’Neill Vineyards has been a never ending supply of high quality fruit for this endeavor!

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

SHANNON: Making Cabernet Sauvignon is the Holy Grail of winemaking. Cabernet has always been the backbone of my winemaking style and the history of my wines. Our two estate vineyards has always been a source of high quality fruit for this endeavor!

RED: Who do you make wine for?

SHANNON: I am the winemaker for our two estate brands, Maloy O’Neill Vineyards and O’Neill Vineyards and have been a production consultant and have done custom crush work for many small startup wineries on the central coast.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

SHANNON: Of all the wines I make every year, the Lagrein might be my favorite. It is a very uncommon varietal that comes (originally) from the foothills of North Eastern Italy, the Alto Adige region. I believe there are less than 40 acres of Lagrien planted in California, and I’ve been making wines with it, both monovarietaly and blends, since 2002. The 2007 Lagrein is a dark, full-bodied version of this mountain grape.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

SHANNON: Lagrien, like most other Italian varietals is most definitely a food wine. The wines a perfect match for the food one would associate with the mountains of Alto Adige; stews, meats, sausage, root vegetables, lamb, venison etc…

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Paso Region so special?

SHANNON: Paso, because of its very cool nights is a most unique appellation. We get these incredible fluctuations between day and night, sometimes over 50 degrees. So the vines get plenty of heat (or degree days) yet the cool nights maintain the grapes acidity which you need to grow the most premium fruit. 2007 was an amazing vintage for us (as it was for many in California).

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

SHANNON: We just got done doing a major reorganization of the winery. The place looks beautiful, and now it’s time to get back and bottle up some of the great new wines we have coming down the pipe!

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

SHANNON: I make 36 different wines a year so I have a huge portfolio of many different styles and varietals to choose from. There is literally something for everyone. But if your one of those wine drinkers that like big, huge, extracted, intense varietal character reds, than you’re going to love my wines, because that is what I specialize in, and that is where my passion is! The Fremere is delicate dinner wine, that goes good with most foods, but I have many wines that are quaffing wines only, that can be served as the meal, so whatever style you like, go through the list on our website, and I promise you will find what you’re looking for!

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

SHANNON: I would just like to thank all of you for your unending support, and also the wine spies who do a wonderful job at picking wines that are unique and of interest to people who are looking for something more than what is available on the supermarket shelves. The Spies have consistently choose wines from all the different wineries they feature, that are worth checking out, and they also expose wineries who do not have worldwide distribution to and audience that might never get a chance to try new and exciting wines from small mom and pop wineries from many different regions! I welcome all of you to come to Paso Robles to see all the great things going on here, and if you do! Please visit us and say hello. For all of those who take me up on my offer, just mention you’re from the Spies and we will give you an extra discount on all wines and waive your tasting fees! Thank you again, and hope to see you soon!

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

SHANNON: Thank you and all your customers for your loyal support over the years and enjoy Maloy O’Neill wines.

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Maloy O’Neill Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.

2007 Maloy O’Neill Vineyards Enzo Super-Tuscan

Posted in California, Petit Verdot, Red Blend, Sangiovese with tags , , , , , , on September 14, 2011 by thewinespies

Mission Codename: The Major Leaguer

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Return to Maloy O’Neill, in Paso Robles, where Shannon O’Neill’s 2007 Enzo is now ready to enjoy. Procure as many cases as possible for our thirsty Operatives – who purchased their 2004 and 2005 Enzo in record numbers

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Maloy O’Neill

Wine Subject: 2007 Enzo

Winemaker: Shannon O’Neill

Backgrounder: Paso Robles has long been established as a wine producing region that give other California regions a run for their money. With a climate and soils that make for perfect growing conditions for grapes, it is no wonder. Winemakers in Paso are a somewhat unique breed, often declaring themselves to be the renegades of Cali wine. A meeting with Shannon O’Neill, winemaker and owner of Maloy O’Neill affirms this sentiment. A warm, excited and deeply passionate man, Shannon makes wines that reflect his personality. Join Agent Red as he visits Shannon – and returns with an allocation of his brilliant 2007 Enzo, a blend for our O’Neill-loving Operatives.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Darkest ruby hues, with even coloration from core to rim. On swirling, the wine settles quickly, leaving behind tall, tightly-spaced legs that move very slowly down the glass.

