April 6, 2012

Wine Review: Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Chase Creek Merlot 2006

Chase Creek Merlot 2006
Founded in 1970 by Warren Winiarski and family, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars quickly built up a reputation as a powerhouse in Napa Valley. It was six years after the winery came into place that they entered the Paris Tasting of 1976, and it was at that tasting that their Cabernet Sauvignon from 1973, their first vintage, won best red of the tasting. Since then their wines, in particular their Cabernets, have become benchmarks among others from Napa. Their wines are definitely on the more expensive end of the spectrum, but with price comes incredible quality. While Cabernet Sauvignon is the more common of grapes grown in Napa Valley, every winery has other grapes they grow,  and that is true for this particular Merlot of theirs.

It was in 2004 that Stag's Leap Wine Cellars decided to give back to the land in which blessed their winery, and did so at a nearby location, Chase Creek. During the restoration of that land, the winery purchased some land for future vineyards. They grew both Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes at this location, and since then they have begun releasing these to members of their wine clubs. For this review, I am reviewing their Merlot harvested in 2006, and as per their recommendations this wine was to be drunk between 2011 and 2016. Well, as you can see I could not wait any longer and so here I am in 2012 reviewing the wine. Merlot is not my preferred varietal, but there are times when I find a great Merlot that appeals to me, and when it does I typically love it. Anyways, on to the wine!
2006 Merlot
The wine has a very dark garnet color, and it shows a lot of purple coloring. Swirling the wine in my glass there are few legs seen, but they are very thick the ones that are present. The wine has a strong aroma, but at it first it is very subtle. You may not pick up the aroma right away, but then you are greeted by tons of tannins, spices and oak. The wine is very powerful from the first sip, and though it shows some light characteristics in how it drinks, it is very heavy. It is not chewy like some, but other characteristics are there. The flavor profile is that of earth, leather and herbs, and I am also getting some plum and currant notes. The wine is definitely full in body, and rich in tannins. The finish is very long, and goes great at the end of an evening.

Very powerful, this wine is perfect after a big meal, and during, and would go great with a nice strong cigar. I would most likely pair it with a Nicaraguan puro similar to an Oliva Serie V or an Joya de Nicaragua. It shows those true Merlot flavors, and is an incredible Merlot. I am not a huge Merlot fan, but as a wine this is fantastic. I knew from the first sip what type of cigar to pair it with, and that is why I grabbed a Serie V. Both are flavorful, strong and dry on the finish. I give this wine a 91, and it shows those great qualities in making that you get with wines from Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, and it is a stellar Napa Merlot.
Stag's Leap Wine Cellars