With freshness emphasizing its southern Napa origins, the 2016 Merlot is a combination of juicy black cherry, macerated strawberries, fig, vanilla and cherry cola. There are also delicate light floral rose petal, cocoa powder, forest floor and sweet baking spice notes, imparted from the oak ageing. The palate is generous and dense with mouth pleasing fruit flavors, polished structure, refreshing acidity, and plush tannins, leading to a lengthy finish, exhibiting a well-balanced wine that shows the true elegance of Merlot.
The extended drought was beginning to cause real concern as the 2016 growing season kicked off, but some welcomed winter rain hinted at the relief to come. After a relatively dry January we enjoyed significant rainfall in February, along with mild temperatures. Bud break was early, but was slowed by heavy April showers. While still early by historical standards, picking began about a week later than 2015, right around Labor Day, and continued at a leisurely pace, allowing the grapes to reach full flavor maturity. A traditionally sized harvest followed the lighter showing of 2015, and the extended mild season helped to balance the acids and add complexity to the layers of flavors. Considered a perfect harvest and a winemaker’s dream vintage, conditions were perfect for producing a Merlot with beautiful fruit as well as tremendous concentration of flavors, highly saturated color, and layers of complexity.
Our Napa Valley Merlot is crafted with grapes from vineyards in the southern part of Napa Valley. Fruit from Oak Knoll makes up the majority of the blend, with the remaining fruit sourced from Carneros and the south part of the Oakville appellation. Merlot can lose its varietal identity when exposed to too much heat, but the fruit from these select southerly vineyards exhibit varietal expressions of fresh fruit character, structure, and bright acidity.
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 18 months. The new oak imparts structure, ageability, and a slight spice complexity that still allows the fresh fruit flavors to take center stage.