With freshness emphasizing its southern Napa origins, the 2015 Merlot combines dark juicy black cherry and macerated strawberry fruit with light floral violets side-by-side subtle hints of caramel, cinnamon, clove and tobacco spice savoryness, imparted from the oak ageing. The generous fruit flavors, polished structure, refreshing acidity, present tannins and plush texture show just how elegant Merlot can be.
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, 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 season helped to balance the acidity in each varietal and added additional complexity to the layers of flavors. This resulted in wines with outstanding concentration and flavor.
Our Napa Valley Merlot is crafted with grapes from vineyards in the southern part of Napa Valley (south of Gamble Ranch in Yountville). Fruit from Oak Knoll makes up the majority of the Merlot blend, with the remaining fruit sourced from the Stags' Leap estate and Oakville. Merlot can lose its varietal identity when exposed to too much heat, but the fruit from these select southerly vineyards exhibit 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 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: 86% Merlot, 6% Petite Sirah, 5% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot, 2% Mixed Red : 14.5%Cases Produced: 25,000
For Christophe Paubert, Winemaker and General Manager at Stags’ Leap Winery, the identity of a wine is found through the terroir. Christophe’s career has spanned the industry from sales to winemaking, and his impressive background includes positions at Chateau d’Yquem and Gruaud-Larose as well as projects in Chile, Spain and Washington State. But it was the terroir of Stags’ Leap that drew him to California.
|Oak Treatment||100% French oak (35% new) for 18 months|
|Blend||88% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petite Sirah, 1% Mixed red varietals|
|Case Production||38700 cases|