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Burgess Merlot 2000
Rich aromas of black cherry and spice dominate the nose while the body is full and supple. The complexity and concentration of flavors ensures that this wine will complement a wide variety of foods. The finish is long and lingering and although drinkable now the wine will continue to improve with further cellering.
Burgess Cellars has been family owned and creating wines with mountain distinction since 1972 on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley. When our founder Tom Burgess purchased the 1870’s era winery in 1972 he established himself as a pioneer of mountain side wineries. Today, the second generation is building on Tom’s legacy. Brothers Steven Burgess and James Burgess took over as President and Vineyard Manager respectively. In 2013, Winemaker Kelly Woods, a UC Davis graduate, completed the new team, and together the trio has fined-tuned the vineyards and cellar to highlight mountain grapes. The new direction of the estate is taking Burgess Cellars to the pinnacle of Napa Valley wine quality. At almost 1000 feet, far over the valley floor, we produce wines from our two estate hillside vineyards, Winery Ranch Vineyard and Haymaker Vineyard. Our hillside grapes tend to be smaller, with more concentrated flavors and tannins, varietal intensity and excellent aging properties. A visit to Burgess Cellars begins with a panoramic vista that offers real perspective on the Napa Valley. One can see the length of the Mayacamas range, from Calistoga to the hills beyond Napa.
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.
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.
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.