Notes from WineChump
I know I made a mistake tonight. As this winechump clears out his wine cave, relieving himself of wine that might have gone a bit off after its time, I found a Shafer Merlot 2001. Typically, I Google my wines to figure out if it’s time to drink them, or simply use them to cook some killer spaghetti sauce. Thinking about a recently opened Coppola Blue Diamond Merlot from 1999 where I found that it hadn’t survived the years and that I should have opened it years earlier, I grabbed the Shafer and uncorked it. So, the mistake I made was opening it! Then, again, it was quite good. No, really it was great!
Notes from the Producer
“One of California’s most popular luxury priced Merlots is also one of the state’s best.”
– Richard Nalley, Forbes
To deliver a wine loaded with color, extract and concentration, Shafer vineyard crews pass through the vine rows a number of times as harvest approaches cutting away less-ripe and under-developed fruit. This allows the vitality of the vine to focus on the remaining top-quality fruit. With added hang time, sugars and flavors increase markedly.
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.
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.
“The 2007 Merlot is a richly aromatic, elegant wine that comes with layer upon juicy layer of lush red and black jam fruits – cherry, plum, currant – and dark chocolate, black tea, smoke and spice. The tannins are ripe and smooth with a finish that takes its time letting you go,” says Shafer winemaker, Elias Fernandez.