Smell – Lush and vibrant, with bold rush of ripe red cherry, blackberry, plum and blackberry mixed with notes of tobacco leaf, bramble, anise and soft sweetwood.

Feel – Bright and medium-bodied, this wine moves quickly across the palate and then settles in, giving the wine a grippy feeling. From the corners off the palate, a grippy dryness spreads inward, leading to a mouth-coating chewiness.

Taste – Bright and complex, with dark cherry, tobacco, smoky strawberry and blackberry that mingle with dusty bramble, star anise, sweetwoods, flint, black pepper and black cherry candy.

Finish – Ultra-long, with bold fruit flavors gradually yielding to earthen bramble, minerals and a hint of black pepper at the very end.

Conclusion – Thank you, Shannon O’Neill! You never disappoint us. Having shown two past vintages of this unique blend, we are thrilled to show the 2007 Enzo, a blend of 54% Sangiovese, 40% Lagrein and 6% Petit Verdot. A distinctly different blend then in previous years, the 2007 leads with bold, delicious, Paso Sangiovese. The Lagrien, which was the primary component of the 2005 vintage provides support and structure, along with flavors that are unique to the varietal. Rounded out by the Petit Verdot, this is a bold but well-balanced blend that we sipped and savored for an extended time, during our review. If you love bold Paso wines that are rife with flavor and character, then you will love today’s fine offering. Pair with zesty BBQ or a spicy bowl of beef chilli.

Mission Report:

WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER

SUBJECT: Shannon O’Neill

WINE EDUCATION: B.S. Fermentation Science, U.C.Davis

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: 1982-Present, Vice President, Vineyard Operations, O’Neill Vineyards, Paso Robles, CA; 1999-Present, President, Winemaker, Maloy O’Neill Vineyards, Paso Robles, CA; 2005- Present, Wine Production Consultant For Various Start Up Wineries on the Central Coast of California.

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Making great wine while developing one on one customer relationships.

WINEMAKER QUOTE: “I love making big, extracted, intense varietal character wines, and lots of them”

FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1999


WINEMAKER INTERVIEW

AGENT RED: Greetings, Shannon. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Enzo today. Every time we feature your wines, our Operatives love them. You’ve become very popular among our covert wine lovers. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

SHANNON: It is fantastic to be with you, once again. Thanks for loving our wines as much as you do!

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

SHANNON: I think my horticulture class in the 5th grade, started my love for growing things. That developed into growing grapes when my family purchased 180 acres in Paso Robles in 1980. My sister convinced me to go to UC Davis because they needed winemakers for the new developing wine industry in the early 1980’s. She was in her 2nd year as a Viticulture major and I had just graduated high school and had plans to take over my father’s medical practice. My efforts to get into a premed university were daunting despite my great GPA and SAT scores. My sister suggested I sign up for the Fermentation Science Program at Davis which was the exact same first two years curriculum as a premed Biology major consisting of basically, lots of math and science. She told after your second year, transferring to a pre-med school would be very easy at that point. She was right, because there were only 13 students that signed up that year, and I slid right in. The only thing she was wrong about was, once I found out how cool being a winemaker was, med school was out!

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

SHANNON: Making Cabernet Sauvignon is the Holy Grail of winemaking. Cabernet has always been the backbone of my winemaking style and the history of my wines. Thank god, O’Neill Vineyards has been a never ending supply of high quality fruit for this endeavor!

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

SHANNON: Making Cabernet Sauvignon is the Holy Grail of winemaking. Cabernet has always been the backbone of my winemaking style and the history of my wines. Our two estate vineyards has always been a source of high quality fruit for this endeavor!

RED: Who do you make wine for?

