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
Barrel Aging: 21 Months, 100% French and Hungarian Oak (40% New)
Varietal Composition: 100% Merlot
Production: 363 cases
For centuries, wine lovers have been intrigued by the ability of some wines to become more complex and softer with time. We tasted the Provenance 2008 Las Amigas Vineyard Merlot in February 2015 and found lovely, more mature notes developing on the nose and palate. Now, hints of leather, cedar forest and cigar box are beginning to grace the rich black cherry and plum aromas. Toffee and oak spice nuances from aging in French and Hungarian oak barrels have become even more beautifully integrated. The opulent-textured, dark-fruit flavors reveal hints of fig and dark chocolate. Yet, this wine is still alive with vibrant, balanced acidity—reflecting its origin of Las Amigas Vineyard located in the southern, coolest tip of Napa Valley.
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.
The 2008 growing season presented its fair share of challenges for California’s winemakers, yet this Merlot proves that Napa Valley was blessed—once again—with many truly remarkable wines. Although spring frosts reduced yields and the temperatures during the growing season vacillated between hot and cold, there were enough ideal days to develop grapes with amazing aromas and flavors and ripe tannins.
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.