Leonetti Merlot 2018
The first release from 2018 is a true marker of this extraordinarily high-quality vintage. Extremely dark and impressively structured. Bursting from the glass are aromatics of roses, other florals, ripe mixed plums, planed cedar, and a creamy cinnamon roll note that is enticingly seductive. The wine is broad and rich on the palate with incredible density of fruit and very fine-grained tannins. In a vintage like this one, the blend simply beckoned to be a 100% Merlot as it needs no support from other Bordeaux varieties.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
A beautiful, layered red with blackberries, violets and chocolate. It’s full-bodied, yet agile and driven. Such balance and harmony. Lovely length. Drinkable now, but better in 2022.
Already bottled, the 2018 Merlot comes from a mix of vineyards in Walla Walla (Loess, Mill Creek, and Leonetti) and spent 15 months in new and once-used French oak. Juicy, vibrant, and pure, yet also with plenty of power, it is loaded with ripe currants and black cherry fruit as well as notes of chocolate, leafy herbs, and graphite. Rich, full-bodied, and concentrated, with ripe tannins, it's a rocking Merlot that's going to benefit from just a year or two of bottle age and drink brilliantly for 8-10 years.
This wine is 100% varietal—what a glorious example of Merlot. Aromas of dark raspberry compote, plum, dark chocolate and cedar are followed by textured, layered, rich flavors that a firm spine of tannins stands up. Lovely acidity brightens it..
Responsible for some of Washington’s most highly acclaimed wines, the Walla Walla Valley has experienced a surge in popularity in recent years and is home to both historic wineries and younger, up-and-coming producers.
The Walla Walla Valley, a Native American name meaning “many waters,” is located in southeastern Washington; part of the appellation actually extends into Oregon. Soils here are well-drained, sandy loess over Missoula Flood deposits and fractured basalt.
It is a region perfectly suited to Rhône-inspired Syrahs, distinguished by savory notes of red berry, black olive, smoke and fresh earth. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot create a range of styles from smooth and supple to robust and well-structured. White varieties are rare but some producers blend Sauvignon Blanc with Sémillon, resulting in a rich and round style, and plantings of Viognier, while minimal, are often quite successful.
Of note within Walla Walla, is one new and very peculiar appellation, called the Rocks District of Milton-Freewater. This is the only AVA in the U.S. whose boundaries are totally defined by the soil type. Soils here look a bit like those in the acclaimed Rhône region of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but are large, ancient, basalt cobblestones. These stones work in the same way as they do in Chateauneuf, absorbing and then radiating the sun's heat up to enhance the ripening of grape clusters. The Rocks District is within the part of Walla Walla that spills over into Oregon and naturally excels in the production of Rhône varieties like Syrah, as well as the Bordeaux varieties.
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.