Atalon Merlot 1999
Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The famed Howell Mountain property was acquired by the Jackson family in 1996 and renamed the Keyes Vineyard in honor of the early farmer's pioneering viticultural contributions. Today, the historic ghost winery stands as a strong reminder of a 150-year old tradition of growing wine grapes within the thirty-mile stretch of the Napa Valley frontier.
In 1997, Atalon was created to revive the vineyard's past accomplishments and to build on the area's reputation for producing remarkable red wines. Although inspired by ghosts long gone, Atalon wines reflect a modern understanding of farming Napa's rugged mountains and valleys for the most balanced and expressive wines.
Drawing fruit from selected vineyards, the wines are a composite of vineyards stretching from the rolling hills of Napa-Carneros in the south to the peaks of Howell Mountain in the north. Atalon is dedicated to the true essence and flavor of the Napa Valley, a distinction defined by Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
As Napa Valley’s third most planted grape, Napa Valley Merlot shows time and time again its potential to produce exceptional results. Napa’s vaunted combination of climate, soil and the human factor of winemaking expertise lead to big, ripe, cellar-worthy and world-class versions.
Whether made by itself in single varietal bottlings or as an important role in Bordeaux Blends, Merlot continues a prominent role in this famous region. While Cabernet typically takes the lead role, Merlot’s contribution—even at 10% to 20% or so—is significant indeed. Often described as “the flesh on Cabernet’s bones,” Merlot lends a soft, round and plush character that beautifully complements Cabernet’s linear, full-throttle structure. Its flavors of plums plus subtle herbs and mint also dovetail nicely with Cabernet’s blackberry and cassis.