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Peirano Estate Six Clones Merlot 1999
My mission is to make the best wine to ever come out of the Lodi Appellation.
My great grandfather, Giacomo Peirano, arrived in San Francisco in 1879 from his home in Genoa, Italy. By 1881, he started farming in Lodi, and year by year he steadily gained a place for himself pioneering vineyard and orchard development. Planted in the early 1880's, Peirano Estates was one of the first vineyards in Lodi. Located in the very heart of the Lodi Appellation (granted in 1986), Peirano Estate Vineyards grows Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and has perhaps the largest single block of old, head-trained, natural-rooted Zinfandel left in the state of California.
Nestled between the Sacramento-San Joaquin river delta and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, Lodi has an ideal Mediterranean climate with deep, rich, sandy-loam soils and abundant, quality water. These factors combine to make Lodi a major producer of quality wine grapes.
Beginning with the hard work and inspiration of Giacomo Peirano, five generations have grown and harvested grapes from our vineyard for over 100 consecutive years. Knowing that great wines must begin with the greatest grapes, it has always been our belief that wine should reflect the character of the fruit and the land. We also know that in the past Lodi has been associated more with quantity than quality.
With that in mind, we have strived to carry our five generations of commitment to the land through to our wines. Rather than destroy these beautiful old Zinfandel vines to make way for larger-yielding, more economically advantageous vines, we have decided to harvest the meager two tons per acre production. It is our goal to produce wines of bold varietal character with this fruit, vintage after vintage.
At Peirano Estate Vineyards we make wines that we enjoy. We hope that you, too, will find pleasure in our wine. It is our commitment to deliver that enjoyment at fair prices.
Responsible for the vast majority of American wine production, if California were a country, it would be the world’s fourth largest wine-producing nation. The state’s diverse terrain and microclimates allow for an incredible range of wine styles, and unlike tradition-bound Europe, experimentation is more than welcome here. Wineries range from tiny, family-owned boutiques to massive corporations, and price and production are equally varied—plenty of inexpensive bulk wine is made in the Central Valley area, while Napa Valley is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious and expensive “cult” wines.
Each American Viticultural Area (AVA) and sub-AVA of has its own distinct personality, allowing California to produce wine of every fashion: from bone dry to unctuously sweet, still to sparkling, light and fresh to rich and full-bodied. In the Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc dominate vineyard acreage. Sonoma County is best known for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. The Central Coast has carved out a niche with Rhône Blends blends based on Grenache and Syrah, while Mendocino has found success with cool climate varieties such as Pinot noir, Riesling and Gewürztraminer. With all the diversity that California has to offer, any wine lover will find something to get excited about here.
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.