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O'Shaughnessy Howell Mountain Merlot 2014

Merlot from Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California
  • RP94
0% ABV
  • WS93
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Winemaker Notes

Dark ruby in color with an almost opaque core leads to intense aromas of blackberry, wild plum and black tea. On the palate, the wine is full bodied with balanced acidity and integrated tannins. This Merlot is approachable now, but has the characteristics to develop and improve for decades.

Critical Acclaim

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RP 94
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2014 Merlot, which is 100% Merlot, is actually one of the few truly great Merlots made in Napa Valley. (Pahlmeyer nails it with another one, but there are a few others.) This wine has terrific fruit intensity, big, deep, chocolate/mocha, black cherry and currant notes, and a large frame filled with extract, glycerin and juicy, chewy fruit. It is a sumptuous Merlot fruit bomb to drink over the next 10-15 years.
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O'Shaughnessy

O'Shaughnessy

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O'Shaughnessy, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California
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O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery sits at 1,800 feet on the heralded Howell Mountain appellation in the beautiful Napa Valley. Founded in 1996, the estate encompasses one hundred and twenty acres.

Winemaker Sean Capiaux has overseen the planting of the vineyard and selected numerous clones of Cabernet Sauvignon and all seven of the historic Bordeaux varietals for this unique property.

O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery uses modern equipment to produce non-interventionist wines that are naturally fermented and bottled unfined and unfiltered. These techniques allow the varietal character and terroir of O’Shaughnessy Estate vineyards to be the stars of the show.

Howell Mountain

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Today Cabernet Sauvignon is the star of this part of Napa’s rugged, eastern hills, but Zinfandel was responsible for giving the Howell Mountain growing area its original fame in the late 1800s.

Winemaking in Howell Mountain was abandoned during Prohibition, and wasn’t reawakened until the arrival of Randy Dunn, a talented winemaker famous for the success of Caymus in the 1970s and 1980s. In the early eighties, he set his sights on the Napa hills and subsequently astonished the wine world with a Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. Shortly thereafter Howell Mountain became officially recognized as the first sub-region of Napa Valley (1983).

With vineyards at 1,400 to 2,000 feet in elevation, they predominantly sit above the fog line but the days in Howell Mountain remain cooler than those in the heart of the valley, giving the grapes a bit more time on the vine.

The Howell Mountain AVA includes 1,000 acres of vineyards interspersed by forestlands in the Vaca Mountains. The soils, shallow and infertile with good drainage, are volcanic ash and red clay and produce highly concentrated berries with thick skins. The resulting wines are full of structure and potential to age.

Today Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Sirah thrive in this sub-appellation, as well as its founding variety, Zinfandel.

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.

STC547908_2014 Item# 239391