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 and Oak Knoll 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: 16 months, French Oak, American Oak and Hungarian Oak (45% New Barrels)
Varietal Composition: 100% Merlot
Production: 11,316 cases
Our 2006 Napa Valley Merlot isn’t shy, with its deep, dark garnet hue and abounding aromas of rich black cherry, cassis and clove. Approachable, integrated tannins frame the generous dark fruit flavors and coat the palate with soft velvet. The long, fruity finish, laced with autumn spices, ends with a lively cranberry zing. “This is a very classy wine from a gorgeous vintage. Take that, Miles!” laughs Winemaker Tom Rinaldi, with a reference to the film Sideways.
Winemakers Chris Cooney and Rinaldi chose Merlot from two subappellations of Napa Valley: Los Carneros and Oak Knoll. The Oak Knoll fruit gives the wine rich, ripe flavors and softer texture, while the cooler Los Carneros region—closer to the San Francisco Bay—provides lively acidity and bright, red fruit Merlot character. They selected grapes from six blocks of the Beckstoffer Las Amigas Vineyard and two from an Oak Knoll vineyard. These well-drained, high-quality vineyard blocks are trained and pruned to maximize flavor intensity from sun exposure and prolonged hangtime. Variations in soils and mesoclimate contribute to our Merlot’s complex array of fruit and spice expression.
“It was a long and rewarding harvest, perhaps—with all due respect for 2001—the best of the decade so far,” says Cooney. “Vine balance (leaf-to-fruit ratio) was more consistent in 2006, promoting slow, even fruit ripening and a relaxed harvest. Berry size was smaller than average in Rutherford, leading to highly structured wines. The 2006 vintage quality looks excellent; our red wines show great depth, flavor concentration and velvety tannins, even at this early stage in their development.”
We quickly brought the hand-harvested grapes to our winery in half-ton bins to minimize crushing. We then destemmed the clusters, maintaining more than half as whole berries to maximize fruitiness. For gentle extraction of varietal character and color, we cold soaked the must for two days before the two-week fermentation. Aging in oak barrels from forests in France, Hungary and America added complex nuances of caramel and vanilla. Four traditional rackings clarified and developed the wine, and then we bottled it without fining.