Throughout the Napa Valley, the long, mild growing season of 2002 produced ripe flavors making this vintage rich and vibrant. MERLOT fruit was harvested during the last three weeks of September, predominantly from the valley floor between Rutherford and Yountville along with MERLOT grapes from the estate vineyards here at Stags' Leap.
Hand-harvested grapes were gently destemmed and partially crushed. In keeping with tradition, the juice was fermented in a combination of open and closed-top fermenters maximizing extraction of the rich color, complex tannins and layers of aromas and flavors. The wine was aged for 21 months in fifty percent new French oak barrels to add spice and encourage the tannins to fully integrate. A small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon along with a touch of Cabernet Franc contribute to the complexity and length of finish.
In the nose, there are aromas of black fruit, cedar, vanilla, cherry and anise complemented with notes of orange peel, dark chocolate and black tea. The signature brambly character of Stags' Leap wines is immediately recognizable. A burst of blackberry, blueberry, and cola flavors tumble in the mid palate. Fully integrated and highly structured, this balanced, dark, fullbodied MERLOT delivers a creamy texture and supple tannins that linger during a long finish.