Merlot Napa Valley 2016
About This Wine
On the nose: Lavender, lilacs, leather, grenadine, gravel, underbrush, fresh mushrooms, unlit cigars
On the palate: Juicy, well-balanced entrance, bright acidity lingering on notes of dark cherry, 90% dark chocolate, fresh strawberry, orange peel, Campari, hint of eucalyptus, beef jus finishing on long, granular, structured tannins
Blend: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Fermentation: 75% barrel fermented, 25% stainless steel tank fermented
Aging: 22 months, 100% French oak; 80% new, 20% 1-year-old
2016 was a near-perfect growing season thanks to ideal weather conditions, giving Napa Valley another winner in a string of historic vintages. Spring budbreak came early due to dry and relatively warm soils from a drought winter. There was a slight carry-over effect of that advanced timing in producing a low flower count and lighter fruit set (fewer potential grapes and smaller clusters at maturity). However, the thinner grape population was actually beneficial as it focused the vine’s potential flavor energy on fewer bunches. Minimal heat spells and consistently cool nights across the summer months allowed the clusters to ripen slowly and evenly while protecting their vitally important natural acidity.
We began harvesting our reds on Sept. 8. Two heat spikes in 10 days then forced us to accelerate picking across the Valley, and we finished our final passes in mid-October, just as the first significant fall rainstorm arrived. To illustrate the flurry of vineyard activity for our team, although we started picking some vineyards a month later than we did in 2015, harvest ended at the same time. 2016 in general produced a very clean, concentrated crop load, the kind of grapes a winemaker prays will be delivered to the crush pad. These wines will almost certainly be able to rival the best vintages of the last decade.