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Taft Street Alexander Valley Merlot 2012

Merlot from Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California
    14.8% ABV
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    14.8% ABV

    Winemaker Notes

    Rich and supple, this 2012 Merlot opens with cherry and currant undertones. The smooth dark fruit flavors persist impressively into a lingering finish full of plum, mocha, and caramel. The tannins are nicely integrated, making this a wine that not only drinks well at the moment, but can appreciate further aging.

    Blend: 95% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc

    Critical Acclaim

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    Taft Street

    Taft Street

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    Taft Street, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California
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    The Taft Street story began in the 1970's, when John Tierney & friend Mike Martini began making wine in Mike Tierney's garage on Taft Street. The reputation of the "garagistes" wines (referring to small lots of cult wines produced by Bordeaux winemakers in garages) spread, and family and friends bonded Taft Street Winery on April Fool's Day, 1982, in the Russian River Valley town of Forestville. Today Taft Street focuses on making wines from the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast appellations, as well as from nearby vineyards in Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley. Our goals have not changed - make the highest quality wines; sell them at a fair price, and most of all, have fun in the process.

    Alexander Valley

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    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.

    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.

    VWM12TSMR17_2012 Item# 138185