Calistoga has long been famous for its Merlot production and Larkmead gladly continues that legacy. Historically a multi-variety blend, Firebelle has the soft, plush texture of Merlot, but with some added structure from its companion Bordeaux varieties. Merlot at Larkmead, planted on rich loam soils full of clay and gravel, also tends to act a bit like Cabernet. Knowing this, the wine is allowed to express its density, weight, and power while maintaining its attractive aroma and flavor profiles.

This wine pays homage to the legendary firefighter - patroness of all San Francisco firemen - philanthropist, and original winery owner Lillie Hitchcock Coit who also happened to name Larkmead. The famous Coit Tower in San Francisco also has the honor of being named after her as the city’s tribute. Firebelle Lil’ left San Francisco and Napa Valley a considerable legacy when she died in the late 1920s.

In the 2013 firebelle, we blend cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot to help accentuate the merlot’s ripe, blue plum skin aromas and berry character while providing accompanying floral and cola notes. These aromas are bright but tightly woven into themselves; however, with time in the glass, there is a pleasant hint of loam soil on the nose that brings the wine back to earth. In the mouth we find the characteristic expansiveness of the vintage - a broad, mouth coating textural component that is dusty with a hint of cherry and bittersweet chocolate. The tannins wrap gently around a blueberry core that has subtle tones of sassafras.

The 2013 growing season was perfect to extract the densit y and power of merlot - two characteristics that are not often associated with the grape. In this bottling, the wine is comprised of more merlot than we have ever put under cork and we are thrilled that the wine has taken this path. Contrary to popular belief about merlot’s subtlety, this is an aggressive wine and will withstand 20+ years of cellaring. However, i’d like to revisit this wine in 3-5 years as the energy in the wine is wrapped up in its youth.