Mission Codename High on Chiles
In the 80s and the 90s, Caymus Vineyards opened the eyes of wine connoisseurs to a Napa Valley red style that was infinitely complex with fine-grained tannins that combined elegance and approachability at an early age. Prior to that era, most of Napa’s famous ‘big reds’ all delivered in the brawn and depth departments while requiring years of cellar time to be truly enjoyable. The JDB project is a spin-off from the Caymus family that truly dials into that classicism, particularly with the Cerro labels that showcase top Napa Valley vineyards. If you enjoy blue chips such as Caymus, Silver Oak, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Robert Mondavi or Joseph Phelps, this Cerro Merlot will genuinely overdeliver for its – for one day only on Wine Spies – rarely seen sub-$25 price. Close your eyes, sit back and sip away to a time when the Napa lifestyle was instituted by its forefathers.
An alluring deep crimson fades gently to the broad garnet rim, hinting at extended barrel age. A much fresher whiff reveals blackberry, blueberry, and plum, dancing on Tahitian vanilla, rose petal floral notes and exotic sweet spices. Aromas of black cherry and blackcurrant get coated on the palate by layers of dark chocolate and sweet espresso. The echoing finish delivers impact and texture through silky-soft sweet tannins, inviting for another sip. This would be the ultimate red for an elaborate picnic with grilled Gruyère and pastrami on rye or a lavish pasta salad.
Winemaker Derek Beitler is Caymus founder Charlie Wagner’s grandson and his wines are truly worthy of the legacy. While he collaborates with his cousin Joey Wagner on the Carne Humana label, with Bodega Rancho and Cerro, he’s the sole proprietor. He believes that the Nichelini vineyard that sits above 1,000 feet elevation authoritatively over Napa’s cool Chiles Valley in the Vaca Mountains, is the perfect site for Merlot to fully ripen while holding onto its freshness thanks to the major swing in temperature in the cold, cold nights up there. This red of great complexity and heritage is a world-class Merlot and for the value it brings would put many Cabernet to shame in blind tastings. See for yourself and shock your “I don’t drink anything but Cabernet” friends!
What the Winery Says
2013 'Cerro' Napa Valley Merlot
- Derek Beitler
- Chiles Valley, Napa Valley
- 100% Merlot
- 36 months in old French oak
- 9 barrels