SHANNON: I am the winemaker for our two estate brands, Maloy O’Neill Vineyards and O’Neill Vineyards and have been a production consultant and have done custom crush work for many small startup wineries on the central coast.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

SHANNON: Well the 2007 Enzo, like all the other Enzo’s I’ve made is a wine based around my love for working with Lagrein. Lagrein is a grape varietal that comes from the foothills of Alto Adige, in the Northeastern part of Italy (just below Austria). It’s really the only place in the world (besides the less than 30 acres of it that has recently been planted here in California) that I know of this grapes existence. Lagrein, by itself is such a dark, unctuous mountain wine, and while I try to make a 100% Lagrein each year I can, the Enzo lets me play with what I think is Lagrein’s other great attribute—its absolutely an amazing varietal to blend with others…

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

SHANNON: Because there is over 50% Sangiovese in this year’s version of Enzo, it’s a very good food wine. I enjoy drinking the Enzo with Steak (great with a NY or Filet with a gorgonzola wine reduction). It also compliments a rack of Lamb perfectly.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Paso Region so special?

SHANNON: Paso, because of its very cool nights is a most unique appellation. We get these incredible fluctuations between day and night, sometimes over 50 degrees. So the vines get plenty of heat (or degree days) yet the cool nights maintain the grapes acidity which you need to grow the most premium fruit. 2007 was an amazing vintage for us (as it was for many in California). The 2007 Enzo is the best Enzo yet—a rich, and powerful wine, with heaps of fruit on the mid-palate, generous tannins, and great acidity for a wine of its ripeness and weight.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

SHANNON: We’re getting ready for this year’s harvest. I just bottled up three new wines with a few more to be bottled and released here in the last part of this year. No rest for the weary!!

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

SHANNON: I make 36 different wines a year so I have a huge portfolio of many different styles and varietals to choose from. There is literally something for everyone. But if your one of those wine drinkers that like big, huge, extracted, intense varietal character reds, than you’re going to love my wines, because that is what I specialize in, and that is where my passion is! The Fremere is delicate dinner wine, that goes good with most foods, but I have many wines that are quaffing wines only, that can be served as the meal, so whatever style you like, go through the list on our website, and I promise you will find what you’re looking for!

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

SHANNON: I would just like to thank all of you for your unending support, and also the wine spies who do a wonderful job at picking wines that are unique and of interest to people who are looking for something more than what is available on the supermarket shelves. The Spies have consistently choose wines from all the different wineries they feature, that are worth checking out, and they also expose wineries who do not have worldwide distribution to and audience that might never get a chance to try new and exciting wines from small mom and pop wineries from many different regions! I welcome all of you to come to Paso Robles to see all the great things going on here, and if you do! Please visit us and say hello. For all of those who take me up on my offer, just mention you’re from the Spies and we will give you an extra discount on all wines and waive your tasting fees! Thank you again, and hope to see you soon!

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

SHANNON: Thank you and all your customers for your loyal support over the years and enjoy Maloy O’Neill wines.

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Maloy O’Neill Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.

2005 Maloy O’Neill Vineyards Enzo Super-Tuscan

Posted in California, Red Blend, Sangiovese with tags , , , , on April 7, 2010 by thewinespies

Mission Codename: Honor the Artist

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Return to Maloy O’Neill, in Paso Robles, where Shannon O’Neill’s 2005 Enzo is now ready to enjoy. Procure as many cases as possible for our Operatives – who purchased their 2004 Enzo in record numbers

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Maloy O’Neill

Wine Subject: 2005 Enzo

Winemaker: Shannon O’Neill

Backgrounder: Paso Robles has long been established as a wine producing region that give other California regions a run for their money. With a climate and soils that make for perfect growing conditions for grapes, it is no wonder. Winemakers in Paso are a somewhat unique breed, often declaring themselves to be the renegades of Cali wine. A meeting with Shannon O’Neill, winemaker and owner of Maloy O’Neill affirms this sentiment. A warm, excited and deeply passionate man, Shannon makes wines that reflect his personality. Join Agent Red as he visits Shannon – and returns with a cache of his 2005 Enzo for our O’Neill-loving Operatives.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – The wine has a striking, deeply old world look to it. The wine shows darkly garnet, with an inky and foreboding heart of dark red plum. The edges of the wine have a fine ruby hue and skinny legs take on this color as well

