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ZD Wines Merlot 2001

Merlot from Napa Valley, California
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    Winemaker Notes

    This limited production (1470 cases) Merlot was harvested from the Atlas Peak appellation of Napa Valley in late October of 1998. The use of mountain fruit combined with the extended hang time resulted in a wine of exceptional intensity and complexity. Punching the cap of skins and seeds into the juice throughout fermentation further contributed to this wine's great color and depth of character. We blended 14% Cabernet Sauvignon into the wine to complement the soft, round flavors of Merlot. In a departure from our traditional 18 months of barrel aging for Merlot, this vintage spent almost two years in toasted American oak barrels. The wine has a nose of fresh ripe raspberry and black cherry with hints of nutmeg and buttery oak. On the palate, the complex and round, full flavors are balanced with silky tannins that lead to a clean and pleasing finish. This wine will age well for several years to come. -Robert deLeuze, Winemaker

    Critical Acclaim

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    ZD Wines

    ZD Wines

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    ZD Wines, Napa Valley, California
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    ZD Winery began as a partnership of two aerospace engineers whose initials formed the name of the winery: Norman de Leuze and Gino Zepponi. In 1968 they rented a small farm building in the Carneros region of Sonoma County; theirs was the first new winery permit issued in Sonoma County for nearly 20 years. ZD's 1969 Pinot Noir carries the historical significance of being the first wine to have a Carneros designation on the label. During the 1970s, a very open-minded approach was taken towards trying new and different varieties and growing regions. Research was undertaken to discover which regions produced the winegrape varieties that best reflected ZD's developing style - wines with rich, vibrant flavors. Over the years, ZD experimented with Zinfandel from the Shenandoah Valley; Pinot Noir from Oregon, Napa and Santa Barbara; Chardonnay from Napa, Sonoma, Monterey and Santa Barbara; Gewürztraminer from the Carneros; and more, plus extensive experimentation with use of oak from different regions of the United States and France. After 10 years of producing wine as a part-time business, Norman left engineering to devote all of his time to doing what had become a full-time passion. A new winery was built near Rutherford in the Napa Valley in 1979. After a decade of experimentation with various grape varieties, ZD Winery returned to its original goals and limited production to only Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Today, the de Leuze family continues to produce wines with a personal, hands-on approach.

    Napa Valley

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    One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production and tourism, the Napa Valley is the AVA that brought worldwide recognition to California winemaking. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

    Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two are St.-Helena and the valley's newest AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap District, and Mt. Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.

    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.

    FED48364_2001 Item# 63072