Fetzer Barrel Select Merlot 1998
Since 1968, Fetzer has stood by a simple philosophy: What’s good for the Earth is good for the grape, and what’s good for the grape is good for the wine. After Barney Fetzer launched his winery, he helped create the flavor profile that made Chardonnay the nation’s most popular wine variety, and Fetzer’s Valley Oaks Food and Wine Center anticipated the farm-to-table movement.
Fifty years later, the Fetzer collection is grounded in the character of American classics like Fetzer Valley Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon, Sundial Chardonnay and Shaly Loam Gewurztraminer—iconic wines rooted in thoughtful winemaking and a deep commitment to sustainability. Today, there’s still a delicious bottle of Fetzer to reach for on any night. These are wines that never compromise on flavor and never cut corners on quality.
Reaching up California's coastline and into its valleys north of San Francisco, the North Coast AVA includes six counties: Marin, Solano, Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake. While Napa and Sonoma enjoy most of the glory, the rest produce no shortage of quality wines in an intriguing and diverse range of styles.
Climbing up the state's rugged coastline, the chilly Marin County, just above the City and most of Sonoma County, as well as Mendocino County on the far north end of the North Coast successfully grow cool-climate varieties like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and in some spots, Riesling. Inland Lake County, on the other hand, is considerably warmer, and Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc produce some impressive wines with affordable price tags.
With generous fruit and supple tannins, Merlot is made in a range of styles from everyday-drinking to world-renowned and age-worthy. Merlot is the dominant variety in the wines from Bordeaux’s Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol, where it is often blended with Cabernet Franc to spectacular result. Merlot also frequently shines on its own, particularly in California’s Napa Valley. Somm Secret—As much as Miles derided the variety in the 2004 film, Sideways, his prized 1961 Château Cheval Blanc is actually a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.