Monday, April 5, 2010

2003 Pride Merlot

I am not one of those people who think California Merlot sucks. But I think a lot of it does. So I'm always a bit nervous when I open a bottle, even one from a good producer like Pride Mountain Vineyards, unless I've had it and can remember it. I tend to hold my California Merlots for a fairly short period because the quality and balance can vary so much even among good producers. I got the bottle when touring the Spring Mountain wineries, most of which require appointments. Sunset magazine ran a great article on Spring Mountain wineries several years ago that turned into one my favorite trips to Napa. The tasting room itself is magnificent and if you have a chance, go.

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I don't specifically remember tasting the Merlot, but I've had enough Pride Mountain wines to know they tend make dense, extracted wines. And the Merlot did not disappoint. If I had to do it over, I'd hold this bottle for another five years, but as it opened, Plums interlaced with chocolate balanced with spice (I swear I tasted Cinammon) with an incredible richness that had only really started to take on the mature flavors I prefer. Velvety smooth tannins provided depth and weight that I find either lacking or overblown in many California Merlots. With a few more years to even out the tannins, the acid would show through better. The wine continued to evolve through the hour it took to kill the bottle eventually showing cassis and oaky notes. Overall, a great bottle of wine that I would love to get more of.

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