Derenoncourt California

2008 Napa Valley Merlot,
Stagecoach Vineyard

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Stéphane’s extensive work with Merlot – now spanning three decades of experience – built his international reputation as a sought-after wine consultant and master of terroir.  With this block of grapes nestled 2,000 feet up Atlas Peak, he leveraged the full weight of his expertise to craft what we think is perhaps the finest Merlot this side of Bordeaux.  Antonio Galloni wrote in The Wine Advocate that this “fabulous” 2008 Merlot is “effortless” in its quality.  It was hardly effortless to make.  Our Stagecoach Vineyard parcel suffered greatly from those well-publicized 2008 spring frosts, resulting in a tiny crop.  But Stéphane is no stranger to the fickle whims of Mother Nature, and he knew that with the right kind of care and attention, he could still make a beautiful wine.  The precious few berries that ultimately emerged were all the richer in concentration and flavor thanks to the vines’ struggles, and gave us some of the best natural material we’ve yet enjoyed.

As in previous vintages, this Merlot is a stylish, feminine wine. But in 2008, the Merlot seems to take its sensuality to another level.  Like a curvaceous queen wreathing her power in a rush of silk and satin, this wine is at turns voluptuous and potent, but always regal. Its luminescent ruby color creates a radiant backdrop for the burst of flowers, crisp red fruit and truffle shavings that infuse the bouquet.  White truffles turn to black, and fresh tobacco turns to cured, as the polished tannins saturate the long palate with ripe cherries and a delicate mélange of vanilla and cinnamon.  The elegant interplay between firm tannin and fresh acidity suggests this wine’s best years are still ahead – though its exotic finish of grilled herbs, crushed rock and turmeric spices makes it difficult not to open the next bottle.

68 cases produced.

“The 2008 Merlot Stagecoach Vineyard is another fabulous wine endowed with tons of depth and class. Rich layers of dark blackberries, grilled herbs and chocolate flow from this effortless wine. This is a big style, but everything just works.”
-- The Wine Advocate (Antonio Galloni)