This special bottling is the focused expression of one Merlot vineyard—the Las Amigas Vineyard in the Los Carneros region of Napa Valley. The influence of cool breezes from the San Francisco bay gave this Merlot its bright, yet rich, flavors. Cold soaking the destemmed grapes accentuated the wine’s fruitiness, while barrel aging married oak spices with Merlot’s velvety flavors. Braised lamb with caramelized onions, roast turkey or duck with cherry sauce, or grilled steak smothered in mushrooms are great pairings.
Appellation: Los Carneros
Las Amigas Vineyard is located in the Los Carneros American Viticultural Area (AVA) in the southern reaches of Napa Valley, closest to the San Francisco Bay. Here, the unique, well-drained soils and cool marine climate ripen Merlot grapes slowly, allowing for full flavor maturity and supple tannins. The vines are trained with vertical shoot and cluster-positioning for maximizing sun exposure in the rolling, windswept Carneros hills.
Napa Valley’s spectacular 2007 harvest got off to an early start in mid-August with the earliest ripening varietals, and then ripening slowed to an end in early November. The valley’s famous night fog kept grape acids bright while the sunny days developed rich, ripe flavors. The moderate summer and fall temperatures kept the vines from becoming water stressed in this lower-rainfall year, while providing long hangtime for fully mature, concentrated flavors.
We hand-harvested the Merlot clusters into half-ton bins to minimize crushing and then quickly transported the fruit to our winery. We then destemmed the clusters, maintaining approximately 60 percent whole berries to maximize fruitiness during fermentation. For gentle extraction of varietal character, we cold soaked the partially crushed berries for two days before the two-week fermentation. Aging in predominantly new French and Hungarian oak barrels wove vanilla and toasty oak nuances through the lush, silky flavors.