Smell – Surprisingly bright and ripe, given the color of the wine. Bold fruit of mixed berries, minerals and bramble lead off. These are followed by soft sweetwoods, with a primary cedar note that seems to shine through at the end

Feel – Plush and round, this wine gradually coats the mouth as soft tannins introduce a soft and mineral-infused dryness

Taste – Bright and delicious with pronounced tart raspberry leading the charge. This initial flavor is followed by mixed berries, with blackberry, smoky blueberry and young strawberry. Additional flavors are subtle, but add to the character and complexity of the wine. These include hints of cedar, eucalyptus, pine and flint

Finish – Long and sweet-tart, flavors tail off gradually, to be replaced by a flinty dryness that makes the mouth water

Conclusion – We really love Shannon O’Neills wines, and today’s 2005 Enzo is a delicious reminder as to why. This unique blend of 75% Lagrein, 25% Sangiovese makes for a very interesting drinking experience. Where Lagrein is usually used in Northern Italy as a secondary blending component, Shannon has chosen it as a primary component. This bold decision has yielded a wine that is unlike any you may have tasted before. With plenty of fruit and bold flavors, this wine also presents subtlety and complexity. Pair with rich foods or enjoy on its own, this age-worthy wine is ready to enjoy now.

Mission Report:

SUBJECT: Shannon O’Neill

WINE EDUCATION: B.S. Fermentation Science, U.C.Davis

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: 1982-Present, Vice President, Vineyard Operations, O’Neill Vineyards, Paso Robles, CA; 1999-Present, President, Winemaker, Maloy O’Neill Vineyards, Paso Robles, CA; 2005- Present, Wine Production Consultant For Various Start Up Wineries on the Central Coast of California.

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Making great wine while developing one on one customer relationships.

WINEMAKER QUOTE: “I love making big, extracted, intense varietal character wines, and lots of them”

FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1999


WINEMAKER INTERVIEW

AGENT RED: Greetings, Shannon. We are thrilled to be showing your 2005 Enzo today. We featured your ‘04 Enzo, last year and our Operatives loved it. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

SHANNON: The pleasure is all mine!

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

SHANNON: I think my horticulture class in the 5th grade, started my love for growing things. That developed into growing grapes when my family purchased 180 acres in Paso Robles in 1980. My sister convinced me to go to UC Davis because they needed winemakers for the new developing wine industry in the early 1980’s. She was in her 2nd year as a Viticulture major and I had just graduated high school and had plans to take over my father’s medical practice. My efforts to get into a premed university were daunting despite my great GPA and SAT scores. My sister suggested I sign up for the Fermentation Science Program at Davis which was the exact same first two years curriculum as a premed Biology major consisting of basically, lots of math and science. She told after your second year, transferring to a pre-med school would be very easy at that point. She was right, because there were only 13 students that signed up that year, and I slid right in. The only thing she was wrong about was, once I found out how cool being a winemaker was, med school was out!

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

SHANNON: Making Cabernet Sauvignon is the Holy Grail of winemaking. Cabernet has always been the backbone of my winemaking style and the history of my wines. Thank god, O’Neill Vineyards has been a never ending supply of high quality fruit for this endeavor!

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

SHANNON: Making Cabernet Sauvignon is the Holy Grail of winemaking. Cabernet has always been the backbone of my winemaking style and the history of my wines. Our two estate vineyards has always been a source of high quality fruit for this endeavor!

RED: Who do you make wine for?

SHANNON: I am the winemaker for our two estate brands, Maloy O’Neill Vineyards and O’Neill Vineyards and have been a production consultant and have done custom crush work for many small start up wineries on the central coast.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

SHANNON: Ah, the ‘05 Enzo. Well, for starters it is one of the best blends I’ve made to date. The wine is 75% Lagrein and 25% Sangiovese (the ‘04 Enzo which you featured last year was 50% Sangiovese, 25% Lagrein and 25% Petite Syrah…).

Of all the Varieties that I work with, Lagrein is without a doubt the most interesting and unique (and as a result probably my favorite). The grape itself comes from the hills of Alto Adige (north eastern Italy), in around a little town called Bolzano. There are now a whopping 20 or so acres of Lagrein in the entire state of California, and I am one of only a handful of wine makers to have the pleasure of working with this grape.

