Released August 31, 2012
Suggested California retail: $50.00
“One of California’s most popular luxury priced Merlots is also one of the state's best.”
— Richard Nalley, Forbes
The 2010 vintage served up a long, cooler-than-average summer, holding fruit maturation at a slow, even pace. To keep ripening at a good pace we cut away more fruit than usual and for this we were richly rewarded at harvest with clusters laden with excellent color and delicious flavor.
“The 2010 gives everything a Merlot should and more – lively, enticing red fruit with a core of deep, lush black fruit – red cherry and black cheery, red plum and black plum, spice and berry with hints of earth and smoke. This plush package is held together in a structure of fine, ripe tannins.” – Shafer winemaker 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,
“… rich, boisterous and loaded with fruit. Freshly cut flowers, sweet red berries, mint and spices all make an appearance in this flashy, exuberant red. The vibrancy of the vintage works to balance some of the wine’s natural overtness. Clean, saline notes add an attractive briskness to the finish. This is a gorgeous wine that makes a compelling case for Merlot-based wines in Napa Valley.”
— Antonio Galloni, The Wine Advocate
“In addition to its famed Cabernet, the Shafer family, in conjunction with longtime winemaker Elias Fernandez, has been making much-praised Merlot for many decades. The style is full-bodied, full-throttle … but there’s also lots of ripe, red fruit showing a more seductive side.”
— Lettie Teague, The Wall St. Journal
“There is nothing about this very juicy, many-layered Merlot to suggest that the 2010 vintage posed real problems for many in achieving adequate ripeness, and, true to the Shafer style, it is a rich, fully-fleshed, deeply fruity wine with enormous savor and depth. Its central themes of ripe cherries merge with elements of caramel, vanilla and toasted brioche, and its generous flavors go on and on. In truth, there is plenty about this bottling that is sure to tempt early drinking, but it is far from fully evolved, and as Shafer Merlots and Cabernets have proved over the years, being wholly delicious when young in no way precludes being even better with age.”
— Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wines
“A seamless merlot that has great bones. Tasty black and red fruit with notes of black cherry, cherry and plum. Earthy.”
— Peg Melnik, Santa Rosa Press Democrat
“… attractive, forward, plummy, spicy, complex, ripe cherry, red currant, and blackberry fruit aroma … big, rich, concentrated, plush, plummy red and black fruit flavors with good depth and a verlvety mouthfeel … very highly recommended.”
— The California Grapevine
Since planting our first Merlot vines in 1983, the Shafer vineyard and winemaking team have learned a lot about cultivating this fruit and producing this wine. It’s been an exciting journey and we want to share with you our love of this rich, delicious wine.