1995 Pahlmeyer Merlot Napa Valley

"Intense purple color, with chocolate, raspberry and cherry-like flavors.  Full bodied with depth and a long, rich finish." – Helen Turley, Winemaker September 1997

Composition

93.0% Merlot
7.0% Cabernet Franc

Vineyards

  • Napanook,
  • Rancho Chimiles,
  • Caldwell Vineyard,
  • Hossfeld Vineyard,
  • Moon Vineyard

Critics

94 Points

Robert Parker, Wine Advocate #114, December 1997

I do not believe it is an exaggeration to say that Pahlmeyer's Merlot is now the finest being produced in California. One might quibble over other styles of Merlot, but no producer achieves more complexity, flavor, and thrills per sip than Pahlmeyer. The 1995 Merlot is an awesomely-endowed, full-bodied, pedal to the metal style of Merlot with great richness in addition to a knock-out nose of blackberry, raspberry, mocha, and smoky aromas that soar from the glass. The wine has a sweet attack (from its formidable glycerin and extract level, not sugar), full body, extraordinary layers of concentrated fruit, and a blockbuster finish. Amazingly, the wine, like its 1996 counterpart, possesses gorgeously integrated acidity, tannin, and alcohol. Can California Merlot get any better than this? This wine will drink well when released, and last for 15-20 years.

90 Points

James Laube, Wine Spectator, May 1998

Well focused, with ripe black cherry, plum and wild berry flavors, a hint of cedar and spice and mild but firm tannins on the finish. Best to give this a year or two in the cellar; drink through 2004.

Winemaking

Winemaker:
Helen Turley
Alcohol:
14.3%
Released:
January 1, 1998

The red grapes are picked fully ripe, brought to the winery in small bins, and destemmed only. The whole berries are then fermented with wild yeasts. This is followed by malolactic fermentation with indigenous yeasts in small French oak barrels. The Merlot is aged in a combination of new (80%) and one-year-old barrels for approximately 18 months and then bottled unfined and unfiltered. Interestingly, this red grape regime of whole berry fermentation in small lots softens tannins and magnifies fruit flavors.

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