Napa Valley, California
This Merlot is brawny, with a distinctive mouth feel and structure, like a Bordeaux from St. Emilion.
Our 1996 Napa Valley Reserve Merlot is from the heart of Napa Valley, an area best known for its big Cabernets. This Merlot fits that style…brawny, with a distinctive mouth feel and structure, like a Bordeaux from St. Emilion. As with the best of French Merlots, this one is blended with a bit of Cabernet Franc to broaden and lengthen the finish, then aged for 3 years in French oak. "This wine, now 28 years old, has flavors that only exist in long aged wines." - Winemaker Robert Rex
PJ and I opened a bottle of the 1996 Merlot last night with some friends. This is an old cork so we used the Ah-so cork puller to gently extract the cork. It came out in one piece although it was quite soft and soaked up more than half way. The wine has been stored on its cork so there was a fair amount of sediment on the cork. We wiped the inside of the neck with a rolled up paper towel. We then decanted it slowly while showing a flashlight through the neck to watch for sediment. This technique is used to ensure the least amount of sediment goes into the glass. Surprisingly, there was very little sediment!
The color was much more red and less garnet than I would have expected. It shows less age than its years. There was a bit of "bottle stink" but it blew off in less than 5 minutes to reveal a varietal true Merlot nose laced with a bit of leather. Wow! The nose never faded. The flavor was spectacular! It was deep, complex, spread across the palate filling every corner, like it had Cabernet in it. The small amount of Cabernet Franc was the secret. It lifted the flavors and gave them a longer finish. There was nothing off, nothing out of place. This wine, now 28 years old, has flavors that only exist in long aged wines. It was perfect.
The first half we drank by itself over conversation about what we were tasting. The second half we had with thin crust baby pizzas with Chanterelle mushrooms, foraged from our forest the same day, shallots and roasted red pepper sauce. This 28 year old is true tasting experience!
Wine held back in small quantities for additional barrel aging
95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc