2006 Napa Valley Merlot
California: Napa Valley
There is something very special about this wine. It shows great fruit, both on the nose and on the palate, but it was the overall balance that really captivated us. Earthiness provides a wonderful counterpoint to the fruit. Plush tannins balance against the initial softness. Lively acids provide seem to frame everything in a way as to make this lovely wine feel complete. A very food friendly wine with tons of flexibility, we can’t think of many foods that this wine would not work with. We paired ours with a wood oven pizza, with prosciutto, arugula and spicy red peppers. This pairing was a delicious treat, with the wine providing a tasty, between-bites cleanse. This 2006 Saddleback Cellars Napa Valley Merlot, which comes, in large part from the winery’s own Estate vineyard, is highly recommended.
Darkest ruby hues, with a deeper and darker heart. As with the former vintage of this wine, a fine ring of bright red ruby encircles the wine. After swirling, skinny, wine-colored tears move slowly down the glass.
Heady and full on the nose, a big rush of jammy blackberry, raspberry, red plum and black currant leap from the glass. These are closely followed by leather, soft spice, dried fall leaves, blueberry, black cherry and hints of subtle cocoa, sweetwood and anise.
Dark mixed blackberry, black cherry, black plum and cassis step out in front. As the wine settles onto the palate, it reveals cherry candy, dried leaves, soft leather, toasty oak, soft spice and a hint of minerality.
Very long and full of dark fruit throughout. Gradually, the fruit fades and is replaced by spice and earthy characteristics. At the tail end, a soft, mineral dryness is accompanied by a hint of black pepper.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
The Merlot was sourced from grapes grown from our Oakville estate, where we have one and one-half acres planted, and blended with grapes from the Truchard vineyard in Carneros, Napa as well as the Galleron vineyard in Rutherford, Napa Valley. We feel this wine is a classic style worthy of distinction as a blend from the best of three Napa Valley vineyard sites.
FERMENTATION AND AGEING: After the grapes were put through the crusher/de-stemmer, the must was inoculated with cultured Montrachet yeast. Fermented at an average of 85 degrees Fahrenheit, the sugar to alcohol conversion was completed within eight days in stainless steel tanks. The must was pumped over at least three times daily to enhance color, flavor and tannin extraction from the skins. After two rackings the wine was transferred to hybrid American/French oak barrels, 50% new oak with 50% second fill. The wine underwent its own malo-lactic conversion in the barrel over an 18 month ageing period.
CHARACTERISTICS: A hedonist’s dream! This delicious, concentrated wine has aromas of black currants, ripe plums, dark cherry licorice, and cocoa. It has a silky full bodied entry on the palate, with tamed/controlled tannins, plenty of sweet oak, and a luxuriously long finish. With proper storage, this wine will age admirably for ten years, however, we feel it is drinkable now. Great with a juicy T-bone steak.
: 100% Merlot
: We handpicked 6.39 tons of Merlot from October 24th-October 27nd, 2006.
Ageing and Cooperage
: 18 months in 50% new French, American, and AO/FO hybrid barrels
: 26.2 Brix
: 0.60 g/100ml
: 3.5 units
About the Winery
Here at Saddleback Cellars, we take every step to assure the highest quality wines from grape to bottle. Our goal is to produce wines that are true to their varietal and place; we limit production to only five to six thousand cases a year to further our goal of making truly hand-crafted wines of the highest quality.
Winemaker/owner Nils Venge and Lars, our assistant winemaker, use traditional winemaking techniques to assure well balanced wines that are easy to drink young and, with the proper cellar conditions, age with grace and beauty.
Winemaker Nils Venge
Born to Danish immigrants, Nils’ exposure to wine came at an early age: his parents operated a wine and liquor import and distribution company in Southern California. Nils continued his pursuit of wine at the University of California in Davis where he earned a BS in Viticulture in 1967.
Following graduation he moved to the Napa Valley to pursue his interest in winemaking. In the subsequent years, he worked for notable wineries, such as Charles Krug, Sterling, Villa Mount Eden and Groth. During his tenure at Groth, Nils became the first American winemaker to receive a perfect 100 point rating from Wine Critic Robert Parker Jr. for the 1985 Groth Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, which catapulted him to a venerated position in the California wine industry.
Saddleback Cellars is a small winery located off dead-end Money Road in Oakville, California. We sit at just about the 50-yard line of the valley.
Our vineyard comprises a total of 14.8 acres where we grow six varietals. As it is, 8.4 acres are planted in Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.9 acres in Chardonnay, 1.75 acres in Merlot, 1.1 acres in Pinot Blanc, 0.3 acres in Pinot Grigio and 0.3 acres in Zinfandel.
All of our grapes are hand-picked and rushed right to our onsite crush pad where we begin the winemaking process right away. Come see the action between late August and late October of each year.