Carneros Merlot

My love for Carneros Merlot is well-documented on these pages… I truly believe the BEST representations in California come from down there. Oakville has emerged of late as a SERIOUS contender–especially as Carneros has more and more become almost mono-identified with Pinot & Chard. Nickel & Nickel Suscol Ranch was a stand-out (they have since moved to Oakville), Ceja, old Cuviason (keep begging them to bring it back–as they still grow a bit), Duckhorn and even BV Maestro are all notches in my Carneros Merlot lipstick-case. I jump at the opportunity to taste these wines, and when Identity told me they had one… well, you know the rest.

Medium garnet in the glass, with considerable sediment. I’m a bit surprised by the bricky countenance of a wine this young. Rosy and full in the nose, without going full-throttle in any one direction. Rich, round and very ripe cherry *teeters* on flabby, with considerable tertiary manipulating the bouquet: gorgeous velvety berry, fruitcake spices and sweet vanilla again reflecting a wine I would probably add another half-decade to blind. But zero oxidation or signs of fading fruit: a common occurrence in older CA examples of this variety. Decanted.

In the mouth, the acidic fire of youth burns brightly, the fruit presenting a wholesome attack of raspberry and pie-cherry defying the rich polish in the nose. Well-balanced and concentrated, strong shrubby briar and the bitter glories of black walnut and leathery rhubarb bringing earthy nuance to its savory texture. Spicy tingle hints at heat, but more of a peppery coating to the rasp of chalk: a dry, mineralific orange-twist rimming the middle and finish. Aggressively tannic: an impression of structure indicating many years to go, though the color and patina of fruit *might* suggest against it. Still: I don’t see it fading anytime soon, but–like ALL Merlots–would be something to keep an eye on in the cellar, as this variety singularly holds the title for most “Man, I should have dranken that 5 years ago” of anything in MY years of collecting.

Merlot is a true 1%-er’s grape, as we are immune to fads and pop-culture stigma. My favorite BDX variety, and this is a stellar example: packed with chunky fruit and tannin. Find it.

2018 IDENTITY Merlot Carneros Napa Valley 14.5

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