Established in 1893, Stags’ Leap Winery is one of the oldest wine estates within the acclaimed Stags Leap District, producing wines expressive of its unique terroir. With an enduring winemaking philosophy that honors traditional techniques while embracing modern capabilities, and by using the finest grapes from our own 80-acre vineyard and from quality-focused growers, Stags’ Leap wines embody a natural balance, exhibiting both intensity and finesse, while bringing forth the inherent qualities of each variety.
This Napa Valley Merlot is a beautiful example of Napa Valley Merlot, showing exuberant dark fruit aromas of briary black cherry alongside spice notes of allspice and ginger. On the palate, there are elements of casis and the mouth-feel is rich with rounded tannins. The structure on the palate is more soft and approachable, with great acidity. A year of aging in European oak barrels added hints of sweet oak spices and dark espresso which are evident on the long finish.
The Napa Valley region enjoyed a stunning, near picture-perfect 2018 growing season including good winter rains, mild spring weather and steady temperatures throughout that allowed for even flowering and bud break. These ideal growing conditions were followed by a cool, even and slow-paced harvest which allowed the winery to vinify wines at a gentle pace. The resulting 2018 wines are of very high quality with lower alcohol, concentrated flavors, color and excellent acidity.
We sourced the majority of grapes for this wine from the original estate vineyard in Rutherford and a little in Yountville from Shiplette Vineyard. These specifically selected blocks along Rutherford bench and western benchland of Napa Valley have very well drained soils which creates just enough stress to allow for smaller yields. The result is smaller berries and a higher skin to juice ratio.
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 Cabernet Sauvignon to enhance its structure.
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