Whitehall Lane Merlot Leonardini Vineyard Reserve 1995
In 1993 the Leonardini Family of Whitehall Lane Winery bought the vineyard. Two separate wells were sunk and irrigation added to feed the vines during the growing season and rootstocks and clones were perfectly matched to the climate and soil to insure quality fruit.
There is approximately 10 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon planted and a little more than two and one-half acres of Merlot. The rootstock that was chosen works well in Cortina Gravely Loam and clones were picked because of their excellent track record in the Rutherford and St. Helena climates. The canopy and pruning system in place allows maximum sun exposure without over-cropping.
Whitehall Lane Winery was founded in 1979, but the history of the soil cultivation dates back two centuries. In the mid 1800's, Napa Valley settlers were drawn to the gravelly-loam soils and ideal climate, planting high quality grape vines at the Whitehall Lane Winery site. A barn constructed in the early 1900's for equipment storage is still used today. In 1979, two brothers started the winery and directed their winemaking efforts successfully to Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. They named the winery after the road that runs along the southern border of the property, Whitehall Lane.
In 1993, the Leonardini Family purchased the Whitehall Lane Winery estate. They updated the winemaking and barrel-aging program and introduced a scientific approach in the vineyards. The winery now owns seven prime vineyards that are the cornerstone on which the wines are made. They include two vineyards in the St. Helena Appellation, three vineyards (including the winery) in the Rutherford Appellation, one vineyard in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley and one vineyard in Sonoma Valley.
In its short history, Whitehall Lane has developed into a world-class winery. The efforts of the Leonardini Family are evident in the run of accolades from wine publications but are even more apparent in their elegant, beautifully made wines.
As Napa Valley’s third most planted grape, Napa Valley Merlot shows time and time again its potential to produce exceptional results. Napa’s vaunted combination of climate, soil and the human factor of winemaking expertise lead to big, ripe, cellar-worthy and world-class versions.
Whether made by itself in single varietal bottlings or as an important role in Bordeaux Blends, Merlot continues a prominent role in this famous region. While Cabernet typically takes the lead role, Merlot’s contribution—even at 10% to 20% or so—is significant indeed. Often described as “the flesh on Cabernet’s bones,” Merlot lends a soft, round and plush character that beautifully complements Cabernet’s linear, full-throttle structure. Its flavors of plums plus subtle herbs and mint also dovetail nicely with Cabernet’s blackberry and cassis.