2003 Shafer Napa Valley Merlot

SKU #1017360 92 points Wine Enthusiast

 Here’s a Merlot with all the hallmarks of Shafer’s approach to Cabernet. It’s big, ripe, flamboyant, oaky, complex and immediately enjoyable. Cherries and blueberries are the flavors, accented by sumptuous sweet vanilla. The tannic structure is sweetly rich.  (12/2005)

90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The 2003 Merlot was performing beautifully out of bottle. An elegant blend of 85% Merlot and nearly equal portions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, it possesses a refined deep ruby/purple color along with scents of berry fruit, sweet cherries, and hints of smoke and mocha. Drink this lovely Merlot over the next 6-7 years.  (12/2005)

90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Good red-ruby color. Wild aromas of bitter cherry, spice cake, tobacco, meat and leather; conveys a strong impression of soil. Supple, pliant and deep; round but firm. This boasts a lovely sugar/acid balance and firm underlying structure. Intriguing hints of minerals, fresh herbs, leather, tobacco and mint on the long finish. Merlot with real personality, which is hard to find in California.  (1/2006)

90 points Wine & Spirits

 Elias Fernandez offers the gentle side of merlot in this soft, smooth red. The bitter almond savor of the tannins balances the sweet toastiness of oak. There's a vinous flavor at the core, to enjoy with a steak.  (2/2006)

Connoisseurs Guide

 Shafer checks in with all of the ripeness, richness and ready oak that we have come to expect in its wines, and this impressively concentrated, full-bodied effort comes with an extra measure of tannin and heat. It marries the sweet, slightly frontal, cherryish fruit of Merlot with a bit of Cabernet structure, and, while we would argue against pulling its cork straight away, its balance, depth and ample stuffing ensure that it will develop quite well for three to six years.  (11/2005)

Wine Spectator

 Plenty of ripe, rich, concentrated currant, cedary oak, anise and earthy leather notes give this a solid foundation. The texture is a touch grainy and the tannins stick out on the finish. Best to decant.  (10/2005)

K&L Notes

Shafer Vineyards is proud to be a wine industry leader in the area of solar power. In 2004 we became the first winery in the U.S. to make the switch to 100 percent solar power. In 2008 we built a second array to power the vineyard system that we use to irrigate the 50 acres of vines that surround the winery. On sunny days these two arrays produce, at peak, more than 200 kW of electrical power, or in other words, enough to meet the baseload needs of 160 average homes. Going solar is our way of treating the air as well as we treat the land. The generation of electricity is the number one source of toxic air pollution in the US. Most generator plants burn coal and pump millions of tons of greenhouse gasses and toxins into the air. Over the lifetime of Shafer’s system alone (30 years) the greenhouse gasses that won’t be produced on our behalf has the air-purifying effect of planting more than 30,000 trees. In addition, of course, we have eliminated our electricity bill and we actually contribute power to the electrical grid.

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Price: $44.99
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- A very popular red grape variety found in the great wines of St. Emilion and Pomerol. It is the most planted variety in Bordeaux, and it has also become an extremely fashionable red in many regions including California. Although it has a reputation to be smooth, and easy to drink when young, Merlot is also capable of producing extremely intense wines as well. It is often used as a blending agent with Cabernet Sauvignon.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world.


- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year.
Specific Appellation:

Napa Valley

- America's most famous wine region, which encompasses a varied geographical territory running about 20 miles long from the San Francisco Bay northward to the foot of Mount St. Helena. Napa's great diversity, both in terms of climate and terroir, has led to the creation of a number of smaller AVAs like Stags Leap District, Rutherford, Howell Mountain, Oakville and Mount Veeder, among others. Cabernet and chardonnay still reign supreme, but just about everything under the sun is grown in Napa Valley, in quality levels ranging from $2 jug wine to $500 a bottle California cab.