2005 Maloy O’Neill Vineyards Enzo Super-Tuscan
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.
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
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.