2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon •Merryvale Estate Vineyard
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
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Today’s wine hails from the 2007 vintage, the best vintage on record since 2001, and the only other 96-point vintage sine before 1970!
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Mission Codename: Eat, Drink – and be Merryvale
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Revisit our friends at Merryvale Vineyards, near downtown St. Helena, near the northers end of the Napa Valley. Secure an allocation of their esteemed award-winning 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Merryvale Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemakers: Sean Foster and Graham Wehmeier
Backgrounder: The Wine Spies have been blessed to have had the opportunity to showcase Merryvale’s special wines, since 2007. The wines are consistently superb, and the people behind the wines are a dedicated and passionate bunch, as is revealed in every sip.
Napa Cabernet Sauvignon continues to dominate as the leader in California red wine. For good reason, too, as Napa produces some of the richest and most delicious examples on the planet. Today’s wine is a perfect example of vineyard fruit from the Napa Valley.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deepest dark garnet with garnet ruby that shine at the edges of the wine. The dark core of the wine is dense, but still clear. When swirled, chubby, wine-stained legs slide down the inside of the glass.
Smell – Rich and robust with classic Napa Cabernet aromas that leap from the glass. The wine leads off with black raspberry, ripe black cherry, overripe blackberry and currants. Touches of exotic spice, toasted oak and sweetwoods and dusty cocoa powder also appear, just below the surface.
Feel – Light and round on the initial attack, this wine gradually develops a full-bodied dryness that shows firm and textured supple tannins that merge perfectly with a dark minerality and a well-balanced acidity.
Taste – Generous black fruit including black cherry, overripe blackberry, smoky blueberry and dark ripe plum are the lead flavors. Beneath these, exotic spices and darkly toasted oak and cedar contribute the the tannin structure. Beneath these, toasted vanilla and dark chocolate cocoa notes add complexity.
Finish – Long and rich, with the ripe dark fruit that lingers for a long time, before gradually giving way to fine, drying tannins and a dark minerality.
Conclusion – The 2007 Merryvale Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is an outstanding, exciting and very delicious wine with a ton of character. The wine is big, but restrained enough to make it a very pleasant solo sipper. Approachable and still complex, this wine has an ample nose and big flavors, but the spice, minerals and acidity make keep everything in check. Very inviting on the nose, and with flavors that will find you holding the wine in your mouth for a long time, this is a very interesting and exciting wine to enjoy equally well on its own or with a hearty pepper and herb rubbed steak! This wine gets our heartiest recommendation.
What follows is my original mission report, in which Agent Red first infiltrated Merryvale
Merryvale hosts their own ‘Wine Component Tasting’ seminar every Saturday & Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. The fourth weekend of every month is Merryvale’s ‘Food & Wine Pairing’ seminar.
These events provided me with the perfect opportunity for some close surveillance of this respected winery. I wasted no time and signed up for both, which actually proved to be not only deeply informative from a Wine Spies intel-gathering perspective, but also from a wine drinker’s perspective. The two events were also great fun and the Merryvale winery is amazing!
The Wine Spies strive to have a low impact on the environment, but Merryvale takes this sort of responsibility to an extreme. Wherever possible, The Wine Spies use earth-friendly materials such as pulp wine shippers and recycled packing materials. We drive hybrid spy cars, keep office lights dimmed or turned off during the day and we recycle relentlessly. Merryvale does all of these things – and way more.
On arrival at the Merryvale Vineyards facility, the first thing that I noticed were the seemingly acres of solar panels covering the rooftop of their 60,000 foot building.
Once inside for the morning component tasting, I learned that Merryvale completed the installation of its 277kW solar electric system in 1996, before being green was chic.
The solar array generates enough clean electricity each day to power nearly 80 homes and will spare the air nearly 473 tons of harmful greenhouse gases annually. Over the next 30 years, the air pollution saved will be equivalent to driving over 32 million miles.
The winery’s solar system will provide 90-100% of the winery’s electricity needs on an annual basis for the company’s 60,000 square foot building.
Merryvale’s foremost reason for installing the array is to utilize green energy. This is an effort that we applaud and one that we are happy to be seeing at more and more wineries these days.
