The Merlot Retrospective Part Uno: 2010 through 2014

As we approach our 10th harvest…

…holy shit… it has been 10 years!

Yep, typing that definitely threw me for a loop. Anyway, moving right along!

As we approach our 10th harvest it was about time that we go back and explore each vintage of our Merlot that we have made thus far including barrel samples from those lots that are still aging gracefully in the cellar. It is our hope with the retrospective tasting that we can accomplish a few things:

  1. To make sure that if you have some of these vintages in your cellar that you know where they are at. In that same vein we will hopefully provide some insight into how much longer we would suggest to hold onto these bad boys or if you should drink them sooner rather than later.

  2. To ensure that we have stayed on track with our wine style over the years. While each wine will be unique to the vintage it came from it is always our hope that each wine side by side tells that story while being true to MTGA’s style.

  3. Hopefully get a little mid-afternoon buzz on with some friends and family! This might be the most important point… maybe.

Fair warning! This might be a lengthy post so we will try to highlight each individual vintage in BOLD so that you can sort through each vintage a little easier.

So without further ado:

2010 MTGA Napa Valley Merlot

I have always viewed our first release as a “rough draft” so to speak. During the 2010 harvest and through the first half of the aging process this wine was all about trial and error. I started making it for the sole purpose of proving that I could just make a decent wine. The second half of the aging process was spent agonizing about how I could turn this test run into a business. Now here we are!

Even to my surprise the 2010 has held up incredibly well and still has plenty of life left in it. It is as bright as ever and has started to gain added complexity as its tertiary characteristics have started to come into play. Due to its rustic nature it is still a wine I decant whenever possible, or at least a few vigorous swirls in a glass.

2011 MTGA Napa Valley Merlot

I’ve written and talked about the 2011 vintage more than any other. I still maintain that 2011 is hands down the most underrated vintage we have seen since 1998. Not only that, after this blind tasting it might be my favorite Merlot as it is tasting today. It is much more restrained than the vintages that follow but that has allowed for some incredibly graceful aging over the last 8 years. It has started to share its tertiary characteristics with earth and spice getting more prevalent in recent months. That said there is still plenty of silky red fruit to back it up.

It will continue to age well over the next five years or more but with how good it is tasting it is definitely a good time to start popping bottles and enjoying this release.

2012 MTGA Napa Valley Merlot

Of our early vintages the 2012 Merlot is the richest and most velvety of the bunch. To this day it stands out for that reason (though the 2016 might give this release a run for its money). This release came in a very close second place for my favorite as it is tasting right here and now. Plenty of dark and red fruit characteristics still dominate the palate. It has a long way to go before it will start to show signs of fading but I highly recommend diving into the 2012 Merlot now to catch it on the upswing.

2013 MTGA Napa Valley Merlot

The 2013 Merlot is hands down the HBIC’s favorite (that is my better half Brittany for those not in the know). I have always said that if you could take the best characteristics of the prior to vintages and combine them into one wine that you would end up with 2013. It has the lush fruit that we tasted in the 2012 but the structure and leanness of the 2011. The flavors and structure almost don’t make sense but they jive so well that they keep you coming back for one sip after another.

2014 MTGA Napa Valley Merlot

Our 2014 Merlot is easily one of the most structured releases over the last 10 years. It was also the year that we determined that our Merlots need at least a year in bottle before we release them. Since we made that choice we have only seen the benefits of that extended bottle time. It certainly allowed the 2014 to integrate and smooth out some of the rough edges but even then it still packs a good punch. If you have ever had a tart-cherry pie you know exactly what to expect from this wine.

Normally I wouldn’t mandate waiting for an extra year or two before consuming but the 2014 release is one that I will keep tucked away for a bit longer. If you do like big flavor and structure then this release will do you a solid now.

Stay tuned for our next post featuring the 2015 through 2018 Merlots!