Whole-berry fermentation and cold soaking enhanced the rich fruit expression, while barrel aging added toasty oak nuances. 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: Calistoga, Stags Leap District, Yountville, Oak Knoll
Barrel Aging: 21 months, 100% Barrel Aged (35% New French Oak, 5% New Hungarian Oak)
Varietal Composition: 89% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon
Production: 2,900 cases
This Napa Valley Merlot opens with a bouquet of red and black berry fruit aromas. Not a wimpy Merlot, this wine is very expressive with tons of ripe black cherry, raspberry, cassis and bramble berry fruit layered with hints of cola, milk chocolate, graham cracker and sweet baking spice notes – all influences from the oak aging integrating perfectly with the varietal and terroir expression. The wine’s plushness invites you in to discover the rich, ripe berry fruit flavors that glide across the pleasing palate. Mouthwatering acidity gives length to the flavors and a nice lift that carries through on the finish, while supple tannins frame this generous Merlot and give it cellar worthiness and a beautiful structure.
We sourced most of the fruit from estate vineyards in Calistoga (65%) followed by grower produced vineyards in the Stags Leap and Yountville appellations (25%) as well as a small percentage from the Oak Knoll bench (10%). The Merlot grown in the warmer Calistoga region within the northern part of the Napa Valley gives the wine rich, riper flavors and a softer texture, while grapes from the slightly cooler Stags Leap, Yountville and Oak Knoll districts contributes brighter red fruit flavors and acidity, with hints of black pepper and spice.
Although in 2015 we received three-quarters of our normal rainfall, the cumulative effect of four years of drought in Napa Valley resulted in a light crop. However, the vintage made up in grape quality what it lacked in quantity. The small crop and dry, warm conditions promoted an early, condensed harvest that kept us hopping. At Provenance, we began picking in mid-August and wrapped up the crush by mid-October. We were rewarded by balanced wines with highly concentrated flavors.
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 5-6 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.