Red fruits, easy tannins and a soft finish are the characteristics of Merlot wine. But there’s more to Merlot than being smooth. Merlot can be a bit of a chameleon, depending on how the varietal is vinified and as a result of the climate where it’s grown. When done right, a true wine lover will have a hard time distinguishing very high quality Merlot from Cabernet Sauvignon, which is what makes them such ideal blending partners. This particular vintage of Merlot from the Stags Leap Winery, one of the oldest in all of Napa, is a Cabernet drinker’s Merlot.
2012 was a great harvest year in Napa Valley, and although the grapes for this wine come from different locations in the valley (not the venerable Stags Leap District as the name would imply), it is stellar and won high marks in our Nice Winery tasting panel. Winemaker Christophe Paubert is a masterful vintner and this Merlot is one of our favorites that he has ever made.
Rich and velvety, it has aromas of black and red cherry right up front. On the palate the love affair continues with hints of baking spices, black currant, cherry, cranberry, pomegranate, and plum with notes of caramel and cinnamon that are interlaced through the long finish. Paubert says “The wine has depth and nuance with smooth tannins and a lush, lovely texture.” Indeed it does.
We would pair this wine with hearty beef dishes, casseroles, steaks, and strong cheeses like Gorgonzola or Blue.