Saddleback Merlot 2018
This is a Cabernet-lover's Merlot. It has a beautiful dark ruby red color in the glass. On the nose, a good swirl offers generous aromatics of freshly grated nutmeg, cassis, shiso leaf and black cherry. Its supple body gives way to flavors of anise, blueberry compote, with slight clove flavor on the finish. It’s balanced with friendly flavors of red fruits such a plums and freshly dried prunes. Plus, the oaky tannins that create a harmony of flavors that is suitable for sipping and many food pairings.
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Born to Danish immigrants, Venge's exposure to wine came at an early age: his parents operated a wine and liquor import and distribution company in Southern California. Venge continued his pursuit of wine at the University of California in Davis where he earned a BS in Viticulture in 1967.
Following a tour of duty in Vietnam as a Navy Reservist, Venge moved to the Napa Valley to pursue his interest in winemaking. In the subsequent years, Venge worked for notable wineries, such as Charles Krug, Sterling, Villa Mount Eden and Groth. During his tenure at Groth, Venge became the first American winemaker to receive a perfect 100 point rating from wine critic Robert Parker Jr. The 1985 Groth Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon catapulted Venge to a venerated position in the California wine industry.
As Napa Valley’s third most planted grape, Napa Valley Merlot shows time and time again its potential to produce exceptional results. Napa’s vaunted combination of climate, soil and the human factor of winemaking expertise lead to big, ripe, cellar-worthy and world-class versions.
Whether made by itself in single varietal bottlings or as an important role in Bordeaux Blends, Merlot continues a prominent role in this famous region. While Cabernet typically takes the lead role, Merlot’s contribution—even at 10% to 20% or so—is significant indeed. Often described as “the flesh on Cabernet’s bones,” Merlot lends a soft, round and plush character that beautifully complements Cabernet’s linear, full-throttle structure. Its flavors of plums plus subtle herbs and mint also dovetail nicely with Cabernet’s blackberry and cassis.