The Grapes of Roth by Wolffer Estate


Tasting Notes from The Wine Advocate July 2006

2002 The Grapes of Roth Merlot:  92
2001 The Grapes of Roth Merlot:  91

Roman Roth, the winemaker for Shinn Estate Vineyards, Wolffer Estate, and Roanoke Vineyards, has attempted to pull out all the stops in crafting a couple of hundred cases of his own brand, the first of which are just now being released.  The results are of a sort guaranteed to bring down the house at blind tastings, but it would be a shame not to set some aside in one’s cellar as well to await the verdict of time.  Consumers who fail to fill up Mr. Roth’s answering machine should recall that they were warned here first.

The Grapes of Roth 2002 Merlot is already slightly amber at the rim (whatever that may or may not indicate about its future evolution, on which I hesitate to speculate without precedent) and is visibly unfiltered.  The nose is offered a stunning amalgamation of fresh plum, dried cranberries, soy, Syrah-like bacon fat, beef marrow, blood pudding, and iodine.  Had I been told it were a 7-to-9-year-old Right Bank Bordeaux, I might well have believed it, and for all of its young age and its layered profundity, it is improbably drinkable.  The palate is marked by expansive flavors of black and red fruits, mean, and minerals.  The wine exhibits plushness and elegance, offering a seemingly paradoxical sense of weightlessness allied to enormous richness and palate saturation.  Its finish is superbly long, with deep marrowy, minerally undertones, faint plum pit bitterness, and persistently bright, juicy, slightly tart berry fruit.

The Grapes of Roth 2001 Merlot appears to be more concentrated, less evolved, but also marginally less winsome than the 2002.  Noevertheless, Roth is releasing them in chronological order.  Strikingly intense aromas of flowers, ripe black cherry, brown spices, and beef marrow entice the nose.  The wine comes to the palate with concentrated cherry, sweet green herbs, and an intriguing, faintly bitter medicinal note.  Firm yet fine-grained, this full-bodied Merlot finishes impressively with a bitter sweet combination of cherry and quinine, accompanied by notes of herbal and floral essences, iodine, and a faintly signed note.

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