Napa, CA- This famous vineyard designated wine is smooth with a silky texture. The aroma exudes bountiful layers of strawberry, raspberry and cherry, accented by black olive, almond, and spice. The flavors mirror the lush and layered bouquet with abundant red fruit and cedar notes.
It’s the quality and reputation of Napa Valley wine that inspire crowds of tourists to visit Napa Valley wineries dotting Highway 29, nestled between the Mayacamas mountain range to the west and the Vaca Range to the east.
Despite its limited acreage, Napa Valley is a diverse growing region with many microclimates and varied soil types. Over the 30 miles from the cool San Francisco Bay north through Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena and Calistoga, the average temperature can increase 10 percent. So cool-weather varieties like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir thrive in Carneros, at the southern end of the region; warm-weather grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc fare better in the north.
Winemakers love Merlot grapes because they are easy to grow and quick to ripen. Casual wine drinkers appreciate that Merlot wines can be soft and approachable, with delicious dark fruit flavors. In Merlot blends, the grapes add a moderating influence, providing measured tannins, soft texture, medium acidity and medium alcohol. Accordingly, Merlot balances the more rustic and herbaceous qualities of Cabernet Sauvignon, a frequent blending partner.
Merlot can also make complex, full-bodied and concentrated wines with grippy tannins and aging potential. Many connoisseurs consider the best Merlot wine to come from Bordeaux’s Right Bank, where the varietal predominates in wines from St.-Émilion, Pomerol and other renowned appellations. Merlot is also blended to excellent effect with the other red Bordeaux varieties, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.