Our Merlot displays deep scarlet color, lush red-fruit and spice expression and soft, silky texture. This beautifully balanced wine was created from grapes grown in Napa Valley’s Los Carneros, Oak Knoll and Rutherford regions. Enjoy this versatile wine with grilled or roasted beef, lamb, turkey or pork. It’s also fabulous with mushrooms—in risotto, polenta or pasta sauce, or grilled on the barbecue.
Appellation: Los Carneros, Oak Knoll
Aging: 18 months, French Oak, American Oak and Hungarian Oak (40% New Barrels)
Varietal Composition: 100% Merlot
Production: 11,467 cases
Our 2005 Napa Valley Merlot opens with aromas of dark cherry, pomegranate and blackberry intertwined with hints of chocolate cherry liqueur, mineral and cinnamon. The velvety flavors fan out across the palate with more red berry fruit, and then pick up nutmeg and malted chocolate notes on the lingering finish. “Selecting grapes from three diverse Napa Valley regions gives us access to nature’s spice rack,” says Winemaker Chris Cooney. “The coolest region, Los Carneros, yields Merlot with bold spiciness and robust structure. Oak Knoll, a slightly warmer area further up the valley, produces Merlot with distinct cherry aromas and bright acidity. Rutherford, in the heart of the valley, offers ripe plum flavors and a supple palate.”
The Napa Valley is approximately 30 miles long and ranges in width from one to five miles, with the Los Carneros, Oak Knoll and Rutherford American Viticultural Areas located in the lower half. The variation in soils, site exposure and climates contribute to the unique flavors expressed by each vineyard.
The 2005 vintage set a record for hangtime, resulting in exceptionally ripe Merlot flavors with balanced acidity. Heavy winter rains during vine dormancy gave way to a dry, mild March. Significant rains returned in April and May, delaying bloom and berry set. Summer temperatures were desirably mild, with few heat spikes. We harvested the Merlot clusters in the foggy, early fall mornings, with ideal sugar-to-acid balance and deliciously ripe flavors.
We harvested the grapes from September 23 to October 7 as the vineyards in each region ripened. We hand harvested the Merlot clusters into half-ton bins to minimize crushing and then quickly transported the fruit to our winery. We then destemmed the clusters, maintaining approximately 60 percent whole berries to maximize fruitiness during fermentation. For gentle extraction, winemakers Tom Rinaldi and Chris Cooney cold-soaked the partially crushed berries for two days before the two-week fermentation. Aging in French, American and Hungarian oak barrels wove toasty toffee notes through the lush, silky flavors.