Our Blackstone 2002 Napa Valley Merlot is
sourced from distinct microclimates within
the cooler southern half of the Napa Valley.
Oak Knoll vineyard, located just south of Yountville on the southern end of the Napa Valley, once again provides the lion's
share of fruit for this year's wine. It is a moderately cool location with well-draining soil; producing fruit with concentrated
blackberry flavors. Just northeast of Oak Knoll, Blackstone chooses mountain-based vineyards high above the valley floor. This
well-draining, rocky terrain produces Merlot fruit with intense flavor and structure; giving Blackstone Napa Valley Merlot its
tannic backbone. Finally, Blackstone sources fruit from cool climate vineyards just south of Napa. Cool, low-yielding and
late-ripening vineyards give the wine bright fruit flavors, nice acid, spice and mineral notes. The combinations of these
distinct growing regions integrate seamlessly into a wine with uncompromising quality and complexity.
2002 was a cool year, with heat spikes in late August and early September. The cool growing season produced excellent quality
and dark color. The Oak Knoll area is unquestionably one of the best places in Napa Valley to grow merlot grapes. Proximity to
the San Francisco Bay provides the warm days and fog shrouded mornings for slow and thorough ripening of the fruit.
For the Napa Valley Merlot, winemaker Dennis Hill crushes and cold-soaks the grapes three days before a commercial yeast
is added. This method permits flavor and color extraction to occur. The grapes are pressed just before fermentation,
emphasizing forward fruit characteristics. The wine was aged in American (60%) and French (40%) oak (35% new, 65%
one - two years) for up to 17 months in 60 gallon barrels. Egg white fining was used to manage tannins.
The 2002 Napa Valley Merlot shows sexy aromas of dark berry fruit, cherry cobbler, rose petals, black pepper and spice. The
generous palate highlights big, mouth-filling black fruit and spicy flavors with a dominating chewy structure and a long finish. This
well-integrated wine is ready for immediate enjoyment. It can be enjoyed with a variety of grilled meats, poultry with rich sauces,
or a decadent Beef Wellington. Delicious now, this vintage has considerable structure that will reward cellaring for up to 15 years.
Sonoma County has always been Blackstone's home and inspiration. Since our beginning we’ve established a reputation for consistently delivering balanced, reliable wines of uncompromising quality
From the start, our goal has been to produce smooth, flavorful, harmonious wines with rich fruit, supple texture, and balanced oak. Early on, this approach found its ideal expression in our Merlot, which soon became — and still remains — America's favorite Merlot.
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It's hard not to think of Napa Valley when thinking of California wines. The region is, after all, the one that brought world recognition to California wine making. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux Blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two is St.-Helena and finally, just granted an AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap and Mount Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.