Coming Soon: the 2016 Napa Valley Merlot

September is officially here and you know what that means:

the next round of big reds from MTGA are almost here!!!

Over the next week and a half we will be doing a little sneak peek on the three, count ‘em THREE, new releases that will be making their way into the world at the end of the month.

To kick things off let’s dive into more detail on our flagship, the 2016 MTGA Napa Valley Merlot.

We did touch on this particular vintage briefly during our 10 year retrospective tasting but there is so much more to share! 2016 was an incredibly balanced growing season. We did not see any early or late rains and had very little temperature fluctuation. It was amazingly consistent from bud-break to harvest. In essence mother nature tee’d it up nicely for us. The biggest challenge was going to be not getting in the way.

Four years earlier in 2012 we saw a very similar situation. Since that year I have always maintained that if you messed up any one of your wines it was time to quit your day job. Not that it was any easier to make great wines but it was certainly harder to make bad wine. This new release echos that theme as 2016 was the fifth year in a row that Napa had seen some amazing growing conditions.

Despite the shatter and bloom issues in 2015, that resulted in incredibly low yields, 2016 bounced back in a big way. The overall trend throughout the growing season was balance and as it turns out that translated wonderfully into the aging process.

Our 2016 Merlot was harvested during the second week of September and landed at the winery in the middle of the night before it would be hand sorted and crushed while it was still cool outside. As is tradition we separate our Merlot in to six separate small fermentation “batches” to start building out our blending components. Two different yeast strains are utilized to highlight both the bright, plush fruit characteristics that Merlot has to offer and highlight some of the silky structural components. The six fermentations lasted just over two weeks before the free-run wine was removed from each. Once complete the remaining grape skins were gently pressed to extract any remaining wine.

Once pressed all of the 2016 lots were placed into thirteen once and twice used French oak barrels. Over the years we have taken a much slower approach in integrating new oak into our aging program. In fact all of our Merlot was pressed off by the beginning of October and did not get racked into any new barrels until January. While there are many differing opinions on how to integrate oak we have found that making that call a couple months down the road, once the volatility that fermentation provides has calmed down, has a much grander effect on our Merlot.

So, in January we started to integrate about 30% new French oak into our Merlot lots. Over the next twenty months we would guide each lot along to become a component to the final blend that would be bottled up in August 2018. At the same time we would cut one lot from the herd for our Single Barrel bottling (more on that next week!). A couple of gentle rackings each year would help us remove any heavy solids that remained after pressing. We do continue to avoid any heavy filtering prior to bottling so this is imperative so that you don’t have to worry about the Merlot being too chewy :).

As the months went on we continued to see the lots come together and gain more balance. Upon blending and bottling during the summer of 2018 we could feel the excitement building. This 2016 vintage was something special. While it definitely maintains what has become a classic “MTGA Style” it has a bit of an x-factor. Frankly we just describe it as “yummy” because even we are having a hard time wrapping our brains around how solid this new release is.

Now that a year in bottle has passed we have started the final countdown till release!! Be sure you are on our mailing list for our official release notice or jump on board the MTGAllocations Wine Club to snag our 2016 Napa Valley Merlot at the end of the month!

Cheers!

-Manderson