Released SEPTEMBER 1, 2013
Suggested California retail: $50.00
“[Shafer] has been making much-praised Merlot for many decades.
— Lettie Teague, The Wall St. Journal
The long, cooler-than-average 2011 vintage held fruit maturation to a slow, even pace. To keep ripening on track we cut away more fruit than usual and for this we were richly rewarded at harvest with clusters laden with excellent color and elegant flavor.
“From one of the most difficult vintages in our history comes a wine that richly rewards all our efforts – from fragrant aroma through the round, full mouth to its long, polished finish this wine offers both layered complexity and easy-to-love juiciness. In the nose and mouth I get so many scents and flavors – red and black cherry, red and black plum, smoke, white pepper, sage, oregano and wet earth. This lush package is kept 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,
“… dense purple color … aromas of coffee beans, black cherries, black fruits and spice … a successful effort in a far more challenging vintage.”
— Robert M. Parker, Jr., The Wine Advocate
“Bright red berries, flowers, mint, spices and savory herbs jump from the glass … The aromas and flavors are bright, perfumed and beautifully nuanced in this vintage.”
— Antonio Galloni, Vinous
“Dark, smooth and bright with spice, ripe plum and concentration; long, balanced and rich; long and balanced.”
— Anthony Dias Blue, The Tasting Panel
“… attractive, herbal, cedary, dark cherry fruit aroma with hints of tobacco leaf, damp earth, and graphite; full body; big, rich, textured, concentrated, cedary, red and black fruit flavors … impressive now, but a worthy candidate for another five years of bottle aging. Very highly recommended.”
— California Grapevine
“Good dark red. Musky currant and milk chocolate aromas are complemented by smoky oak. Rich and truffley on the palate, with inviting sweetness to the flavors of cherry, licorice, coffee bean and fresh herbs … this broad, chewy wine finishes with sweet tannins and very good persistence.”
— Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar
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.