The 1996 Merlot (3,000 cases) is a worthy rival. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, this blend of 93% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Franc tips the scales at a heady 14.6% alcohol. Could it be better than the 1997? The wine is opaque black/purple-colored, with a knock-out nose of plums, black cherries, chocolate, raspberries, licorice, and toasty new oak. Viscous in the mouth, with superb purity, this is a riveting, mind-boggling Merlot that sets a new reference point for this varietal in California. It can be drunk now, but has the potential to last for 15 or more years. (RP)
Very deep saturated ruby. Vibrant aromas of boysenberry and blackberry. Silky and rich in the mouth, with terrific texture and depth of flavor. Berry fruit complicated by hints of shoe polish and tar. Lovely restrained sweetness and harmonious acidity. Extremely long, dynamic aftertaste. (ST)
Impeccably balanced, remarkably complex and concentrated, with layers of currant, cedar, plum and blackberry. Turns plush and chocolaty on the finish, where the flavors soar on. (JL)
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