Friday, July 20, 2012

Review and Rating: ****+ Chez Ray M5 Las Brisas Merlot, 2005, Carneros, Sonoma County CA

Original Review, July, 2008: This is a newer vintage Chez Ray wine, vinted from Brehm frozen grapes from Sonoma county. This pure-breed merlot was first sampled here and its making was described here.

Let's see what it brings to the table: In the glass, it is a deep magenta with dark purple tinged highlights. The aromas is beefy, sweet, fruity, oaky, chocolate and slightly dark - a nice combo! On the palate, the first note is an extracted, lightly acidic plum, pushed along by the deeper cocoa notes. Finish seems to fade, but comes back on a substantive rebound. I do believe this could use another 2 years of age; still, I would stay with it for an entire tasting - thus four stars out of five.

Updated review, February, 2009: Now medium dusty red in the glass. Beguiling aroma has the same characteristics as above. On the palate, a sweet, full, just-slightly-tangy front, laden with full fruit and sizable tannin blast. Wow, extracted, lengthy finish, bringing back chocolate cherries. Outstanding. Still good for time in the bottle. Showing its stuff very well. Still four stars.

Updated review, January, 2010: Now just about three years from bottling.  Comparable color.  Now thick beef blood comes through first and brilliantly on the nose.  Awesome.  The palate shows a more viscous start, thick chocolate-coated ripe plums.  Tannins and acids move to the cheeks for a long close.  Excellent, and yet still evolving.

Updated review, July, 2010:  five years from vintage date, three and a half years since bottling.  Comparable color and aromas to the recent January tasting - brilliant and thick.  Even more chocolate now on the palate. Fabulous - a plus added to the four stars for residual power.

Updated review, July, 2012: now seven years from vintage. Deep mahogany with concentrated black cherry aromas.  Thick fruit, intense and soft.  Nice balance.  Big, bold offering still.  Showing just the right amount of mellowing from age.  


  1. Malolactic fermentation - how can you tell?
    Great blog and wine making! Thanks for sharing!
    This picture of all the carboys by the fireplace raises many questions:
    how long?
    how can you tell when the malolactic fermentation is over?
    How is the taste affected?
    Do you do it for all red varietals?

  2. Chris,
    These are all excellent questions. I don't do enzymatic tests for malolactic completion, so the truth is:
    1) I can't tell when it is over; but
    2) I inoculate for it and tend to leave carboys in warmer temperatures for two or three weeks minimum to help it get started;
    3) I BELIEVE (but can't prove) that malolactic begins to soften some of the sharp elbows in a young red wine; and
    4) yes, I inoculate all my reds, and none of my whites for malolactic.