The component tasting and the pairing seminar were both exceptional and I recommend these for anyone looking to expand their knowledge of wine. While the winery and the classes were great, far more impressive are Merryvale’s incredible wines.
The Merryvale Vineyards remarkable Starmont facility can be seen in this satellite photo.
Wine Spies Winery Check:
The location of the Merryvale Vineyards Winery in St. Helena, can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
93 Points – Wine Enthusiast
“Just delicious, this wine shows its pedigree from some of the best vineyards in the valley, including Merryvale’s St. Helena Estate. Dry and rich in firm but refined tannins, it offers elaborate flavors of blackberries, blueberries and cherries, while 70% new oak adds layers of buttered toast and caramel.” – STEVE HEIMOFF
92 Points – Wine Spectator
“Firm, intense and vibrant, with a tight mix of loamy earth, dried currant and berry, sage, anise and cedar. Full-bodied, ending with a streamlined, layered finish. Best from 2012 through 2021.” – JAMES LAUBE
90+ Points – Wine Advocate – Robert Parker
“Another winner is the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa which includes 1% Cabernet Franc. It possesses abundant notes of crème de cassis intermixed with a floral underpinning and subtle oak in the background. Rich and full-bodied with a burning ember/smoky component that adds character to the red and black fruits that dominate the wine, this beauty should drink well for 15+ years.” – ROBERT PARKER
About This Wine:
Our ’07 Napa Cabernet is very dark red in color with aromas of currants, black cherry, violets, and cedar along with vanilla and toasty oak. The mouthfeel is generous with fine tannins and a long finish.
About The Winery:
The first winery built in the Napa Valley following the repeal of Prohibition, Merryvale is located in the heart of America’s premier wine region. Graced with a European fountain and formal grounds, the historic winery is ideally located just 1/4 mile south of downtown St. Helena, Napa Valley — adjacent to renowned Tra Vigne restaurant and within easy walking distance of many other restaurants and shops.
In this celebrated home, the spirit of great winemaking thrives in the care of owner Jack W. Schlatter and his son, René Schlatter, Senior Winemakers Sean Foster and Larry Cherubino.
By maintaining the founding vision — To capture the essence of the region’s noble vineyards in rich, complex, supple wines rivaling the best in the world — Merryvale has earned international acclaim for wines of outstanding quality.
How we make wine:
Meticulous, Painstaking, Passionate Winemaking
The essence of the Napa Valley — a verdant parquet of diverse soils and microclimates that is home to some of the world’s greatest vineyards. Merryvale seeks to capture this essence with thoughtful attention to each of the thousand steps along the way to rich, complex, elegant wines.
The process begins with the careful selection of vineyards — by site, by block, even by row — to find the areas best suited to growing of the highest quality winegrapes for the specific varietal. Each aspect of the land — including microclimate, soil type, drainage, degree of slope and sun exposure – is evaluated for its contribution.
Merryvale’s grape purchase agreements include control over vineyard practices. The winemaking team carefully works hand in hand with each grower to manage all aspects of the vineyard — from pruning, irrigation, leaf thinning, hedging, shoot positioning, crop thinning, to the time of harvest.
Balanced crop levels ensure Merryvale’s grapes a greater concentration of flavors at lower sugar levels.
In red grapes, this will also facilitate the more rapid maturation of tannins, translating into rich, round wines with intense aromas and flavors, and more supple tannins.
Harvest time is determined by flavor and tannin maturity, not by sugar level alone. Careful attention is paid to all the grape and vine characteristics that indicate full fruit maturity has been reached. Skin color, absence of herbaceous flavors, color of the seeds, texture of the pulp and condition of the leaves are all important clues in determining stage of development.
Merryvale grapes are hand picked and sorted first in the field and sorted again here at the winery to remove leaves, substandard fruit and over- and under-ripe clusters. To protect the fruit from being damaged or bruised by excess weight during harvest, Merryvale grapes are placed in small half-ton boxes.
BLEND: Cabernet Sauvignon
APPELLATION: Napa Valley
ALCOHOL: 14.5% by volume