Established in 1893, Stags’ Leap Winery is one of the oldest wine estates within the acclaimed Stags Leap district, producing wines expressive of its unique terroir. With an enduring winemaking philosophy of minimal intervention, and by using the finest grapes from our own 80-acre vineyard and from quality-focused growers, Stags’ Leap wines embody a natural balance, exhibiting both intensity and finesse.
The 2011 Napa Valley Merlot is at once complex and approachable, opening with generous aromas of dark plum and bright red fruit, with enticing hints of clove and cinnamon throughout. Juicy red fruit flavors are effortlessly integrated with notes of caramel and savory spice that contribute depth to the polished palate. Smooth, velvety tannins and a refined texture give this Merlot a distinct level of sophistication while still being very approachable in its early years.
The Napa Valley Merlot is crafted with grapes sourced from vineyards in the southern part of Napa Valley. Fruit from Oak Knoll makes up the majority of the Napa Valley Merlot, with the remaining 30% of fruit sourced from vineyards in the neighboring appellation of Yountville. Because Merlot can lose its varietal identity when exposed to too much heat, the fruit from these southern Napa vineyards exhibit fresh fruit character, structured body and bright acidity.
The 2011 vintage began with a wet winter and spring that delayed bloom and disrupted fruit set, resulting in lower yields in many parts of Napa Valley. While cool temperatures delayed vine development by several weeks throughout the valley, our Merlot vineyards matured at an even pace and showed normal ripeness by Harvest. The grapes for the 2011 Napa Valley Merlot were picked before the October rains and remained unaffected by the autumn storms.
The grapes for this Napa Valley Merlot underwent a 2-3 week maceration period designed to extract ideal flavor, color and tannin from the skins. Using traditional winemaking techniques, Winemaker Christophe Paubert aged this Merlot in high quality French oak barrels (35% new) for 16 months. This deliberate lesser percentage of new oak imparts structure, ageability and a slight spice complexity to the wine that still allows the fresh fruit flavors to take center stage.
Varietal Composition: 89% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Malbec, 1% Petite Sirah