First of all, let me say there is literally NO ONE in California raised on the Merlot sweet-tooth who is gonna like this wine. This thing deviates into areas FAR beyond those shallow meanderings of chubbiness and oak polish. If you drink Emmolo–even Nickel & Nickel or Duckhorn–you will mono-brow on this wine, as it pushes a platform of classic right-bank rigidity most Americans will see as *awkward*. I’m actually kinda shocked–pleasantly shocked–but surprised. This wine is NAILS, neither bowing to the extracted jam-gods OR the deviations of French oak massage. Searingly brilliant–this is a 15-year Merlot–despite its near-30-proof placement, but runs the risk of many California versions of this variety with advanced cellar-age: of becoming a *donut wine*, hollow of center, while retaining plentiful entry grip and finish structure. None-the-less, THIS person is gonna stash a few, as the classic persona dictates.

Dark ruby, fading barely to slight garnet at the rim. Decanted heavily. Heady rich berry and some heat approach the nose, softened considerably from a couple hours of air. The vanillin of French oak makes an appearance, ground down into grating citrus mineral and vague Christmas spice. Tight and closed-in, carefully releasing grip on expression.

Complexity of fruit plays a see-saw battle with acidity and alcohol in the mouth. Entry awash in sharp briar and citrus, chalky abrasiveness progresses into spice and heat over the middle, where layered revelations of dark cherry, licorice and cola protrude. Finish stupendously tannic, nearly obliterating fruit in black-walnut and peach-pit grasp. This is a wine which will send the 99 reeling, and while I would love to see it marked a full point lower in ABV, it’s a preservation-point and vintage-expression I can’t pick apart. A ridiculous nod to Bordeaux–with barely a California kiss.

2017 SILVERADO VINEYARDS Merlot Mt. George Vyd. Coombsville Napa Valley 14.9


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