This 2016 Napa Valley Merlot is one of the best in recent vintages and invites you into the glass with elegant dark aromas of black cherry, ripe plum, cherry compote and toasty brioche pastry. On the palate, there is a broad structure with textured flavors that are plush and full but with grace and elegance interwoven, supported by the fresh acidity.
We sourced the majority of grapes for this wine from Calistoga, Rutherford and the Los Carneros American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) of Napa Valley. The diversity of soils and mesoclimates in these regions, as well as of clones and cultivation techniques, contribute to this wine’s layers of flavors. Grapes from our estate vineyards in warmer Calistoga contribute juicy, dark-fruit and chocolate expression, while our vineyards in the cooler Los Carneros give bright berry notes. Rutherford vineyards, near our winery in the center of the valley, added plum while enhancing the wine’s silky tannin structure.
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.
After the grapes were crushed, we fermented the must in stainless steel tanks until dry. Gentle pump-overs during fermentation extracted flavor, deep color and tannins from the skins. We then pressed and transferred all the wines to small oak barrels coopered with French, Hungarian, and American oak to develop and integrate flavors. Following barrel aging, we blended the Merlot with a small amount of complementary varieties to enhance its structure.