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St. Francis Behler Vineyard Reserve Merlot 1998

Merlot from Sonoma County, California
    0% ABV
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    0% ABV

    Winemaker Notes

    St. Francis' Merlot Reserve is produced and grown exclusively from a 30-acre parcel situated in the heart of the original estate vineyard in Sonoma Valley, now known as "Behler Vineyard". The soil formation is distinctive composed of well drained with rock, gravel and loam top soils that yield small quantities of highly concentrated fruit per vine. The vineyard's cool microclimate is moderated by breezes from the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay and characterized by the morning and evening fogs. These cool night temperatures are critical to the development of complex fruit of superior quality. Vines are drip irrigated and canopies thinned by removing leaves from the vines to increase exposure to the sun, concentrating color and flavor. Harvest customarily occurs between mid-September and the end of October.

    The fruit is harvested by hand and crushed into temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Fermentation takes place in 8 to 15 days. The different lots are racked into new and one year old French and American oak barrels, and remain separate during the 24-30 month aging period. The blend is then assembled. Bottling takes place without fining or filtration and the wine is held nine to ten months prior to release.

    Alcohol: 14.2 % by volume

    Critical Acclaim

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    St. Francis

    St. Francis Winery

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    St. Francis Winery, Sonoma County, California
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    For more than four decades, the wines of St. Francis Winery & Vineyards have reflected the finest mountain and valley vineyards in Sonoma County. Our founder, Joe Martin, fell in love with Sonoma Valley and established St. Francis Vineyard in 1971, planting 22 acres of Chardonnay and the first 60 acres of Merlot in Sonoma Valley. After achieving great success as a grower, Joe opened his own winery in 1979 with his business partner Lloyd Canton.

    Today, a new generation of winemakers, Katie Madigan and Chris Louton, continues our long tradition of luscious, elegant, fruit-driven wines from Sonoma County grapes. We farm more than 400 acres of Certified Sustainable estate vineyards in Sonoma Valley and Russian River Valley, each with varying compositions of loam, clay and volcanic soils. We also nurture long-term relationships with top Sonoma County grape growers, giving the Winery access to some of the region's most coveted old vines Zinfandel and other varietals from acclaimed vineyards.

    Sonoma County

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    Home to a diverse array of smaller AVAs with varied microclimates and soil types, Sonoma County has something for every wine lover. Physically twice as large as Napa Valley, the region only produces about half the amount of wine but boasts both tremendous quality and variety. With its laid-back atmosphere and down-to-earth attitude, the wineries of Sonoma are appreciated by wine tourists for their friendliness and approachability. The entire county intends to become a 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019.

    Grape varieties are carefully selected to reflect the best attributes of their sites—Dry Creek Valley’s consistent sunshine is ideal for Zinfandel, while the warm Alexander Valley is responsible for rich, voluptuous Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are important throughout the county, most notably in the cooler AVAs of Russian River, Sonoma Coast and Carneros. Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah have also found a firm footing 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.

    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.

    PIM81761_1998 Item# 50288