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Aquinas Merlot 2009

Merlot from Napa Valley, California
    13.9% ABV
    • WS86
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    13.9% ABV

    Winemaker Notes

    Rich Bing cherry and ripe strawberry aromas are dense and juicy, with secondary aromas of tobacco and cedar on the nose. Dark chocolate and rich berry avors—blackberry and marionberry pie—are juicy and full, and last through the silky mid-palate. The opulent fruit avors are well-balanced by chalky minerality and bold, round tannins, creating excellent structure. A dash of Syrah adds further complexity, contributing ripe pomegranate flavor and a touch of earthiness. Finishing with bright cherry notes on the supple finish, this big Merlot will please Merlot and Cabernet lovers alike.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Aquinas

    Aquinas

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    Aquinas, Napa Valley, California
    Aquinaswines are named for St. Thomas Aquinas, the seminal 13th century Italian priest, theologian and philosopher who dedicated his life to reconciling reason and faith. Just as he challenged the assumptions of his world, we are challenging the assumptions within ours.

    Aquinas wines are born from our belief that sophisticated, luxurious wines from pre-eminent appellations should be within the reach of all. We meticulously scour Napa Valley, leveraging generations of deep relationships to find the perfect fruit. Then, we pull upon decades of award-winning winemaking—itself an inherent blend of science and mysticism—to create wines that transcend their temporal origins.

    Despite their accessibility, or perhaps because of it, Aquinas wines have been well-received by critics across the country. A string of gold and silver medals has served to further underscore the faith we hold in our founding convictions.

    Napa Valley

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    One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production as well as tourism, the Napa Valley was responsible for bringing worldwide recognition to California winemaking. In the 1960s, a few key wine families settled the area and hedged their bets on the valley's world-class winemaking potential—and they were right.

    The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980s, when producers scooped up vineyard lands and planted vines throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, and today Napa is home to hundreds of producers ranging from boutique to corporate. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Napa whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

    Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that claim specific characteristics based on situation, slope and soil. Farthest south and coolest from the influence of the San Pablo Bay is Carneros, followed by Coombsville to its northeast and then Yountville, Oakville and Rutherford. Above those are the warm St. Helena and the valley's newest and hottest AVA, Calistoga. These areas follow the valley floor and are known generally for creating rich, dense, complex and smooth reds with good aging potential. The mountain sub appellations, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs, include Stags Leap District, Atlas Peak, Chiles Valley (farther east), Howell Mountain, Mt. Veeder, Spring Mountain District and Diamond Mountain District. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from a lot of time in the bottle to evolve and soften.

    An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot’s subtle tannins make it perfect for early drinking and allow it to pair with a wide range of foods. But the grape also has enough stuffing to make serious, world-renowned wines. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, in St. Emilion and Pomerol, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc. On the Left Bank in the Medoc, it plays a supporting role to (and helps soften) Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. They are often emulated elsewhere in Bordeaux-style blends, particularly in California’s Napa Valley, where Merlot also frequently shines on its own.

    In the Glass

    Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.

    Perfect Pairings

    Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.

    Sommelier Secret

    Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot with Cabernet Franc.

    NDF801024_2009 Item# 125536