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K&L Staff Recommendations
92 points Vinous: "Shafer's 2013 Merlot is wonderfully fresh, brisk and nuanced. Sweet red cherry, plum, mint and expressive spice notes are all pushed forward. This open-knit, fleshy Merlot should drink well for the next handful of years. Shafer is one of Napa Valley's best oiled machines. Year after year the wines deliver the goods in a rich, sumptuous style that defines the very essence of contemporary Napa Valley at its very best. The 2012s are terrific, but Shafer really shines in 2013 and 2014, two vintages in which the wines have a bit more energy and delineation t ...Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Benefiting from a larger percentage of Three Palms Vineyard fruit than ever before, this majority Merlot also holds Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. The result is a density of rich, soft and spicy red fruit supported by structured tannins. This is ready for the table and a wide range of pairings." (12/2015) 90 points James Suckling: "A fresh style of Merlot with light chocolate and blueberry character. Medium body, firm tannins and a crisp finish. Food matcher." (7/2015) K&L Notes: This Merlot-dominated blend reminds us why Duckhorn earned its reputation as one of Cal... Read More »
From the Winery; 2013 is considered one of the finest growing seasons ever in Napa Valley. We could not have asked for better with outstanding spring weather followed by an ideal summer and a harvest with grapes displaying a wonderful balance between ripeness and structure. The grapes were grown in the winery’s Estate Vineyard in Rutherford and select vineyards throughout Napa Valley.This velvety, lush, mouth-filling Merlot has aromas and flavors of blackberries and plum that are ex-pertly balanced by oak nuances and a hint of mocha. The Cabernet Sauvign... Read More »
Winemaker's Notes: "Aromas of ripe blood plums and cherry intertwine with subtle, well-integrated notes of oak. This medium-bodied wine is soft and subtle on the palate with flavors of plums and cherries at the forefront, leading to a lifted, aromatic finish that displays a distinct freshness."
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "Benefiting from a larger percentage of Three Palms Vineyard fruit than ever before, this majority Merlot also holds Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. The result is a density of rich, soft and spicy red fruit supported by structured tannins. This is ready for the table and a wide range of pairings." (12/2015) 90 points James Suckling: "A fresh style of merlot with light chocolate and blueberry character. Medium body, firm tannins and a crisp finish. Food matcher. Drink now." (7/2015) 90 points Wine Spectator: "Focused and deeply structured, with bold blackberry and cedar aromas and fla ...Read More »
97 points James Suckling: "This continues to be a benchmark for Napa merlots for me with soft and velvety tannins, earth, mushroom and meat character. White truffle too. Unique nose. Full body and a juicy, long, long finish. Drink or hold." (7/2015) 93 points Wine Spectator: "An unapologetically plump and flamboyant style that offers pure pleasure. Blackberry and spicy toast aromas lead to rich, complex flavors of black cherry and mocha, with a hint of dry herb. The finish lasts forever. Drink now through 2020." (11/2014) 90-92 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Good red-ruby. Slightly jammy aromas of dark berries, chocolate and graphite. Sweet, plush ...Read More »
93 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Cellar Selection* From one of the best-known sites for the variety in the Napa Valley, this wine shows classic Merlot-structure, with an almost dusty quality to the well-integrated and resolved tannins. It discloses a density of red fruit that remains in balance with its more rugged minerality, remaining soft on the palate throughout. Drink now through 2025." (12/2015) K&L Notes: "Duckhorn's Three Palms bottling is one of the oldest and most consistent Merlot vineyard designations in California..." wine critic Steve Heimoff wrote in the Wine Enthusiast a few years b... Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "This bombastically brawny Merlot is blended with Syrah and Malbec. The grapes have been sourced from some fine vineyards, including Hudson, Stagecoach and Antica, as well as the cooler Trefethen in Oak Knoll. Juicy blackberry veers into syrupy territory, a thickness that never lets up, accented in smoky oak and vanilla" (9/2015) K&L Notes: Thorn is a new bottling from winemaker Jen Beloz, who wanted to do something special and reverent with Napa Valley Merlot. The grapes are sourced from small, well-established plots of Merlot that managed to survive the extensive re... Read More »
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice* Smooth and palate-coating, it’s 100% varietal, with just the right balance between blackberry and black cherry fruit, and barrel-induced flavors of toffee, toasted macadamia nuts, and café crème." (7/2014) 91 points Wine Spectator: "Polished and supple, with ripe flavors of red berry and dark cherry. Almost syrupy in intensity, this is balanced with mineral nuances and buffed to a sheen on the finish. Drink now through 2019." (11/2014) Jancis Robinson: "Pleasantly juicy, blackberry fruit. Slightly smoky on the finish. Well made, easy-going, liquorice and Worcestershire sauce on the fi ...Read More »
One of the Napa Valley's most famous Merlots, this bottling comes from the Paloma Vineyard and includes between 14-16% Cabernet Sauvignon, depending on the vintage. The wine is aged in one-third new and two-thirds used French oak barrels for 18 months. The results are incredibly ageable, with black fruit, tobacco, spice and chocolate notes as a common thread vintage after vintage.
