| A Vertical Comparative of Napa Valley Reserve Merlot Vintages: 1995, 1996, 1997
1995 Napa Valley Reserve Merlot:
82% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petite Verdot
Intense black cherry, roasted coffee, and heady vanilla and spice aromas from 80% new French oak radiate from the glass. "Massive" accurately describes the body, structure, deep hue, and concentration of fruit in this wine. A velvety texture, supported by firm tannins, lead to a lengthy finish.
Improvements over previous XVS releases:
- Increase in fruit concentration
- Better texture/body on the palate
- Darker color
- Improved structure giving ageablility
1996 Napa Valley Reserve Merlot:
76% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petite Verdot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec
This wine displays black cherry, plums, violets, rich vanilla oak, and cola nut overtones. As with the '96 Napa Valley Merlot the '96 Reserve displays lovely texture with soft, round and long sweet fruit on the finish. The intense berry aromas and spicy complexity are enhanced by the addition of Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Verdot provide the structural backbone for this full-bodied Merlot (more structure-building varieties, and a higher percentage of them were required in this vintage). Superb weight on the palate and a velvety texture, along with well-integrated fruit and new French oak make this a wine of exceptional finesse and style.
Improvements over the '95 Reserve Merlot:
- This wine made in a more "finessed" style
- Oak is better integrated with the fruit
- Better body and silkier texture
- Very complex wine with many dimensions
1997 Napa Valley Reserve Merlot* :
87% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petite Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc
Wonderful ripe fruit and French oak integrate into an aromatic sensation. Dark fruits of cherry, berry, plum, and currants complex harmoniously with bay, toast, and floral nuances. A bright fruit entry broadens out on the palate along with a firm tannic framework, and crescends to a never-ending finish. Full-bodied and silky textured, the wine is in harmony with the acid and tannins in perfect balance.
Improvements over the '96 Reserve Merlot:
* At the time these tasting notes were written this wine was a blend of barrel samples.
- Gorgeous and intense full fruit aromas
- The finish is forever
- Dark, dark color
- Better use of oak
- Terrific structure and acid balance