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Flat front label of wine

Steele Merlot 1999

Merlot from California
    0% ABV
    • WS88
    All Vintages
    Currently Unavailable $26.99
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    Winemaker Notes

    The vintage of 1999 closely parallels the previous vintage of 1998. The year was characterized by a cooler than normal growing season, lower sugar levels and later ripening. The after effects of El Nino, the warming of the Pacific Ocean currents, caused this abnormal pattern of weather. Although cool, we feel that this was a better vintage than 1998 and especially so for Lake County as this is a perfect weather pattern to fully ripen Merlot.

    Our typical winemaking style for red wines is a warm fermentation followed by pressing and racking. The wine then goes to Oak barrels and generally spends 18-20 months in a combination of American and French oak barrels. While most producers of Merlot tend toward the soft and supple wine style, we have opted, because of the quality of the grapes, to make this wine in a rich, generous style. This wine is a mouthful of pleasure: lots of fruit, medium tannins and a long lingering finish. We would recommend some cellar time for this wine if only to allow all of the great aromas and flavors to properly meld. We fell that this wine can compete with any Merlot from any growing region anywhere in the world.

    Food Pairing: Because we make such a generous wine we recommend serving it with very hearty foods. Beef Wellington, grilled steaks, or a bowl of beef stew.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Steele

    Steele

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    Steele, California
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    Jed Steele has worked making wine in California since the late 1960s. In 1991, he founded his own small winery in Lake County. Steele Wines specializes in Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Pinot Blanc and Syrah.

    California

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    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 incredibly wide-ranging selection of wine styles, and unlike tradition-bound Europe, experimentation is more than welcome here. Wineries range from boutique to massive corporations, and price and quality are equally varied—plenty of inexpensive bulk wine is made in the Central Coast area, while Napa is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious and expensive “cult” wines.

    Just about every style of wine you can imagine is made in California, from bone dry to unctuously sweet, still to sparkling, light and fresh to rich and full-bodied. Each AVA and sub-AVA has its own distinct personality. In the Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and other Bordeaux varieties dominate, as well as Sauvignon Blanc. Sonoma County is best known for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel. The Central Coast has carved out a niche with Rhône blends based on Grenache and Syrah, while Mendocino has found success with Alsatian varieties such as Riesling and Gewürztraminer. With all the diversity that California has to offer, it is certain that any wine lover will find something to get excited about.

    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. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc, and on the Left Bank, 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 and Cabernet Franc.

    HEI1982156_1999 Item# 39447