When Agustin Huneeus founded Estancia in 1986, the wines were from the Alexander Valley in Sonoma County. But the brand, currently owned by beverage giant Constellation Brands, has evolved over the years, and now the wines come from Monterey County and Paso Robles.
The 700-acre Keyes Canyon Ranch Vineyard along the Estrella River on the east side of Paso Robles was planted in 1999 and 2000. Four hundred acres are devoted to cabernet sauvignon; the balance is planted with merlot, petit verdot, zinfandel, syrah and petite sirah. I recently tasted three current releases from that vineyard.
The 2004 Estancia Zinfandel ($12) is nicely balanced, with ripe blackberry and blueberry flavors, a note of chocolate and good acidity. It offers plenty of fruit without being overripe. And it’s very attractively priced.
The 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon ($15) displays juicy black cherry fruit, along with a subtle herbal component. The tannins, which build toward the finish, are firm but approachable.
For more money, there’s the attractive 2003 Meritage ($33), a blend of 79 percent cabernet sauvignon, 15 percent merlot and 6 percent petit verdot. The wine offers plenty of black cherry fruit, some nice spice, good concentration and firm, drying tannins. While the zin and the cab are ready to drink, this meritage should continue to improve for several years. If you want to drink it now, though, pair it with a hearty meat dish.