94 points Wine Enthusiast: "*Editors' Choice" Made with 75% Merlot with the rest Cabernet Franc, this wine commands attention with aromas of dried and fresh herbs, black fruit, toast and flowers. The dark fruit flavors are rich, layered and tightly coiled, captivating attention with spot-on balance." (11/2015) 91 points Wine & Spirits: "Dark fruited and vinous, with a plum-skin chewiness and plenty of ripeness, this mostly-merlot blend has light tannins and a Right Bank grace that feels elegant. Pour with braised beef." (10/2015) 91 points Wine Spectator: "Builds good tension between the ripe cherry and savory herbal flavors, which are se ...Read More »
Winemaker notes: "This medium-bodied Merlot delivers aromas of spice and blackberry, with a perfect balance of earth, cocoa and ripe cherry flavors with a rich, velvety finish."
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A cross-Napa Valley blend, the 2012 Merlot is their largest cuvée, and is composed of 85.2% Merlot blended with other Bordeaux varietals. Only 21% new oak is used, so the fruit component dominates. A dense plum/purple color is followed by notes of chocolate, berries, tobacco leaf, forest floor and mocha. (RP)" (10/2014) 90 points James Suckling: "A round and simple Merlot with plum, chocolate and olive character. Full to medium body, velvety tannins. Grows on you. Drink and enjoy." (7/2015) Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star* Nicely defined, black cherry fruit sits in the starring role here even if the wine i ...Read More »
96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Pahlmeyer's 1997 Merlot may be the finest Merlot ever produced in California. A profound blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, it offers gorgeous smoky, black cherry liqueur aromas mixed with melted fudge. The wine is unctuously-textured, super-concentrated, low in acidity, rich, and multilayered. This is a spectacular, hedonistic effort to drink over the next 15-20 years." (12/2000) 93 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Saturated ruby-red. Explosive aromas of black raspberry, cassis, graphite, tar, minerals and toffee. Lush, superripe and very deep, with almost confectionary sweetne ...Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "Smoky tar and plum highlight this approachable wine that’s straightforward in focus and intent. Meant for enjoying now, it stays firm and flavorful in the glass, finishing without a fuss." (9/2015)
91 points Wine & Spirits: "Good Merlot can often seem workmanlike, this one satisfied to hit fragrant notes of ripe cherries with clarity. It’s not pushed, and though there’s oak present in the tannins, it frames the fruit well." (6/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "Combining estate grapes with others from cooler Carneros, this wine offers a dried herb component and plenty of pencil and cedar. Tannic and oaky before airing, it’ll benefit from a decant." (9/2015)
92 points Vinous: "The 2012 Merlot Estate is an absolute joy to taste. Dark and sumptuous to the core, the 2012 boasts superb richness to match its open-knit, welcoming personality. Plum, black cherry, mocha, sweet herbs, cloves and violets are some of the notes that are laced into the voluptuous, racy finish. Expressive savory undertones are a reminder this is a mountain wine, but the raciness is pure 2012." (7/2015) 91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Made from 100% Merlot and checking in at 13.5% natural alcohol, the 2012 Merlot Estate sports an inky purple color to go with terrific notes of black cherries, ...Read More »
95 points Connoisseurs Guide: "Its aromas may be a touch slow to open, and, even with air, the wine shows a certain restraint to its impeccably focused themes of cherries, sweet herbs and creamy oak, but, once in the mouth, this solid, classically structured bottling shows its true self with deeply cast, well-fruited flavors and plenty of mass and bottom. It is extracted without being tough, and its youthful, tailored tannins never get in the way of its lingering fruit. Its impressions of proportion and careful balance guarantee more and better to come with age, and we would strongly ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Lastly, the 2013 Merlot is a beauty. Rich, concentrated, fleshy and fat, this wine from their own vineyard displays plenty of berry fruit, judicious use of toasty oak and a long finish. This is sexy, plump and succulent. Drink it over the next decade or more. (RP)" (12/2015)
