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 new French oak barrels added toasty nuances. The cool 2011 vintage gave the wine bright and complex fruit character etched with delicate herbal notes. A great food wine, especially with roasted chicken, duck or turkey; grilled lamb kebabs in pita; spice-rubbed pork loin; or savory mushroom-stuffed ravioli.
Appellation: Los Carneros, Oak Knoll
Aging: 21 months, French Oak, American Oak and Hungarian Oak (30% New Barrels, predominantly French)
Varietal Composition: 100% Merlot
While the abnormally cool 2011 growing season yielded only a small crop, we were rewarded with wines of vibrant balance, elegance and finesse. Our 2011 Provenance Vineyards Napa Valley Merlot shows off the vintage with an elegant core of black cherry and plum surrounded by nuances of dark chocolate and aromatic bay leaf. A bright streak of wild cherry enlivens the palate, and then the silky flavors fan out into a lengthy finish. Aging in French, Hungarian and American oak barrels softened the tannins as it added a kiss of toasty oak spice.
We choose Merlot 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 add to the wine’s myriad of complex flavors.
For the second consecutive year, Napa Valley experienced one of the latest harvests on record, following a cool growing season. A wet winter and spring continued into mid-June, causing some shatter during bloom and smaller crops in many vineyards. While the steadily cool temperatures caused periods of anxiety for winegrowers and winemakers alike, our Merlot proves that the vintage produced many excellent quality wines with well-developed varietal flavors and outstanding balance.
We quickly brought the hand-harvested grapes to our winery and destemmed the clusters, retaining 60 percent as whole berries to maximize fruitiness in the wine. 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 during aging to round the acidity. We choose 30 percent new barrels to give enticing oak spice complexity to this generously fruity Merlot. The wine was gently clarified with four rackings during aging and then bottled without fining.