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Lava Cap Reserve Merlot 2014

Merlot from El Dorado, Sierra Foothills, California
    14.3% ABV
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    14.3% ABV

    Winemaker Notes

    Pleasant forest greenery and plum scents highlight the aroma of dark cherry. Toasted oak fill the palate and bright acidity define a nicely focused finish.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Lava Cap

    Lava Cap

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    Lava Cap, El Dorado, Sierra Foothills, California
    Lava Cap is a small, family owned and operated winery dedicated to the production of premium estate bottled wines utilizing only mountain grown grapes. The winery is located high in the Sierra Nevada foothills in the heart of the Apple Hill region of El Dorado County. Our elevation - close to 3,000 feet - is about the maximum permissible for growing grapes due to the prevalence of intense periods of frost during early Spring months. Lava Cap was established in 1981 with the purchase of a 65 acre pear ranch that dated back to the 1860's. This property, perched high above the deep canyon of the South Fork of the American River (not far from where gold was first discovered in 1848) at an elevation of 2,400 to 2,800 feet, is blessed with an abundance of water, excellent soil, and varied sun exposure. In 1990, an adjoining 18 acre orchard was purchased to allow for future expansion of our vineyards, and in 1996, the well known Granite Hill vineyard, famous for Petite Sirah, was added in partnership. We now have over 130 acres of prime vineyard land in production or awaiting vineyard development.

    El Dorado

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    As home to California’s highest altitude vineyards, El Dorado is also one of its oldest wine growing regions. When gold miners settled here in the late 1800s, many also planted vineyards and made wine to quench its local demand.

    By 1870, El Dorado County, as part of the greater Sierra Foothills growing area, was among the largest wine producers in the state, behind only Los Angeles and Sonoma counties. The local wine industry enjoyed great success until just after the turn of the century when fortune-seekers moved elsewhere and its population diminished. With Prohibition, winemaking was totally abandoned, along with its vineyards. Some of these vines still exist today and are the treasure chest of the Sierra Foothills as we know them.

    El Dorado has a diverse terrain with elevations ranging from 1,200 to 3,500 feet, creating countless mesoclimates for its vineyards. This diversity allows success with a wide range of grapes including whites like Gewurztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as for reds, Grenache, Syrah, Tempranillo, Barbera and especially, Zinfandel.

    Soils tend to be fine-grained volcanic rock, shale and decomposed granite. Summer days are hot but nights are cool and the area typically gets ample precipitation in the form or rain, or snow in the winter.

    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.

    WWH143404_2014 Item# 166584