The 2015 Pahlmeyer Merlot has deep ruby color in the glass. Aromas of red fruit, crushed raspberries and jam mingle with notes of orange-spiced tea and blueberry muffin. On the palate, a rich entry turns soft and plush, with bright red fruit supported by balanced acidity. This is a juicy wine, with satisfying depth and length.
Blend 96.5% Merlot, 2.5% Malbec, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon
James Suckling 96 Points
Wine Enthusiast 95 Points
Robert Parker 94 Points
About Pahlmeyer Winery
A trial lawyer by trade, Jayson Pahlmeyer was captivated by the idea of a Napa Valley wine of such exquisite quality, complexity and prestige that it would rival the best of Bordeaux, specifically Château Mouton Rothschild. This historic estate had, at the time, recently been elevated to Bordeaux First Growth classification. This inspired Jayson’s insatiable thirst for adventure and reaffirmed his belief that Napa could be elevated to iconic status. Jayson’s dream of creating a “California Mouton” was born.
By 1986, storied Napa Valley winemaker Randy Dunn composed the first Pahlmeyer wine, Proprietary Red. This Napa Valley Bordeaux blend was crafted from French-sourced clones of five red Bordeaux varieties that Jayson had planted in 1981. Anointed 94 points by Robert M. Parker, Jr. upon its release, the 1986 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red launched Pahlmeyer’s astonishing track record of acclaim. Visionaries that helped define and shape the prestige of Napa Valley, like Helen Turley, Bob Levy and David Abreu, added to Pahlmeyer’s legacy of success.
Today, Pahlmeyer wines are crafted through a steadfast commitment to the principles of site, discipline and high quality of First Growth Bordeaux coupled with the signature richness, power and depth of Napa Valley. Pahlmeyer wines are built on a foundation of extraordinary mountain vineyard sites and confident, discerning viticulture choices that demand maximum flavor intensity.
Led by the diverse expressions of exclusive high-elevation mountain sites, including Stagecoach Vineyard, Pahlmeyer Estate Vineyard and Rancho Chimiles, these wines offer exquisite structure, balanance, tension and finesse. Under the leadership of winemaker Katie Vogt, meticulous attention is paid in the vineyard and cellar to allow the highest, clearest expression of the site to shine through. With an eye toward long aging, Pahlmeyer’s hallmark intensity and power is crafted through an impressive barrel program and artful blending of each small lot.
The Pahlmeyer collection features three coveted Napa Valley wines: the iconic Proprietary Red and our classic Chardonnay and Merlot. In vintages of exceptional quality, Pahlmeyer crafts three exclusive and highly allocated wines: Pièce de Résistance Cabernet Sauvignon, Raison d’Etre Cabernet Sauvignon and Savoir Faire Chardonnay. For more than 30 years, Pahlmeyer has continued to live up to the original audacious dream — craft world-class wines of exceptional distinction, power and finesse.
Defined by Mountain Fruit
Jason Pahlmeyer understood that making wines with exceptional concentration, complexity, and ageability required venturing to extremes. That’s what drew him to the rugged parcel of vines on the ridgeline of Atlas Peak that would become his iconic estate vineyard. That is why, more than 35 years later, Pahlmeyer remains defined by mountain fruit, possessing the soulful character born of demanding terroir and exacting fieldwork.
More hours of sunlight lead to greater ripeness and complexity.
Vineyards above 1,400 feet—such as our Water’s Ranch, Stagecoach, and Antica parcels—typically benefit from three more hours of sunshine per day compared to lower altitudes that are often cloaked in morning fog. This additional sunlight ensures the berries achieve a deep, rich color and complex flavor compounds.
Cooler temperatures result in more complete phenolic ripeness and greater fruit intensity.
With daytime temperatures averaging 5-10 F cooler, our mountain vines respire less acidity to produce energy; the acidity retained in the grapes results in greater freshness and balance in the wines. Cooler temperatures also prolong the growing season, allowing the clusters to hang longer on the vine and achieve optimal flavor development. Our Rancho Chimiles parcel, while slightly lower in elevation, sits close to the San Pablo Bay and enjoys cooling afternoon breezes that moderate temperature.
Low-Fertility, low-vigor soils yield smaller berries with greater concentration.
Thinner, rockier, poorer, and better-drained high-elevation soils naturally stress the vines, reducing yields by generating fewer shoots with limited clusters and smaller, thicker-skinned berries. The higher skin-to-juice ratio brings higher acidity, more tannin, and greater flavor concentration.
We farm responsively for balance and depth.
Farming our mountain parcels vine-by-vine, we can achieve a careful balance between broad structure and phenolic maturity. Dramatic mountain terrain challenges us with various slope grades, sun aspects, and microclimates. Through meticulous fieldwork, we optimize hang time and reach optimal ripeness, moderating Brix levels (e.g., 26.7 Brix for Cab and 24.5 for Chardonnay) so that our wines possess focused fruit and tremendous finesse.
We vinify gently for honest and vivid expression.
From vine to barrel, we handle the fruit with extreme care. We hand harvest, block by block only when each vine has reached optimal ripeness. The fruit, picked before sunup when skins are cool and firm, are gravity-fed to tank. Throughout the fermentation process, we employ little to no pumping, extracting juice gently with a basket press and bottling unfined and unfiltered to retain the purist, most eloquent expression of the wine.