91-93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013 Merlot (15.2% alcohol, along the lines of 2012) has a vivid black cherry nose and blue fruits in the background. One can see the greatness of this vintage in its purity, inky/purple color and wonderful freshness aligned to great ripeness. Wow, this should turn out to be quite special. (RP)" (10/2014) 93 points Vinous: "The 2013 Merlot is dark, powerful and also quite tannic, all signatures of the vintage. Black cherry, mocha, graphite, plum, smoke, licorice and menthol are bold and intense in the glass, but the 2013 is only showing a hint of its potential. Far from ...Read More »
97 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 1996 Merlot (3,000 cases) is a worthy rival. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, this blend of 93% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Franc tips the scales at a heady 14.6% alcohol. Could it be better than the 1997? The wine is opaque black/purple-colored, with a knock-out nose of plums, black cherries, chocolate, raspberries, licorice, and toasty new oak. Viscous in the mouth, with superb purity, this is a riveting, mind-boggling Merlot that sets a new reference point for this varietal in California. It can be drunk now, but has the potential to last for 15 or more ...Read More »
92 points Wine & Spirits: "John Williams grows one of the most gracious merlots in Napa Valley, a succulent pleasure with plenty of flavor detail. It has the spiciness of smoked meats, cherry bark and fresh herbs. A supple, chocolaty red to serve with a beef filet." (2/2015) Vinous: "Frog's Leap's 2012 Merlot is a delicious, intriguing wine laced with an attractive combination of dark red cherry, plum, earthiness, tobacco and game. A distinctly savory wine, the Merlot offers lovely depth and complexity in a medium-bodied style that is ideal for near-term drinking. (Antonio Galloni)" (8/2015) Wine Enthusiast: "T ...Read More »
This Merlot-dominated blend reminds us why Duckhorn earned its reputation as one of California's preminent sources for Merlot. The 2012 vintage, with its long hang time, was perfect for making a rich, seamless, structured wine. Winemaker notes: "From its aromas of Santa Rosa plum, creme de cassis, violet and Herbes de Provence to its enticing flavors of olallieberry, sticky toffee and vanilla bean, this is a complex and compelling expression of Napa Valley Merlot."
94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A blend of 100% Merlot that saw 60% new French oak, the 2012 Merlot Northridge Vineyard is a plump, rounded, sexy Merlot that's loaded with notions of blueberry, violets, plums and graphite. It's hard to resist, and I see no reason to delay gratification either. As usual, this was a massive lineup by Washington's wild man, Charles Smith. Despite the larger-than-life persona, these wines are dead serious and are always some of the best I'm able to taste from the state. All of the Rhone varieties see 100% whole cluster, native fermentations and aging in m ...Read More »
From the Winery; The 2012 Merlot is medium dark ruby in color with clean aromatics of ripe plums and cherries layered with light touches of spice and sweet French Oak notes. Truly a yummy Merlot across the mouth it is soft and silky, truly a seamless wine. Nice purity of flavors here with an exciting flavor profile, lively but with a nice finish. I love the mouth feel and ripeness we were able to get from our vineyard in 2012. This is an easy wine to love. 96% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Sauvigon, 1% Petit Verdot
92+ points Robert Parker: "Unlike the majority of Merlots in the marketplace, Switchback Ridge’s 2004 Merlot Peterson Family Vineyard is the real deal. Wonderful scents of chocolate, roasted coffee beans, black cherries, and plums soar from the glass of this dense ruby/purple-colored offering. Opulent, full-bodied, and chewy with sensational texture and purity, it is a fleshy, succulent Merlot to consume over the next decade." (12/06) 92 points Wine Spectator: "Rich and deeply structured, with blackberry, toasty oak and spice aromas leading to ripe, den... Read More »
From the producer: "The nine-acre Suscol Ranch vineyard is located in Jamieson Canyon, south of the city of Napa. The area is very cool, with dense fog early in the season and windy conditions all year long. The vines are planted on a gentle, north-facing knoll of deep, loamy soil and are cordon trained to give the grapes maximum sun exposure. The cool conditions allow the fruit to mature slowly, gracefully developing flavors and mature tannins."
