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.
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.
Deep and saturated with a core of blueberries, black plum, black cherry, lavender and pepper spice, this wine displays an extraordinary elegance and finesse for which our Petite Sirahs are known. The generous black plum and black cherry flavors are prominent on the palate, yet backed up with delicate cinnamon, clove and cedar spice notes from the oak ageing. There is also a freshness and vibrancy that makes it very inviting with restrained tannins and a generous lengthy finish, encouraging you to enjoy it now, but has the depth and complexity to age for many years to come.
Grapes from the vineyards located on our estate’s deep, rocky soils make up the backbone of this Napa Valley Petite Sirah. Carefully selected fruit from both northern vineyards in Calistoga and St. Helena and southern vineyards in Oakville, Oak Knoll and Coombsville are added to intensify and broaden the wine’s profile to include floral, spice and fruit characteristics. Petite Sirah is a varietal that is enhanced by the deliberate diversity of our vineyard sites.
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 low yields, resulting in wines with outstanding concentration and flavor, making the overall season ideal for producing a Petite Sirah of wonderful quality.
Continuing the same time-honored techniques that have made Petite Sirah one of our winery’s staples, Winemaker Christophe Paubert practiced simple and traditional methods to show the uniqueness of the Petite Sirah fruit. Avoiding over extraction, the wine went through a relatively short maceration period (9-12 days on average) that included fermentation, and two of these lots were co-fermented with Viognier to reinforce the floral character of the Petite Sirah. The wine aged for 12 months in American oak barrels (25% new), allowing the spiciness of the oak to complement the natural spice character of the varietal. The final blend included small amounts of Syrah, Grenache, and other mixed Rhone varietals to bring further complexity to the finished wine.
The inviting bouquet expresses aromas of delicate orange blossom, citrus fruits, fresh white peach and subtle hints of sandalwood and cedar (a nod to the well-integrated French Oak) which fill the glass and pique your interest in this crisp Chardonnay. On the palate, you’ll find a refreshingly vibrant Chardonnay with layers of lemon citrus, passion fruit, guava and gooseberry, while also maintaining an elegant roundness in texture that is balanced (hinting at the delicate battonage lees stirring that occurs during the winemaking process). With well-integrated vanilla and caramel oak notes and a flinty minerality on the finish, this wine is full, rich and bright, yet generous in style and maintains freshness due to its acidity, which creates a Chardonnay of lovely complexity and depth.
The grapes for our Napa Valley Chardonnay were sourced from the cooler southern appellations within Napa Valley, where fog from the San Pablo Bay helps to cool the vineyards throughout the growing season, allowing for ideal preservation of freshness and acidity. The majority of the fruit comes from the Carneros AVA which provides citrus, mineral, and crisp apple notes, with a smaller percentage coming from the Oak Knoll AVA, which contributes more tropical and stone fruit characteristics. These vineyards consistently produce Chardonnay ideal for our style of winemaking with fresh fruit flavors and bright acidity and vibrancy.
Our Napa Valley Chardonnay is gently whole-cluster pressed, in order to preserve the fresh, floral aromatics naturally occurring in the fruit. Twenty-five percent of the wine is fermented in stainless steel and remains in tank until the final blend is assembled. The winemaking hand remains light, with twenty-five percent of the wine fermented and aged in new French oak barrels and the remaining fifty percent in seasoned French oak. This specific barrel treatment helps preserve the essential purity of the fruit while adding subtle notes of oak complexity. The 2016 vintage, as usual, did not undergo malolactic fermentation, which helps to further maintain the fruit’s natural acidity and aromatic freshness. The wine was bottled after just six months of maturation with a weekly battonage, putting the yeast lees in suspension in order to release subtle aromatics, increase the mouthfeel, and prevent reductive qualities.
Overall, 2017 proved to be a very memorable vintage with slightly smaller yields but exceptional quality. After much needed rainfall in the winter months ended the drought, a brief period of warmer than usual temperatures occurred during Labor Day weekend which accelerated the harvest in some areas but was perfect for ripening the fruit in the Napa Valley. Temperatures subsided just when we needed, and the fruit was allowed to mature and ripen perfectly on the vines before harvest officially began in mid-August. 2017 will be remembered as an intense and unpredictable harvest but one of tremendous quality, with wines showing great flavor intensity, perfect ripening and maturity, lovely balance and complexity, especially for varieties like Chardonnay.