Sirita Merlot 2001, Napa is 100% Merlot from the town of Napa, just south of the Oak Knoll Road that separates Yountville from Napa. It is in soils that are more clayey and alluvial, and in a cooler region often exposed to the fogs of San Pablo Bay, which Merlot favors. This Napa Valley Merlot is dense, velvety and complex on the palate, with a bright fruit intensity of currants, black cherry and tobacco. It also has a balancing acidity that leaves the palate refreshed with additional notes of violets and coffee completing the component profile. While it is seductive in its youth, it will benefit from cellaring. I think that the wine is optimal with a little breathing (decant and let sit for around 30 minutes) prior to serving at this early stage of its development.
The amount of Taransaud oak that went into this wine has increased over the previous year becoming nearly 50% of the new oak. This is the finest oak for aging Bordeaux varietals, and is found in some of the top California wines. The wood flavors are integrated into the fruit and help the wine to develop in a classical manner. This is the first vintage of Merlot for me from this vineyard. I located it thanks to Randy Lewis, of Lewis Cellars, who had used it up to this year for his reserve Merlot program. The 2001 vintage was relatively even and moderate, allowing the grapes to develop complex flavors, though we dropped a little fruit around veraison due to a temporary cool spell.
The wine is bolder and denser than most California Merlots and can be appreciated with steak, roast beef, venison, spareribs and other robust meats. The vintage of 2001 yielded around 560 cases of Merlot.