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Fans of taut, fresh reds cheered California’s
cool 2011 vintage, which yielded wines like
this smooth, structured Merlot.
What You Need To Know
The caricature of Napa Valley red
wines—superfruity, sweet and slathered in toasty new oak—had
been crumbling for several years when the cool 2011 vintage hit.
Already, influential vintners were dialing back ripeness to create
the kind of vibrant, herb-edged reds that made Napa famous
back in the 1970s and ’80s. This 2011 Merlot from the boutique
Hill Family Estate is a good example of a more moderately
styled Napa red. Most of the grapes for it come from the Hill
family’s Beau Terre Vineyard, located in the cool Oak Knoll
District. Winemaker Alison Doran—formerly an enologist at
Lewis Cellars—used wine from two Merlot clones to
add complexity, then bolstered the wine with a spice rack
of traditional Bordeaux varieties.
Savory, lightly smoky
black cherry notes.
Soft black cherry fruit with
clove and vanilla notes.
Cellar temperature—the bottle should be
cool to the touch.
Lamb, game or beef dishes.