The warm and early ripening season of 1997 brought us mountain claret varieties with unbelievable extraction and depth. The Merlot lots were no sooner pressed off when the Cabernets were harvested and fermented. In a vintage with such overall intensity of character, the most highly extracted wines, which were selected for the Reserves, were beyond belief. The Reserve Claret is essentially 2/3 Merlot and 1/3 Cabernet Sauvignon, but a trace of Petit Verdot spiced the blend and lengthened the finish. These are wines for lovers of structure!

Ripe mountain Merlot makes its mark in the aroma profile where cassis and cherry mingle with French oak barrel nuances of roasted coffee and saddle leather. An astonishing mouthful of body explodes in ripe extraction, yet resolves in elegant softness in the finish. Flavors linger on the palate for minutes!

Appellation: Napa Valley
Vintage: 1997
Harvest: October 1997
Fermentation: Stainless Steel
Cooperage: French Oak
Blend: 63% Merlot
32% Cabernet Sauvignon
5% Petite Verdot
Alcohol: 14.1%
Bottling: March 2000
Production: 466 cases
Release Date: April 2001
Price:
SOLD OUT

Reviews

  • Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: May/June 2000
    Rating: 91+

    (Roughly two-thirds merlot and one-third cabernet sauvignon, with a pinch of petit verdot): Full dark ruby. Sappy, bright aromas of blackberry, cassis and violet. Powerfully structured, dense and tightly wrapped. The new oak component contributes to the wine?s impressive tannic clout. Still, this wine?s superb intensity and persistence suggests that the fruit will remain when the tannins begin to soften.

  • Wine Spectator: September 15, 2000
    Rating: 91

    Complex and concentrated, with earthy currant, coffee, vanilla, herb and tobacco, finishing with intensity and depth. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Drink now through 2007. 466 cases made.

  • The Wine Advocate: December 23, 2000
    Rating: 95

    The compelling 1997 Reserve Claret offers an opaque purple color in addition to a sumptuous bouquet of sweet blackberries, creme de cassis, and minerals, superb richness, exceptional concentration, and huge body. However, it manages to avoid being overbearing or unmanageable. Purity and delineation are also present in this multi-dimensional, prodigious wine. Although an infant in terms of development, it is accessible because of the ripe tannin and spectacularly concentrated fruit.