Bravante Vineyards 2003 Howell Mountain Simpatico Meritage

  • Varietal: Meritage   *Region: California: Howell Mountain (Napa)

Today’s wine is a fantastic Meritage blend that is so good that we issued this special alert. We only feature wines that we love, but issue these alerts when we spy a really stand out wine for you.

Current Winery: Bravante Vineyards

Wine Subject:  2003 Simpatico Meritage

Winemaker: Duane Dappen

Backgrounder: Today we return to Bravante Vineyard, a true sleeper hit among our Operatives.  Today, Agent Red returns from the Bravante library with a small handful of cases of their ultra-rare 2003 Simpatico Meritage, a fantastic wine that is layered and delicious.  Read Agent Red’s tasting notes, below.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep mulberry or garnet, with a glinting rim of finest ruby. After swirling this wine, skinny wine-stained tears run slowly down the edge of the glass.

Smell – Bold cherry, blackberry, plum and bramble lead the way. These are accompanied by softer blueberry, roasted purple fig and a hint of soft eucalyptus.

Feel – Velvet entry, leading to a medium body. Soft minerality and fine grained tannins give way to a elegant dryness.

Taste – Sweet cherry juice yields quickly to darker flavors of blackberry, plum, tart boysenberry, cooked fig and soft oak, with hints of anise, cinnamon and pepper.

Finish – Long and elegant, with lingering black cherry and soft spice notes with a soft mineral dryness.

Conclusion – This is a serious wine with a elegance that makes it a sheer delight to imbibe. Deeply aromatic with balanced flavors on the palate that show off big dark fruit, tempered against bright red fruit and fine tannins.  This wine paired beautifully with grilled tri-tip and grilled artichokes, and we can’t wait to pair it up with stuffed peppers or pulled pork.  Enjoy this great wine now, or cellar some bottles for the next few years.

Mission Report:


AGENT RED: Greetings, Duane. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Trio today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

DUANE:  You’re welcome.  I am excited to be working with you spies and I promise to not reveal your true names.
RED: We appreciate that! Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
DUANE: As I was growing up in El Dorado County, I worked with a friend’s father making home wine in their cave that was an abandoned gold mine.  I actually did a 4-H project of winemaking.  We entered our wines in the El Dorado County Fair and won ‘Best of Show’ for our Wild Blackberry wine.

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

DUANE: I have worked with many winemakers and have influences from several, so there is not any to really single out. Working here in the Napa Valley for 25 years has allowed me to work with and try many wines.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

DUANE: I make it for the ladies.  Wine sales many times ultimately come down to whether chicks dig it or not?
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

DUANE: Our Simpatico is a blend of the best wines from the vintage.  I blend this to be rich and elegant, with good complexity.  The name is from the grapes and the owners being in simpatico

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

DUANE: I love this wine with a nice dry aged steak,  or a rich risotto with veal stock and some mushrooms.
RED: Yummy! In your opinion, what makes the Howell Mountain region so special?

DUANE: The Howell Mountain is a place where the soils and microclimate help produce grapes that have intensity and complexity.  They have great structure that works with the complexity to produce elegance.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
DUANE: I am racking the last vintage wines and preparing the  prior vintage blends for bottling later this year.

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

DUANE: They should get some good friends and loved ones have some of our tasty Howell Mountain wines and good food and enjoy themselves.  The main thing anyone needs to know about wine is what they like!

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

DUANE: Come check out the new winery and enjoy the beautiful Howell Mountain countryside.

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 Bravante Vineyards winery can be seen in this satellite photo.

*Local Food And Wine *

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