90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2001 Merlot (a 6,354-case blend of 94.3% Merlot and 5.7% Cabernet Franc) exhibits fragrant aromas and flavors of espresso roast, coffee beans, smoke, chocolate, and loads of berry fruit. Dense plum/ruby in color with a hedonistic personality, this is a heady, full-bodied wine ... This is a top-flight single-vineyard wine aged completely in French oak, which is in total contrast to the wines made at Silver Oak. (RP)" (2/2005) 90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Dark red. Flamboyant, sexy aromas of black raspberry, blackcurrant, chocolate, coffee and smoked meat. Lush, broad and full but q ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
92 points Wine Spectator: "Dark-colored, rich and chocolaty, with tightly wound layers of currant, blackberry, mocha and spice, ending with chewy tannins and cedary oak. This is a pumped-up Merlot with lots of richness, depth and concentration." (9/2005) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The dense plum/ruby/purple-hued 2002 Merlot offers a smoky, earthy bouquet revealing notions of chocolate and ripe blackberries. Medium to full-bodied, chunky, and tasty. (RP)" (2/2005) K&L Notes: Scarcely 200 cases of this 2002 Merlot were produced from a very low-yielding block on Pritchard Hill. Loaded with ripe plum, clove, and sweet oak-spi... Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Sleek and supple, with notes of succulent cherry, cedar and fresh herb. Drink now through 2017." (10/2014)
94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "I do not believe it is an exaggeration to say that Pahlmeyer's Merlot is now the finest being produced in California. One might quibble over other styles of Merlot, but no producer achieves more complexity, flavor, and thrills per sip than Pahlmeyer. The 1995 Merlot is an awesomely-endowed, full-bodied, pedal to the metal style of Merlot with great richness in addition to a knock-out nose of blackberry, raspberry, mocha, and smoky aromas that soar from the glass. The wine has a sweet attack (from its formidable glycerin and extract level, not sugar), ful ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Fruity, grapey, berry jam and espresso, light body, developed tannins and long finish. 36 months French oak.
90 points Wine Spectator: "Impeccably balanced, with rich, vibrant, intense currant, fresh earth, black cherry and blackberry fruit that's well-focused. The tannins and cedary nutmeg-laced oak add a firm edge on the finish. Best to cellar short-term or decant." (12/2005) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "An elegant, soft, velvety example of Paloma, with a deep ruby/purple-tinged color, attractive notes of caramel, mocha, sweet cherry and berry fruit, this 2003 Merlot is round and medium-bodied with no hard edges. (RP)" (12/2005) Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright red-ruby. Complex nose combines plum, cherry, raspberry, chocolate, flowers and loa ...Read More »
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Although this winery has been around since 1944, I am unfamiliar with its wines. Packaged in an interesting bottle with a label sporting green ink, this 2012 Merlot is made in an explosively rich, blockbuster style. Its opaque purple color is accompanied by oodles of blackcurrant and black cherry fruit intertwined with hints of espresso and chocolate. Full-bodied and super-rich, but not overly extracted or astringent, this beautifully made, full-throttle, pedal-to-the-metal Merlot should wine the hearts and minds of many California wine enthusiasts. It i ...Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Supple and well proportioned, with earthy currant, cedar, spice, coffee and anise flavors, turning elegant and polished on the finish." (9/1999) K&L Notes: 92 points Robert Parker: "The 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon Bancroft Ranch may possess an even more saturated, thicker, black/purple color than the 1995. Some tannin has emerged since I tasted it last year, when it was far more velvety. This is a powerhouse, extremely full-bodied, palate-staining wine. Its enormous extract, richness, and elevated tannin seem to suggest this wine is about ready to settle down for a long ... Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "(blended with a bit of petit verdot, malbec and cabernet franc) Good ruby-red. Cassis, black raspberry, licorice and menthol, with a floral lift from the cabernet franc. Sweet, concentrated and densely packed, with berry and licorice flavors complicated by some exotic spices. A big, chewy wine with firm tannic structure and very good grip. Tony Soter noted that his merlot bottling contains no cabernet sauvignon, and vice-versa." (5/2005) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Etude has fashioned a dense ruby-colored 2002 Merlot. It offers rich aromas of mocha-infused black cherries intermixed w ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
Intriguing notes of milk chocolate, wild berries and hints of roasted coffee beans lead to a medium-bodied entry filled with mocha and black cherries. Well balanced and structured, the tannins are ripe, round and mouth coating without being dry. Complex layers of raspberry liqueur, café au lait, black plum and cassis are supported by hints of roast and brown spices.
