Mission Codename Sorry Aunt Carol
WIA Awards day five. It’s that time of year where we bust out the best, most popular, most re-requested wines of the year. Today we have the top Merlot of the year, an easy pick really. Here’s a smash hit from blue chip Napa all-star Clos du Val.
Surely you’re joking??
A fresh drop from THE Clos du Val?
A pillar in the Napa Valley fine wine scene, founded in 1972. A powerhouse that joined with Chateau Montelena and other California wineries to dominate and win in the Judgement of Paris in 1976. One of the most reliable trusted Napa producers on the map.
Yup, that’s the one… that San Francisco Chronicle defined as “one of the grande dames of the Napa Valley… returning to its roots, focusing on what it does best and making smaller amounts of better quality wines.”
And THAT PRICE!! Did you see it, huh, did you?! No longer $50, no way! You already know how we do.
JEEPERS. You already know Clos du Val has been a force in the industry since Founders John Goelet and Bernard Portet brought it to life nearly 50 years ago. Antonio Galloni’s Vinous recently caught up with the modern-day developments at the iconic winery: “Under the direction of Steve Tamburelli, Jon-Mark Chappellet, and Ted Henry, Clos du Val is in the midst of repositioning itself as a premium winery. Production is down and a focus on quality is up. When it comes to the wines there is not much to say, except that they are superb.”
Simply incredible to have this FRESH released Merlot from the near-perfect 2018 vintage. Wait…what’s that? They still have the 2017 on their website? We have it BEFORE anyone else - at this price?!
This is NOT a wimpy, one-trick pony Merlot that your Aunt Carol drinks. It’s big, burly, rich, and serious - creamy and weighty, with a load of fresh black plum, red raspberry preserves, cigar leaf, and cloves, with some dusty earth mixed in. Fairly pronounced tannins creep in the lengthy finish. While it’s just a baby, and so irresistible right out the gate, it has a long life ahead of it. Assuming you can hold off on draining every bottle. Should you pop one youthful, make it a roast whole heritage chicken night, all dressed in a garlic citrus herb marinade.
Not yet officially released means no scores yet either, yet other recent vintages not as forward as 2018 got big raves, Wine Enthusiast writing that “this estate wine is spicy and darkly brooding in black cherry and plum. Sage and cedar nip around the edges of fruit and powerful ripeness.” While Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate praising “soft, full, rich and seductive in the mouth, it delivers bags of spicy black fruit and a peppery finish…” all identically evident here too.
Maybe it has something to do with the vintage too, one that Wine Spectator rated an earth-shattering 99 points calling it “A spectacular year, with wines that are rich and dark, but detailed, restrained in style and very terroir-driven.”
First, you have to get some. No doubt a mob of thirsty Operatives already started draining the inventory…
And it WILL sell out, that’s nearly guaranteed.
Alluring deep crimson with a rich, nearly opaque molten chocolate-like core
Fresh black plum, red raspberry preserves, cigar leaf, and cloves, dusty earth
NOT a wimpy, one-trick pony but big, burly, rich, and serious - creamy and weighty
Fairly pronounced tannins creep in the lengthy finish that is built like a tall wall
Make it a roast whole heritage chicken night, dressed in a garlic citrus herb marinade
What the Winery Says
2018 Napa Valley Estate Merlot
- Ted Henry
- 93% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Malbec
- Stag’s Leap District, Napa Valley
- Total acidity
- 6.9 g/L
- Harvest dates
- October 1 - 10, 2018
- Bottling date
- June 22, 2020
- 20 months
- 69% new French (49%), Hungarian (10%) and American (10%) oak