2015 Mayacamas Merlot Mount Veeder
Region: Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley
The most famous American wine region, and one of the most highly regarded in the world. The first grapes were planted here, northeast of San Francisco (with a climate influenced by an arm of San Francisco Bay), in the mid-19th century; one of the earliest commercial wineries, Charles Krug, still in operation, was founded in 1861. Wineries proliferated in the late 19th century and, after a downturn during Prohibition, the Napa wine scene continued to expand. The so-called "Paris tasting" (later renamed "The Judgment of Paris") in 1976 — in which a panel of French wine experts rated cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay from the Napa Valley higher than their famous and far more expensive French counterparts — brought international renown (and higher prices) to the valley's wines. While these remain the two most widely grown grapes in Napa (the cabernet is particularly highly regarded), scores of other varieties are planted and do well here. There are now at least 450 wineries in the Napa Valley (700 or so in Napa County as a whole), from modest warehouse facilities to multi-million-dollar showplaces mimicking European castles, and the area has become a major tourist attraction.
Mayacamas Merlot remains one of the purest expressions of the varietal produced in America today - always made with restraint to express the more serious side of the grape. In the glass, the nose explodes with macerated raspberries, fresh cherry, green cardamom and anise. Sleek and structured, the palate shows juicy berry, pomegranate, fresh thyme and tarragon. As is typical with this bottling, Mayacamas Merlot generous both in texture and acidity. After fermentation in cement tanks, the 2012 Merlot spent 24 months in neural oak – a combination of large-format foudres and used barrique – before bottling.
94 James Suckling
The subtle berry, tobacco and fresh-herb aromas are very attractive. It’s full-bodied with soft and round tannins that are chewy and focused. Rich, flavorful finish. A beautiful, traditional red that shows its mountain origins. Drink or hold
It’s a straight up dream to see a Merlot from California at 13.5% alcohol. This wine is pricey, and a true expression of the grape, so if you like big wines from Cali this may not be for you. What you get is a soft, vibrant, soulful red wine. The acidity is so bright that it floats on the palate, and with such balanced alcohol you get the full merlot experience without burning your nose hairs. It is a wonderful pairing for lean meats like grilled chicken or filet mignon - even a skirt steak. This is the way wine once was from here and should be again