Whole-berry fermentation and cold soaking enhanced the rich fruit expression, while barrel aging added toasty oak nuances. Merlot grapes sourced from the Los Carneros and Oak Knoll AVAs, in the cooler, southern half of Napa Valley. The relaxed, high-quality 2012 vintage fostered exceptionally rich, ripe flavors with impeccable balance. Textbook Napa Valley. Aging in French, American and Hungarian oak barrels softened the tannins as it added toasty oak spice.
Appellation: Los Carneros, Oak Knoll
Aging: 22 months, 43% French Oak, 33% American Oak, 24% Hungarian Oak (30% New Barrels)
Varietal Composition: 97.0% Merlot, 1.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1.0% Cabernet Franc, 0.5% Malbec
Our 2012 Provenance Vineyards Napa Valley Merlot shows off the nearly ideal vintage with abundant black cherry, wild plum and blackberry character. “This wine is intensely fruit-driven with an enticing savory edge,” says Winemaker Trevor Durling. “Nuances of dark chocolate, aromatic bergamot tea and bay laurel add complexity to the aromas and focused, mouth-filling flavors. The wine’s core of vibrant acidity brightens the finish, making it very food-friendly.” Chicken roasted with red peppers and onions; grilled lamb kebabs with ripe heirloom tomatoes, basil and burrata cheese; roasted duck with cherry sauce; and mushroom-stuffed ravioli are among our winemakers’ favorite pairings.
We choose 81 percent of the Merlot grapes from Los Carneros and 16 percent from the Oak Knoll American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) of Napa Valley. Both of these regions have especially favorable conditions for this Bordeaux-heritage grape varietal. The Merlot grown in the cool Los Carneros AVA—closer to the San Francisco Bay—contributes bright flavors and acidity, while the Oak Knoll AVA gives the wine rich, ripe flavors and softer texture. We also selected three percent from Calistoga and Rutherford AVAs. The different soil types and meso-climates found in these appellations add to the wine’s myriad of complex flavors.
The relaxed, high-quality 2012 harvest was a winemaker’s dream. The ideal growing season—well-timed rains, no frost during budbreak, and perfect weather for bloom, berry-set and ripening—was textbook Napa Valley. Long stretches of sunny days coupled with foggy nights gave our 2012 wines exceptionally rich, expressive flavors and impeccable balance. We had no weather pressures, from either pending rains or excessive heat, to rush the harvest. Instead we had the luxury of waiting until the grapes reached absolutely perfect maturity.
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.