Stonestreet Alexander Valley Merlot (half-bottle) 1996
In the autumn of 1989, Jess Jackson acquired the Zellerbach winery and renamed it in honor of his late father, Jess Stonestreet Jackson. Stonestreet quickly garnered international acclaim for their powerful reds and luscious whites.
Today, Stonestreet wines are undergoing a transformation, using fruit from Alexander Mountain Estate and new winemaking techniques. Alexander Mountain Estate, with lean, well-draining soils and cooler temperature, produces fruit with smaller berries and more intense color and flavor. Stonestreet is dedicated to fulfilling the promise of Alexander Valley's exceptional and distinctive vineyards. Traditional, Old World methods of hand harvesting, small barrel lot production, native yeast fermentation and bottling each wine unfiltered brings out the best in specific grape varieties and provides the quality framework for each Stonestreet wine.
Nearly a northern extension of Napa Valley, Alexander Valley starts just north of the small, Knights Valley, and is just a few minutes drive from the Napa town of Calistoga. It is Sonoma County’s hottest AVA. But the Russian River, which runs through the valley, creates cooler pockets and its soft, alluvial soil is ideal for grape growing, especially Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, some believe that Alexander Valley Cabernets truly rival the best from Napa Valley and many of the heavy-hitter producers have largely invested here.
In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon, which makes up over 50% of plantings, Merlot and old vine Zinfandel thrive here. Ample, fleshy Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc dominate white wine production. Some old-vine plantings of Grenache have also been discovered and more recent experiments with Sangiovese and Barbera show great promise.
With generous fruit and supple tannins, Merlot is made in a range of styles from everyday-drinking to world-renowned and age-worthy. Merlot is the dominant variety in the wines from Bordeaux’s Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol, where it is often blended with Cabernet Franc to spectacular result. Merlot also frequently shines on its own, particularly in California’s Napa Valley. Somm Secret—As much as Miles derided the variety in the 2004 film, Sideways, his prized 1961 Château Cheval Blanc is actually a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.