Lagrein is very dark in color, giving off aromas of casis, floral notes and other exotic black fruits. It’s alot like Cabernet Sauvignon as a matter of fact (higher in tannins and moderately high in acid)—it just has such a markedly different taste. The 25% Sangiovese gives the ‘05 Enzo a nice red fruit aspect with a little spicy high tone…

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

SHANNON: Like where it is grown, Lagrein (and Sangiovese) pairs well with many different foods ranging from just about any meat (beef, pork, sausage, wild boar, venison) to most pasta’s (risotto) and tomato sauces – it’s truly a wine begging for food…

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Paso Region so special?

SHANNON:Paso Robles is unique because of its high diurnal temperature flux and great diversity in soil make up, from area to area. In the growing season, it will be in the mid 90’s during the day and in the 50’s at night. This radical temperature flux creates a wonderful sugar/acid balance that allows the vines in Paso Robles to become physiologically mature before harvest lending to the bigger style reds coming out of the area and a big part of our wineries success.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

SHANNON: We just got done pruning back all the vines and with this last little burst of rain and the following sunshine, bud break has just occurred. So I’m in the vineyard a lot, and I have just racked up all the ‘09’s…So much to do, so little time…

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

SHANNON: I make 36 different wines a year so I have a huge portfolio of many different styles and varietals to choose from. There is literally something for everyone. But if your one of those wine drinkers that like big, huge, extracted, intense varietal character reds, than you’re going to love my wines, because that is what I specialize in, and that is where my passion is! The Fremere is delicate dinner wine, that goes good with most foods, but I have many wines that are quaffing wines only, that can be served as the meal, so whatever style you like, go through the list on our website, and I promise you will find what you’re looking for!

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

SHANNON: I would just like to thank all of you for your unending support, and also the wine spies who do a wonderful job at picking wines that are unique and of interest to people who are looking for something more than what is available on the supermarket shelves. The Spies have consistently choose wines from all the different wineries they feature, that are worth checking out, and they also expose wineries who do not have worldwide distribution to and audience that might never get a chance to try new and exciting wines from small mom and pop wineries from many different regions! I welcome all of you to come to Paso Robles to see all the great things going on here, and if you do! Please visit us and say hello. For all of those who take me up on my offer, just mention your from the Spies and we will give you an extra discount on all wines and waive your tasting fees! Thank you again, and hope to see you soon!

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Maloy O’Neill Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.

2004 Maloy O’Neill Vineyards Enzo Super-Tuscan

Posted in California, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese with tags , , , , , on December 26, 2009 by thewinespies

Mission Codename: The Hand of Shannon

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Return to Maloy O’Neill Vineyards in Paso Robles, uncover their best red blend, secure an amply supply for our blend-thirsty Operatives around the U.S.A.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Maloy O’Neill Vineyards

Wine Subject: 2004 Enzo

Winemakers: Shannon O’Neill

Backgrounder: Paso Robles has long been established as a wine producing region that give other California regions a run for their money. With a climate and soils that make for perfect growing conditions for grapes, it is no wonder. Winemakers in Paso are a somewhat unique breed, often declaring themselves to be the renegades of Cali wine. A meeting with Shannon O’Neill, winemaker and owner of Maloy O’Neill affirms this sentiment. A warm, excited and deeply passionate man, Shannon makes wines that reflect his personality. Join Agent Red as he revisits Shannon, tastes his incredible 2004 Enzo, and returns with a cache of the wine for our eager Operatives.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – A beautiful deep dark garnet, with thickly concentrated color through its dark heart of pure garnet – and all the way to the edges of the wine. When swirled, this wine shows a springy surface that settles quickly – leaving behind tight tightly-packed ropey legs that take a long time to emerge before they move slowly down the glass

Smell – A rush of deep, dark and dusky aromas, lead by a strikingly fresh bing cherry. This gorgeous aromatic is followed by dark blackberry, bright fresh raspberry, red plum, soft oak, cedar, a hint pine sap and a hint of dried mint

Feel – Soft and tender on the initial attack, then the wine grows big and becomes mouth-filling with smooth and supple tannins that, after a a few moments, grip in at the top of the palate, the tongue and lips, eventually drying the cheeks – causing you to smack your lips!

