Since producing our first vintage of Merlot in 1983, we’ve been committed to making the best possible expression of the variety. Understanding that site selection and farming are key to exceptional Merlot, we shifted our focus on sourcing with the 2014 vintage to the Napa side of Carneros, which we believe produces consistently high-quality wines from this noble grape.
Our Merlot is grown in estate-owned and grower-partner vineyards on the Napa side of Carneros, where the clay soils are similar to those of Bordeaux’s Right Bank. The cool climate allows the thin-skinned grapes to gradually develop flavor and tannin while retaining natural acidity.
A wet winter with moderate rainfall, a mild spring and a warm summer created the ideal growing season. Very warm weather at the beginning of harvest accelerated the need to pick early on in the season. Sustainable farming practices throughout the growing season were tailored to each block with the assistance of aerial photos produced using NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) technology. The fruit was hand-picked at night and sorted in the vineyard.
The grapes were carefully destemmed and optically sorted to ensure only perfect fruit made it into the wine. A cold soak extracted color and flavor. About 25% of the wine was barrel-fermented to provide a richer, more textured palate. The wine was gently basket-pressed before being racked to French oak barrels for aging.
Aromas of fresh, ripe blueberries, ripe plum and black currant intertwine with notes of cedar, vanilla and pie crust. This mediumbodied wine is plush with flavors of plums, blueberries and figs upfront, leading to juicy red fruit on the midpalate. Delicious now, its depth and structure provide long cellaring potential.