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Merlot, Napa Valley


  This Merlot comes from the cooler southern portion of Napa Valley. The cooler temperatures allow for more "hang time" which produces more intense flavors and better tannic structure. The vineyards required some careful morning side leaf removal and irrigation management to ensure enough “hang time” to get even and complete berry ripening. Too few leaves on the vine do not generate enough energy for world class flavors and the berries may become sun burned; too many leaves and the berries end up shaded and not as fruity. The temperate application of irrigation water maintained a healthy canopy of leaves that survived the couple of heat spells we had. Extensive field testing and tasting determined the optimal day to pick.

Winemaking
Following hand-harvesting, the grapes were de-stemmed only (whole berries). Fermentations were conducted in a combination of open-top vessels with a punch-down device and closed tanks with gentle cap irrigators. Several types of yeast were used for both inoculated and uninoculated fermenting. Most lots were pressed directly to barrel, and malolactic fermentations finished in barrel. The wine was racked and returned to barrel three times to help soften and open the wine.

Tasting Notes
Brimming with bright red currant and raspberry. Layers of cinnamon, clove, cigar box, vanilla and chocolate serve as delicious counterpoints to the pervasive berry fruit. A serious wine with excellent color and firm yet silky tannins. In the mouth a wonderfully smooth wine that has a warm comforting silky feeling from start to lingering finish. A splendid acid and soft tannin balance ensure this wine will both go well with food and evolve into a greater wine over the next decade. This is a great Merlot.

Alcohol content, 14.5%.
811 cases produced


Wine Enthusiast

"Has the prettiest bouquet of red cherries and smoke, with hints of bacon, thyme, mint and white chocolate. Equally complex on the palate, with the most generous texture. Pure velvet." Editor's Choice.

Houston Chronicle

"What merlot should be – a generous dollop of fruit, but fruit with body, not some wimped-out, washed-out red wine..." 4 ½ stars.

California Grapevine

"Highly recommended...attractive, forward, toasty, spicy, green olive and sweet cherry fruit aroma; medium-full body; rich, moderately concentrated herbal, cherry and berry fruit flavors; medium-full tannin; slightly dry and tarrish on the finish; lingering aftertaste."

Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, California

"Wine of the Week. Rich and ripe without being over-ripe. A vibrant texture, with aromas and flavors of red currant, cherry cola, dusty cedar and sweet wood. Polished." 4 ½ stars.

Wine Spectator

"Focused on tasty red cherry, black berry and plum, turning spicy and cedary, with firm tannins." James Laube's Smart Buys in California Merlot.

Restaurant Wine

"A complex, concentrated Merlot, with layers of new oak character. It is full bodied, moderately rich, and quite woody, which shows through on the finish."

Quarterly Review of Wines

"California Best of the Best. Good deep color; brooding black-fruit and toasted-oak nose; lush, concentrated, blackberry, coffee and nutty-oak-vanillin flavors; soft, elegant finish." Excellent.

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