1997 Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Merlot
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Phelps' Merlot program is coming of age. Approximately 10% Cabernet Sauvignon is included in the blend, and the wine is aged in primarily French oak with a touch of American. About 30% of the barrels are new. The beautiful 1997 Merlot boasts a dense ruby color in addition to an attractive bouquet of berry fruit infused with smoke and mocha. This full-bodied, rich Merlot has a fat, succulent, plush texture, and a chewy, heady finish.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Ruby-red. Aromas of black raspberry syrup, tar and menthol, plus a meaty nuance. Fat and sweet, with flavors of crystallized black cherry, dark berries and toasty, spicy oak. Ripe acidity gives this rather large-scaled merlot good balance. Finishes with ripe, even tannins. A Bordeaux-styled California merlot that's more than simply fruity.
Winemaker Craig Williams has made a full-volume, snappy wine with piercing berry aromas that announce its bigness.