The grapes come from a stony vineyard just south of Calistoga in northern Napa Valley. In the 1800s, the Three Palms site was the summer home of Lillie Hitchcock Coit, who gave the famous landmark Coit Tower to San Francisco. Filet of beef with Merlot sauce, veal loin stuffed with wild mushrooms, leg of lamb and grilled pork are a few pairing suggestions. Drink now.
Barrel Aging: 19 Months, 100% French Oak (50% New)
Varietal Composition: 77% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3.5% Petit Verdot, 1.5% Malbec
Production: 1,367 cases
The 2006 Provenance Vineyards Three Palms Merlot comes from a stony vineyard where vines struggle and root deeply to find nutrients and water. The result is an intense, firmly structured Merlot chock-full of sweet, dark red fruit. The lively aromas and expansive flavors reveal a core of cherry and strawberry character, with notes of cola, mineral and anise spice. This classic Merlot’s exceptional balance and silky texture carry the rich fruit flavors through a lingering finish. The fine-grain tannins promise age worthiness. Winemakers Tom Rinaldi and Chris Cooney blended the Merlot with several Bordeaux-style varietals to add layers of flavor complexity.
We call Three Palms Vineyard the “hillside vineyard in the valley.” The soil is full of volcanic cobblestones that have been washed down from Dutch Henry Canyon in northern Napa Valley. They radiate heat, giving this mesoclimate warmer evenings than other areas in the Napa Valley, and contribute to the unique conditions that foster small-berried Merlot clusters with exceptional color and flavor concentration. Primarily planted to Merlot, this 74.5-acre vineyard also has a substantial number of acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec, giving us the opportunity to blend other varietals for complexity, yet retain a single-vineyard designation.
“It was a long and rewarding harvest, perhaps—with all due respect for 2001—the best of the decade so far,” says Cooney. “Vine balance (leaf-to-fruit ratio) was more consistent in 2006, promoting slow, even fruit ripening and a relaxed harvest. Berry size was smaller than average, leading to highly structured wines. The 2006 vintage quality looks excellent; our red wines show great depth, flavor concentration and velvety tannins, even at this early stage in their development.”
At dawn, we hand harvested the Merlot clusters into half-ton bins to minimize crushing and then hand sorted the fruit twice at the winery. We destemmed the clusters, maintaining 60 percent whole berries to maximize fruitiness, and then cold soaked the must to gently extract flavors and color. Following fermentation and extended maceration, we aged the wine in French oak barrels.