Released September 1, 2016
Suggested California retail: $55.00
“[Shafer] has been making much-praised Merlot for many decades.
— Lettie Teague, The Wall St. Journal
This was another in a string of warm, sun-soaked vintages from spring through early autumn. The
consistency of daytime heat and evening coolness created a model growing season in which we harvested fruit with abundant color and concentration, along with enticing, rich aromatics.
“This was a beautiful vintage for Merlot. From the first pour the wine opens an of abundance enticing aromas and mouth-coating flavors of fresh summer berries, dark plums, and strawberries, fresh herbs and flowers all presented with juicy energy, surrounded by seamlessly textured tannins that will age attractively with cellaring.”
— Elias Fernandez.
Merlot is a finicky grape – a bit too much rain, a touch of frost early in the season – will easily result in less than ideal fruit. Early on each season our vineyard team culls any weaker fruit leaving only the best-of-the-best on the vine, ensuring that the wine exhibits lush, ripe, mouthfilling flavors that are true to varietal character.
While this wine is officially designated with the Napa Valley appellation, its fruit is sourced from within just a three-mile radius in the Valley's cooler southern end. Half of our fruit for our Merlot comes from a hilly Shafer-owned vineyard we've informally dubbed, "School Bus," located about a quarter mile due south of Stags Leap District. The remainder is cultivated within Stags Leap District by growers we've worked with closely for years.
Finding Our Wines
Robert M. Parker Jr.’s The Wine Advocate
“Shafer also makes one of the better Merlots. The 2014 Merlot includes 8% Cabernet Sauvignon and is a beauty. Mocha and chocolaty notes intermixed with red cherry, plum and blacker fruits jump from the glass of this perfumed and fragrant style of Merlot. It is medium to full-bodied, exceptionally pure and rich and should drink beautifully over the next 10-12 years of life.”
— Robert M. Parker, Jr., The Wine Advocate
“Expressive floral and spice notes open up first in the 2014 Merlot. Fresh, nuanced and energetic in the style of the year, the 2014 is a highly representative wine for the vintage.”
— Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com
“Dark purple color. On the nose, a dark core of saucy plum, black cherry and black currant, along with mocha, crushed rocks, violets, cola, campfire smoke and coffee. Very full-bodied with a huge and viscous presence on the palate, medium/low acidity. Black cherries, roasted plums and black currant, the fruit is dense but laced with flavors of violets, loamy soil, charcoal, vanilla, cedar, bourbon and spiced coffee. Huge and hedonistic, this goes for the jugular, but it is excellent for this style. I’d love to bury a bottle for five to seven years.”
— Isaac James Baker, Terroirist.com
The origin story of our decades-long love affair with this wine, in which Doug Shafer reveals how he talked his dad, John Shafer, into launching Merlot production back in the early 1980s.
What is a Diam cork?
A Diam cork is made from 100% natural cork that is finely ground and put through a cleaning process that, at the molecular level, eliminates TCA (the chemical compound that causes wines to be “corked”) and other microbial contaminants that produce off flavors. Wine corks are produced in France from this clean ground cork using an FDA-approved, food-grade binding agent. For more details on the process visit this URL: http://www.diam-closures.com/Process-en
Why is Shafer using Diam corks?
We don’t want a single bottle of Shafer wine to be corked. Ever. Over the past 30 years we have gone to extraordinary lengths to eliminate the presence of TCA in the natural corks we used and have been 98% to 99% successful. That’s not good enough. We want to be 100% TCA-free and using this cork will get us there.
What do you like about Diam corks?
We have tested Diam corks in trials for seven years and have come to believe the company’s guarantee that its corks are 100 percent free of TCA. In addition, these corks offer something else that natural corks cannot – a guarantee of the amount of oxygen the cork allows into the bottle over time. This is referred to as Oxygen Transfer Rate (OTR). Natural corks, by contrast, have inconsistent density and permeability, which means a variable amount of oxygen is allowed into the bottle. Using a Diam cork ensures that your wine won’t be “over the hill” before its time.
Why are Diam corks used in your Chardonnay and Merlot but not the other wines?
We have tested these corks for seven years and we like the results. Our Merlot and Chardonnay are wines that we know most consumers enjoy within two to five years of release. We continue to test these corks to see how they perform in terms of long-term aging.
How are Diam different from other composite corks?
Unlike other composite corks, Diam uses a safe, clean process to eliminate TCA from ground natural cork at the molecular level – it’s the same process used to remove caffeine from coffee beans. Also, Diam engineers its cork density to guarantee a consistent rate at which oxygen is allowed into the bottle over time. This ensures that every bottle will age in your cellar at a similar rate.
Can Diam corks be recycled like natural corks?
Yes. Most corks collected in recycling bins are re-purposed to make cork flooring, as such, Diam is perfectly useful.
Can I trust the Diam corks in your wines?
Yes. We have tested these corks for seven years and would not use them it we did not fully believe they are what’s best for the wine.