Taste – Delicious, juicy, dark, dusky and really exotic, with layers of concentrated dark and bright flavors. These are led, solidly, by dark plum, ripest blackberry, bright red cherry, raspberry – and followed by smoky hints of subtle flint, cedar and soft spices

Finish – Dark and concentrated at first, then bright fruits emerge in tandem with the dark fruits. They exist, side-by-side, for a long interval before they tail off very gradually, leaving behind dusky flavors of minerals, dark fruit and herbs

Conclusion – What a great pleasure to return to our friends at Maloy O’Neill – and to return with this particular wine! A favorite of winery personnel, I was really impressed with the delicious uniqueness of this wine. Shannon O’Neill is a modern mad scientist and old-school naturalist, crafting wines the old-fashioned way, while imbuing them with his spectacular knowledge of the region and the varietals that he specializes in. This is a deeply concentrated wine, but it is balanced and easy to drink. It also has the fine acidity to pair with almost any foods. Shannon’s winemaking techniques, from end to end, are literally hands-on. There is no automated production or miles of piping that the wine has to move through in the process. He even corks each bottle by hand. His love for his wines shine through – especially in this superb red blend, his 2004 Enzo.

Mission Report:

Below follows an excerpt from Agent Red’s initial recon of Maloy O’Neill Vineyards.

Just a few days ago, I was fortunate to spend time with Shannon O’Neill, one of the founding father’s of the Paso wine scene.

Shannon purchased his first vineyard land back in 1980 and was one of the first dozen vintners planting in the appellation. Today, there are more than 120 Paso wineries and Shannon’s Maloy O’Neill is considered an original – and one of the finest.

The day I met Shannon, the weather was mercifully moderate. The last time I visited the region in the summertime, the weather soared to 106 degrees. That was a year ago, and I was loath to experience another sweltering day. Thank Bacchus for a cooler day.

Shannon told me that the weather this summer had been somewhat unusual, with temperatures bouncing all around. “It’s been an unusual summer to be sure,” Shannon told me. “Day to day, temps have been fluctuating far more than usual.”

When I asked Shannon to tell me how the grapes were doing with these temperature swings, he told me:

“The swings make me a little nervous, particularly when temps soar to 116 as we saw recently. When temps get that high, vines can shut down, putting the grapes in danger. Fortunately, our grapes are all doing great.”

“This is the time of year when we visit the vineyards several times a day to see when they start to get their color. When the first hints of purple appear on the grapes, we know that harvest is right around the corner. Right now, I am ordering all of my harvest supplies and getting my team ready to pick, sort and rush the grapes to the winery.”

As we walked through the vineyards, Shannon pointed out the wide assortment of his grapes. Here, he grows and tends to Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Chardonnay, Muscat Canelli, and Malvasia Bianca, these latter two being more obscure but very interesting grape varietals. We discussed the grapes, picking and tasting as we walked and talked.

I asked Shannon to characterize the differences between wines made in Paso Robles and those from Napa and Sonoma.

“Well, that’s a big question, but I’ll boil it down in simple terms: Because of the hotter temperatures, Paso wines tend to be more deeply extracted and big. The higher temps lead to higher sugars which, in turn, lead to higher alcohol. When making my wines, I strive to deliver big and bold flavors, but also wines that hold up when paired with food. Some of my wines are meant to solo imbibing to be sure, but the Lexicon that you are enjoying is a great food wine. Bright acidity and deep fruit don’t overpower and are perfect with lighter foods or even hearty entrees.”

My afternoon with the winemaker over, I headed back to Central Command, the trunk of my hybrid Spy SUV stuffed with Maloy O’Neill’s great wines. And those were just the wines for my cellar! You’ll have to get your own today, dear Operative, before we run out!

A hearty thank you to Shannon for the great tour!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Maloy O’Neil vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.

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