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. Spicy lamb meatballs, roasted duck with cherry sauce, chicken thighs grilled with red peppers and onions, and steak with mushrooms are a few delicious pairings. Aging in French and Hungarian oak barrels softened the tannins as it added toasty oak spice.
Appellation: Los Carneros, Oak Knoll
Aging: 21 months, 100% Barrel Aged (30% New French Oak, 5% New Hungarian Oak)
Varietal Composition: 100% Merlot
Production: 9,510 cases
“Very aromatic and rich with dried berry and chocolate. Fresh mint. Full body, juicy and fresh. Hints of chocolate and chili. Drink in 2019.” - James Suckling, December 2017
“Black olive marks the opening of this soft, spicy and ripe wine, well integrated in its marriage of fruit, acidity and oak. Full bodied, it holds its ripeness well, showing a lasting balance of clove and dark chocolate on the finish.” - Virginie Boone, September 2018
With impeccable balance and concentration from the 2014 vintage, this Napa Valley Merlot opens with deep aromas of ripe cherry layered with crushed black pepper, licorice and an alluring nuance of purple iris. Hints of mocha and hazelnut from oak aging meld with the varietal and terroir expression. The wine’s focused entry turns to a beam of saturated, dark fruit flavors that fan out across the plush, voluminous palate. Mouthwatering acidity gives length to the flavors and a lift on the finish, while supple tannins frame this generous Merlot and give it cellar worthiness.
We chose 85 percent of the grapes from Los Amigos Vineyard in the Los Carneros and 15 percent from the Oak Knoll American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) of Napa Valley. The Merlot grown in the cool Los Carneros AVA—closer to the San Francisco Bay—contributes bright flavors and acidity, with a hint of black pepper, while grapes from the Oak Knoll AVA gives the wine rich, riper flavors and softer texture.
Dry, early and shaking is how 2014 will be remembered in Napa Valley, yet it had a silver lining with small, concentrated berries and high quality. February’s rains brought the total rainfall up from low to adequate levels, helping to relieve three years of drought conditions. Warm temperatures promoted early budbreak in spring and accelerated grape maturation. Just as harvest began, a dramatic 6.0 earthquake shook Napa Valley awake on August 24; Provenance was fortunate to come through unscathed. We finished the very compact, plentiful harvest by mid-October and celebrated the vintage’s “ripened to perfection” grapes.
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, with frequent stirring to develop rich texture. After completion of this second fermentation, we racked the wine off the lees and then continued barrel aging for 21 months.