California GSM Blend Calls to Mind Southern Rhône
Mark Herold, writes Robert Parker, “first came to my attention because of the brilliant wines he produced under the name Merus.” The most influential wine critic ever has tracked Herold’s career ever since, calling Mark “one of the more interesting winemakers in California” and pouring out praise for his “delicious, Mediterranean-influenced everyday reds” that are “excellent values.” Herold first came to my attention during one of our judging panels and after learning the price (we don’t know the price before we taste and score the wine), my jaw dopped, realizing Wine Access clients would get a shot at $13.99 per bottle! Parker has written that it is “delicious and could easily pass for a Côtes du Rhone in a blind tasting” — and our panel agreed. If you can’t get your hands on Herold’s 98-point Mastodon (selling for $750 a magnum), hit “Buy” now on the very last remaining cases of this 2012 Flux Red — a black-fruited, sultry, voluptuous GSM. This is surely the last time you’ll see this critically acclaimed winemaker’s superb efforts go for 50% off the release price.
Herold soaked up wisdom and success at his first wine gig, as a research enologist at Joseph Phelps. He would go on to found Merus, which Wine Spectator called “one of California’s most exciting new wineries.” Operating out of a converted garage alongside his wife, he started releasing Cabernets that were instant collectibles, scoring in the high 90s. He also began working on the side for a half-dozen high-profile California wineries, including Kamen and Hestan, leading Spectator to call him “one of Napa Valley’s best-known Cabernet winemaking consultants.”
After Merus, Herold took a break from Cabernet to turn his attention to Southern Rhône varieties with this Flux red. Following in the steps of California’s famous Rhone Rangers, he sourced exceptional fruit from coveted sites like Oakville Ranch, Stagecoach and Hudson Vineyard. This concentrated, chewy blend combines 84% Grenache, a dollop of savory Mourvèdre, and a splash of dark, dense Syrah in a soul-warming California Côtes-du-Rhone-inspired red that is simply an unbeatable value.
Cristaldi has worked in the wine industry for nearly a decade as a professional writer, critic, and educator. His published work has appeared in national print and online outlets including Food & Wine, Los Angeles Magazine, SOMM Journal, and many others.