2004 Maloy O’Neill Vineyards Fremère
Mission Codename: Paso Doulbe
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 Fremère
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 visits Shannon, tastes his incredible 2004 Fremère, and returns with a cache of the wine for our eager Operatives.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Beautiful garnet to ruby red with an inky dark ruby heart. The wine has a tight and springy surface that settles down fast – but continues to spin – after swirling, leaving behind huge legs that move slowly down the glass
Smell – Full intensity of deep aromatic red fruits and black fruits, featuring dark berry, tart cherry, cassis, raspberry, shaved chocolate, mild pepper, cigar box and sweetwoods
Feel – Full-bodied and voluptuous at the front of the palate – then mouth-coating and slightly dry with beautiful medium tannins that fade slowly to reveal more great flavors
Taste – Juicy, ripe and so delicious, with lush slightly-smoky blackberries and cherries balanced against soft raspberry, dusky sandalwood, and mild spice
Finish – A long, rich and dusky finish that ramps down smoothly and continues to reveal new flavors as it tapers off
Conclusion – This is another beautiful wine from one of the Paso region’s original winemakers, Shannon O’Neill. Maloy O’Neill represents the best that the region has to offer, with wines that are balanced and delivious. While some Paso wines can tend to be overextracted, Shannon shows off the beauty of his fruit and the excellence of his experience by delivering wines that are elegant and full of flavor, without being over the top. This wine is perfectly integrated, with lush aromatics, a sexy mouth feel and flavors that make me smile!
SPECIAL NOTE: We managed to get our hands on the final handful of cases, and today is your last chance to procure this great wine
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’Neill Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.