Grapes sourced from the Oak Knoll and Los Carneros AVAs, in the cooler, southern half of Napa Valley.Whole-berry fermentation and cold soaking enhanced the rich fruit expression, while a portion of new French oak barrels added complexity. This Merlot elegantly complements poultry or red meats roasted with caramelized vegetables, or lasagna layered with mushrooms and sausage.
Appellation: Los Carneros, Oak Knoll
Winemakers Chris Cooney and Tom Rinaldi chose Merlot from vineyards in the Oak Knoll and Los Carneros American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) of Napa Valley, which have especially favorable conditions for this Bordeaux-heritage grape varietal. The Merlot grown in the Oak Knoll AVA gives the wine rich, ripe flavors and softer texture, while the cooler Los Carneros AVA—closer to the San Francisco Bay—contributes bright acidity. The different soil types found in the two appellations also contribute to the wine’s myriad of complex flavors.
The 2008 growing season presented its fair share of challenges for California’s winemakers, yet this Cabernet Sauvignon proves that Napa Valley was blessed—once again—with many truly remarkable wines. Although spring frosts reduced yields and the temperatures during the growing season vacillated between hot and cold, there were enough ideal days to develop grapes with amazing aromas and flavors and ripe tannins. We hand harvested these perfectly balanced Malbec clusters at dawn in mid-October, when the grapes were still cool from the night.
We quickly brought the hand-harvested grapes to our winery and destemmed the clusters, retaining 60 percent 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 primary fermentation. Malolactic fermentation was conducted in barrels. We choose a portion of new barrels to give enticing complexity to this generously fruity Merlot. The wine was gently clarified with four rackings during aging and then bottled without fining.