2019 Marilyn Meritage
The rich scarlet-garnet hues and the complexity of aromas in this wine immediately speak to the strength of another wonderful harvest in 2019; for those of us lucky enough to ripen the fruit before the smoke issues we had near the end of harvest.
In the nose, one is attracted by the aromas of dark cherries and plums with a pleasing cedar earthiness and baking spices. The lush round entry on the palate leads to a well-structured, full mouthfeel as one would expect in a top Meritage. Added notes of currants with a hint of cacao make this a wine that is at once enjoyable but that will reward the patient consumer with the added complexity that will be gained with years of aging.
The Cabernet Sauvignon, the predominate variety in the blend from the Calistoga AVA in Napa Valley, gives this wine great structure and fruit. The blending of over 20% Malbec, a Bordeaux variety that does so well in much smaller plantings in Napa Valley, has deepened the color even more and added a silky texture to the already rich mouthfeel.
Aging is done in 60-gallon French Oak barrels. We use a mix of barrels to give a wider array of aromas and flavors. We like to use as much new oak as possible, as there is a mouthfeel that new oak imparts on young wine that even a 1-year-old barrel does not give to the wine. Most of the barrels we use are what is called a chateau barrel, which has thinner staves, versus the more standard export barrel, with thicker staves. This gives the wine a little more interaction with oxygen during the aging process which imparts a little more balanced feel on the palate. In both the Cabernet and the Meritage, we use 50% or more new oak as these are both bigger bodied wines that are suited for more new oak without the fruit being overpowered, but nicely complimented. The wines are aged for 18-20 months in these barrels. We rack (pumping from barrels to stainless steel tanks and back to barrels, allowing a little Oxygen to pick up), 2-3 times in the first year of aging to soften and balance the tannins. And usually once again in the second year but being careful not to pick up any appreciable amount of oxygen.
STORY OF THE LABEL:
During a 1954 photo session in Milton Greene's New York studio, Marilyn tried on a white cotton dress. The fit was far from perfect, but somehow the shot was, as Marilyn is stunningly open, vulnerable, and sensuous.