Inventory: Main Warehouse
Connoisseurs Guide: "(17% Cab. Franc; 5% Cab. Sauvignon; 3% Petit Verdot). If a little less rugged and a little more open than young Duckhorn Merlot typically is wont to be, this latest offering from one of the Napa Valley's premier makers of the variety is well-ripened and inviting with a frontal mix of juicy cherries and sweet oak. It gets a slight bit gruff at the finish, but its tannins are never out of bounds, and a few years of cellaring should provide it with all the polish that it needs." (4/2001)
Inventory: Main Warehouse
More than a pretty villa, Ferrari-Carano farms 1,400 acres of their own vineyards across Sonoma County, from the bottomland near the Russian River to some of the highest peaks above Alexander Valley, with their own full-time crew and no-expense-spared. Good value in Sonoma County Merlot. "The cool climate, valley-floor vineyards produce supple, fruit-forward wine, while the mountaintop vineyard fruit lends intensity and structure. Upon entering the winery, the hand-harvested grapes are destemmed, cold soaked for five days and then fermented in tank befor... Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
91 points Wine Enthusiast: "An herbal, 100% Merlot from a nine-acre ranch in Jamieson Canyon, just south of the town of Napa, this wine is steeped in sage, cinnamon and dense, smoky leather. Soft tannins lend succulence and warmth, while the finish is marked by notes of tobacco and toasted oak." (3/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Merlot Suscol Ranch is named for the indigenous American Indians that once lived in Napa Valley. The wine shows chocolate and tangy acidity with a dense ruby/purple color, good mocha and black cherries in a medium-bodied format. It is not the most complex Merlot, but it is s ...Read More »
Wine Enthusiast: "Sourced from the winery’s estate vineyard, this bottling presents a compelling depth of earthiness, a stony, rocky sense that gives it a savory edge. Tobacco and tea surround ample plum and blueberry. The wine is approachable and soft, with tiny percentages of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot." (9/2015)
Inventory: Main Warehouse
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "With 14.3% alcohol, the 1997 Merlot Three Palms Vineyard's dense ruby/purple color is followed by a seamless, fleshy wine with additional power and flavor dimension. Full-bodied, pure, long, and well-balanced, this impressive Merlot possesses the most texture of any Duckhorn offering produced over the last two decades. (RP)" (12/2000) Wine Spectator: "Firm, rich and concentrated, with a tight core of currant, anise and black cherry, turning elegant and sophisticated. (JL)" (9/2000)
Inventory: Main Warehouse
91-93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2013s are all strong efforts displaying inky colors, great precision and ripeness, sweet tannin and an even stronger intense core of fruit than one finds in the terrific 2012s. The 2013 Merlot Blue Line is even better, richer and fuller than the 2012. 2012 was the first vintage for Hourglass’s new winemaking consultant, Tony Biagi, whom I got to know well while he was making wines at Plumpjack winery. Hourglass produces a line of Blue Line wines, which are less expensive. The Blue Line cuvées come from vineyards situated close to the Three Palms and ...Read More »