The Estate Reserve Merlot is the first to be released under the Stags' Leap estate program. The devastation of the vineyards by phylloxera over a decade ago forced, and inspired, Brittan to replant the entire vineyard, block by block carefully selecting the clones, rootstock, and vine spacings that would coax the very best qualities out of each unique site on the estate. Now that the vines are coming into full maturity he has been able to produce intense and complex wines which show the true potential of this historic estate.
"There is a ripeness and concentration to this wine that represents a new style for us," says winemaker Robert Brittan. "Although elegantly structured, the wine has lots of extraction and a new level of density. But it still has the briary character that I think of as the hallmark of Stags' Leap Merlot, layered with aromas of fresh and dried herbs and flavors of black cherry, raspberry jam, lemon grass and Belgian hot cocoa. It is truly a wine with a sense of place."