Developing wines with complex flavors and intense varietal character
Located in the heart of Monterey County, Ranch 32 emerges from the westerly foothills adjoining the area’s scenic benchlands. Great wines originate from perfectly-situated vineyards and Ranch 32, with a blessed microclimate and gentle slopes of Lockwood shaly loam soils, is such a place.
It is part of two appellations, Hames Valley AVA and San Lucas AVA, both of which are sub appellations of Monterey County AVA. Its location in the southern (warmer) part of the county, allows ample summertime sun to reach the Bordeaux varietals that comprise the Vintner’s Reserve 2013 Meritage. This extended hang time allows the fruit to develop complex flavors and intense varietal character.
Vincent Catalaa - Winemaker
Born and raised in Saint Jean, a suburban town near Toulouse, France, Catalaa holds a Master’s of Science in Enology and Viticulture from University Paul Sabatier in the same city. He interned in both France and South Africa before immigrating to the United Sates. Other notable winery jobs include Château Saint Auriol (Corbieres), Blossom Hill Winery and Josh Jensen’s heralded Calera Wines where he served as an assistant winemaker.
Catalaa, now 40, considers himself an accomplished cook and delights in pairing specific wines with foods. His first wine experience was at aged 2, when his parents offered him some that had been watered down. His preferences tend toward older Bordeaux-style wines, particularly ones that have had a chance to develop in the bottle. Although, he has recently become a convert to California Pinot Noirs and particularly the elegant, silky ones reminiscent of fine Burgundies.
The making of Ranch 32’s 2013 Meritage is right up Vincent Catalaa’s alley. The combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Verdot is widely used around Bordeaux and is considered as classical blending.
Monterey County is comprised of nearly 46,000 acres of grape vines which benefit from the regions various microclimates. Cool winds from Monterey Bay travel through the vineyards in the morning and are greeted by the welcoming afternoon heat. A multitude of varietals grow well in these soils and develop complexity and depth due to the slow ripening and extended hang time.
Many eons ago the mouth of the valley all the way to Salinas was swampland. The word “Salinas” itself means marsh, and the biomass and teeming microbial activity of the wetlands left the silty earth deeply enriched with nutrients. What’s left today in the bottom of the 5-mile-wide, 60-mile-long Salinas Valley is a patchwork of weathered alluvial and sedimentary soils suspended over two aquifers, one 180 feet down, the other 200 feet below that — a masterpiece of natural engineering.
In other words, it is a perfect area for growing grapes.