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.
With freshness emphasizing its southern Napa origins, the 2015 Merlot combines dark juicy black cherry and macerated strawberry fruit with light fl oral violets side-by-side subtle hints of caramel, cinnamon, clove and tobacco spice savoryness, imparted from the oak ageing. The generous fruit fl avors, polished structure, refreshing acidity, present tannins and plush texture show just how elegant Merlot can be.
After three years of plentiful harvests, the 2015 vintage resulted in a less abundant crop, but the quality remained exceptional. The mild, dry spring conditions promoted an early bud-break and minimal heat during summer allowed the fruit to ripen at a steady pace through picking, which began a few days earlier than 2014. The drier-than-normal conditions contributed to the smaller berry size and lower yields, resulting in wines with outstanding concentration and flavor. Despite all this, the overall 2015 vintage was ideal for producing an expressive and structured Merlot, resulting in wines with more concentration.
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.