Harvest of 1997 was a scramble for very ripe grapes. The season began with early budbreak, followed by a warm ripening season. On Spring Mountain, where the harvests usually begin in October, Merlot grapes began to ripen in mid-September. This early harvest also accelerated as the average temperatures during the pick were quite warm. The fruit was crushed as quickly as it could be handled and immediately displayed very dark color and ripe aromatics.

The level of extraction in the 1997 reds is quite remarkable, providing a rich body and an intense fruit character of cassis and blackberry. The use of new French oak during the barrel aging of these beauties was increased to match the ripe dynamics of these wines. The resulting oak character is reminiscent of sweet clove and cedar. Tannins are ample for extended bottle aging but soft and supple enough to enjoy this Merlot in its vibrant youth. Cabernet Sauvignon was blended (10%) for added complexity and textural contribution.

Cellar and serve at 58ยบ for maximum enjoyment.

Appellation: Napa
Sonoma
Vintage: 1997
Harvest: October 1997
Fermentation: Stainless Steel
Cooperage: Select French Oak
Blend: 95% Merlot
5% Cabernet Sauvignon
Alcohol: 14.1%
Bottling: April 1999
Production: 5208 cases
Release Date: May 1999
Price:
SOLD OUT

Reviews

  • The Wine Advocate: August 24, 1999 Issue 24, Page 43/44
    Rating: 93

    The 1997 Merlot might be called LIQUEFIED VIAGRA. An incredibly sexy nose of smoke, black fruits, cappuccino, and toasty wood is followed by an expansive, terrifically concentrated wine with a sumptuous texture, no hard edges, beautifully integrated acidity and tannin, and a long, 35 second finish. According to the back label, about 5% Cabernet Sauvignon was added in the blend of this stunningly aromatic, multi-dimensional wine. It should drink well for 12-15 years.

  • Wine Spectator: September 30 1999, Page 185-194
    Rating: 92

    "SPECTATOR SELECTION" Wonderful ripe fruit is the hallmark of this lovely California Merlot, which displays rich and complex cherry, currant, anise, cedar and spice flavors. Gains in depth and nuance through the finish, where it keeps pumping out the flavors. Drink now through 2006. 5,208 cases made.

  • Wine Spectator: October 15 1999, Page 132, 135-136
    Rating: 92

    One of JAMES LAUBE'S TOP SCORING MERLOTS. Wonderful ripe fruit, with rich, complex cherry, currant, anise, cedar and spice. Gains depth on the finish. CELLAR -WORTHY MERLOT, PRIDE NAPA VALLEY. Each of the Pride wines repeatedly impresses with rich, polished, deeply concentrated flavors, yet it's the Merlot that seems to have an added e dge in complexity, even over the dramatic Cabernet and Reserve. The 1997 (92 points) is a great value at $30 (5, 208 cases) and the only outstanding 1997 so far.

  • Connoisseurs' Guide: December 1999, Page 34
    Rating: 2 Puffs

    Rich, ripe and wonderfully deep in black cherry fruitiness, this bold, intensely scented Merlot shows accents of violet and a generous dollop of creamy oak that bring breadth and welcome complexity throughout. Full, fleshy and positively mouthfilling, it follows through beautifully in the mouth with a wealth of handsomely oaked, ripe-fruit flavors that persist in a rich and lengthy finish. Imposing now, but very much deserving of age, it will only continue to improve over the next four to six years.