Vertical of Verite

Posted by Lukasz Kolodziejczyk on 2 December 2016

Vertical of Verite


Located in Sonoma Valley, USA and created in 1998, Verite Vinery has achieved great recognition for their wines. Pierre Seillan, chief winemaker, has done extraordinary work translating the micro-cru expression from the soil directly to the wines of Verite. Pierre doesn’t believe in perfection (me neither), as he says you can’t improve on perfection.


The winery sources fruit from mountain ranges in Sonoma County, Alexandre Valley, Bennett Valley, Chalk Hill and Knight Valley.


Verite means ‘truth’ in English and Pierre is very clear about the fact that their work revolves around translating of the truth of their soil to the character of Verite wines. The estate produces three wines:


  • La Muse: meaning ‘inspiration’: a supple, balanced Merlot inspired by Pomerol.
  • La Joie: meaning ‘joy’: a Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon reminiscent of Pauillac.
  • Le Desir: meaning ‘desire’: a plush, exotic Cabernet Franc that reflects the elegance of Saint-Emilion.


I was surprised at how elegant and measured these wines are. There is nothing in excess which often happens in Napa, and the proportion in terms of alcohol and ripeness is surprising. Some of the back vintages were particularly reminiscent of Bordeaux.


Wine 1

2013 Verite La Muse

89% Merlot / 8% Cabernet Franc / 3% Malbec

14.4% ABV


Medium intense ruby core, fading towards the light ruby rim. Forward aromatics of espresso, roast dry plums and turned earth. Fruit is ripe and pure with a mix of plums and blackcurrant with nuanced aromas of oak. The layered aroma is followed by a harmonious, soft structure that is persistent.



Wine 2

2013 Verite La Joie

71% Cabernet Sauvignon / 16% Merlot / 8% Cabernet Franc / 5% Petit Verdot

14.3% ABV


Medium intense ruby core that is persistent to the rim. Notes of blackcurrant, dark plums and cherries macerated in herbs supported by roast meat aromas and a hint of sweet vanilla. Dry and firm, yet its softness combined with melting qualities both surprises and seduces at the same time.



Wine 3

2013 Verite Le Desir

65% Cabernet Franc / 22% Merlot / 11% Cabernet Sauvignon / 5% Malbec

14.4% ABV


Glossy, a medium intense red ruby core which is persistent to the rim. Lifted and forward, lots of sour red fruit along with dark cherry and plums. There is a beautiful note of green bell pepper infusion mixed with earth and clove (I love the aromatics of Cab Franc). Juicy and lively, this one shows more trimmed and focused flavours, yet its richness is not as broad as La Muse or La Joie.




The 2013 vintage was near perfect – I know, we hear that far too often, but this really is the case. Is this better than the 2010? In my experience the 2013 shows more definition and a somewhat slimmer structure which I personally like a lot.


Verite la Muse


We were treated to vertical testing of Verite La Muse 1998-2006, which we have here from oldest to youngest. The 1998 was the first vintage for Pierre Selian, marking the start of a great journey from which we could learn a lot.


To quote Pierre, “The past helps me to improve the future”.


1998 Verite la Muse

90% Merlot / 10% Cabernet Sauvignon

14.1% ABV


Medium intense ruby fading towards a light ruby rim. The wine has an intense mahogany tinge and shows its age right away. There’s roast prune with dry dark cherry and aromas of roast herbs mixed with earth and herbal components. The palate feels soft and round, with harmony and a medium intense depth of flavours. Feels much older than the nose and at its peak now. A satisfying finish.



1999 Verite la Muse

89% Merlot / 11% Cabernet Sauvignon

14.1% ABV


Medium+ intense ruby core fading towards the medium intense ruby rim. Just a hint of a mahogany tinge with spicy aromas of burnt orange peel, dry black cherry and dark currants enhanced by a delicate aroma of dry earth and smoke. The palate is dry, presenting a refreshing and savoury flavour with an intense mid-palate and spicy ending.



2000 Verite la Muse

86% Merlot / 10% Cabernet Franc / 4% Cabernet Sauvignon

14.1% ABV


Medium intense, glossy ruby red rim that is persistent to the core (the colour shows almost no variation). Ripe black cherry with plums and raspberries mixed with toasted wood, well complemented by clove, allspice and sweet vanilla. The palate is lively and dry showing tasty black fruit infused with spice and earth. Shows great vitality and length.



2001 Verite la Muse

87% Merlot / 12% Cabernet Franc / 1% Cabernet Sauvignon

14.1% ABV


Medium intense ruby core, persistent to the rim with a light mahogany tinge. Forward, built with herb-infused black cherry compote highlighted by turned earth and smoky roast meat. A lovely aromatic composition, while the palate shows breadth and freshness leading to a firm and refreshing conclusion.



2002 Verite la Muse

92.5% Merlot / 7% Cabernet Franc / 0.5% Cabernet Sauvignon

14.1% ABV


Medium intense ruby persistent to the rim showing a light mahogany rim. Very classy with pencil shavings and smoke with black plums and notes of roast nuts. Spice is the main actor with reserved fruit, balancing the flavour. The harmony is on point, and tannins with alcohol and acidity support each other well.



2003 Verite la Muse

84% Merlot / 10% Cabernet Franc / 5% Cabernet Sauvignon / 1 % Malbec

14.2% ABV


Deep saturated ruby red rim which fades to the medium intense ruby core. Black fruit dominates, with notes of cooked red cherry highlighted by damp earth and notes of violets. Dense and firm structure, showing lots of fruit/earth and wood character. The finish is decisive and long. I love the way this wine delivers its flavour. It shows lots of personality and ageing potential.



2004 Verite la Muse

86% Merlot / 7% Cabernet Franc / 4% Cabernet Sauvignon / 3 % Malbec

14.3% ABV


A deep saturated ruby that is persistent to the rim. Fruit is dark and rich; cassis and dark cherry with plums highlighted by burnt wood and turned earth. A mineral edge on the palate shows definition and depth and is well enhanced by lush fruit and oak. Dry and full, the textural pleasure is a great experience. A well-accomplished effort that is unapologetically European in style – I like it a lot.



2005 Verite la Muse

88% Merlot / 10% Cabernet Franc / 2% Malbec

14.5% ABV


Opaque, glossy core fading towards the intense dark ruby rim. Backed black plums, blackcurrant and stewed raspberry highlighted by clove, charcoal and smoke. An exciting palate that has volume, opulence and density matched by a structure and exemplary. A world class wine which will have much more to offer in the coming years.



2006 Verite la Muse

86% Merlot / 10% Cabernet Franc / 4% Malbec

14.1% ABV


A saturated deep ruby core that is persistent to the rim. Black plums and stewed red fruit-like aromas highlighted by earthy notes and hint of roast vegetables. The palate is introverted and reserved showing richness yet somewhat lacks precision. A long finish, but I feel the mid-palate and texture is not as fine as in the previous vintages.




It was surprising vertical testing where you could clearly see how individual wines vary from vintage to vintage. In my experience there is very little difference in wines from California, but Verite challenges that with an accomplished and diverse selection. Those seeking a benchmark won’t be disappointed – these wines belong to the world elite and certainly give First Growth Bordeaux run for its money.


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