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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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    A source of Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon that can rival its Napa Valley neighbors, the Alexander Valley is the hottest AVA in the county. This large and heavily planted appellation is only 25 miles from the coast, but it is relatively free of fog due to the sheltering effects of the mountain ranges in between. However, the Russian River, which runs through the valley, creates cool-climate pockets and soft, alluvial soil ideal for grape-growing.

    In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon, which makes up over 50% of plantings, Merlot and other Bordeaux varieties as well as Zinfandel thrive here, all of which take on a bold and voluptuous personality. Ample, fleshy Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc dominate white wine production. Some old-vine plantings of Grenache have been discovered here, 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. 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.

    VWM12TSMR17_2012 Item# 138185