Wine Last Sold on: January 2, 2013
2009 Oakville Merlot
|Region:||California: Napa Valley|
2012 WINE INTRIGUE AWARDS WINNER:
Operatives’ Choice: Top Merlot of 2012
Welcome to day seventeen of the 6th Annual Wine Spies Wine Intrigue Awards. Every year, our Operatives and our Agents choose their favorite wines of the past year. Today, we are very pleased to present our Operatives’ favorite Merlot- of any that we showcased in 2012.
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
We only showcase wines that we love. While our emphasis is on quality first, every now and again we come across a real standout wine that rises above. When we do, we issue alerts like this one.
Mission Codename: Successive Greatness
- Agent Red
- Send Agent Red to infiltrate Swanson Vineyards in Napa Valley, California and procure a substantial allocation of their sought-after Oakville Merlot for our Merlot-loving Operatives. Mission Status
- Chris Phelps
Today’s 2009 Swanson Vineyards Napa Valley Merlot represents the sixth successive vintage of this fantastic wine that we have had the great fortune to present to you. Dark, plush and balanced with bold, bright flavors, today’s wine is among the best we have featured from Swanson.
Merlot makes for one of the most food friendly wines, and today’s example truly reinforces this notion. We paired ours with a delicious homemade pizza with marinara, fresh mozzarella, pineapple and Italian sausage. Juicy and bright, the wine provided the perfect palate cleanser, between bites.
Complex, balanced and very approachable, today’s fantastic wine earns our highest recommendation for a Merlot. Swanson Vineyards is best-known for their Merlot, and today’s stunning example clearly illustrates why, vintage after vintage, they earn our highest respect.
Dark garnet hues with crimson edging that catches the light when swirled. At the core of the line, colors deepen while clarity remains. After a hearty swirl, tall, skinny, tightly-spaced, wine-stained tears appear high on the glass - before beginning their steady march downward.
Lush black cherry, dark plum, red raspberry and softly spiced cherry leap from the glass. Just beneath are black licorice, vanilla, ripe blackberry, black currant, exotic spices and earthy bramble.
Smooth and very soft across the front palate. At the mid-palate, the wine shows a lush medium body, a bright acidity and plump tannins. A soft dryness spreads inward from the edges, introducing soft spice and a hint flinty minerality as it moves.
Black cherry, braised plum, dusty bramble, smoky cranberry and dark raspberry take the lead. These primary flavors are followed closely by blackpepper, flint, blackberry, subtle pepper and nasturtium blossom.
Long and lingering with cart, dark fruit that gradually yields to bramble as a soft, subtle minerality spreads a growing dryness across the palate. At the tail end, flint and black pepper persist for a while longer.
What the Winery Says
The 2009 Swanson Oakville Merlot is the perfect reminder of why so many serious red wine drinkers like Merlot. Visually, aromatically, and on the palate, the wine is plush and generous. The color is dark garnet with a purple edge. The nose is captivating, with aromas of fresh, ripe black cherry, plum, raspberry, and well-integrated toasted oak. In the mouth, very ripe black and red fruits surround a core of velvety tannin. The finish is enticing, silky-smooth, long and harmonious. This Merlot will continue to improve in the bottle, with optimum drinkability from 2013 - 2017.
The 2009 growing season emerged from a relatively dry winter into a warm spring with little frost danger. An inch of rain in May fortunately did not interfere with fruit set. We had a late July heat spike, with only a few days over 100 degrees. Veraison – the transition from green to red fruit – was quick and efficient. Temperatures remained moderate throughout the final stages of ripening, with ample heat to ripen our Merlot grapes.
About the Winery
We are a family winery founded on a passion for evolving the existing standards of wine and food. In the 1950s, long before founding Swanson Vineyards, the Swanson family introduced the first lifestyle product, Swanson frozen dinners, which helped women get out of the kitchen and enjoy life.
In 1985, at his 25th Stanford University reunion, W. Clarke Swanson, Jr. was inspired by a tip from a fraternity brother and successful vintner to purchase a parcel of vineyard land on the Oakville Cross Road in the heart of Napa Valley.
Clarke immediately hired André Tchelistcheff, one of the century’s most influential winemakers, as a consultant to help determine how to make the best use of the vineyards. For André the answer was to plant the then relatively unknown variety merlot—a move that would shape the future of Swanson Vineyards.
The family continues to expand the simple and sensual pleasures of life through Swanson Vineyards. With an eye toward quality, relevance and innovation, the next generation is enticing a whole new audience with a progressive approach to wine, food and the good life.
About The Winemakers
By the summer of 1987 the vineyards were replanted, and André made another influential suggestion—to hire the young novice talent Marco Cappelli to oversee winemaking. Marco, a first-generation Italian-American, was 26 and hired based on André’s gut instinct. It was a wise decision; Marco’s distinctive wines became the founding flavors of Swanson Vineyards.
For the rest of his life André lent his visionary talents to our winemaking pursuits, meeting with Marco biweekly and consulting on matters of the vine and winery. Marco remained Swanson’s winemaker for seventeen years, after which he purchased his own vineyard in the California Foothills. Marco is currently making four dessert wines for Swanson, which include Angelica, Crepuscule, Arsene, and Les Trois Filles.
In 2003, Swanson Vineyards was fortunate to obtain the talent of Chris Phelps as its new winemaker. Chris has had an illustrious career in the wine industry, first as winemaker at Dominus for twelve years and at Caymus Vineyards for six years. His wines are more refined and sophisticated than ever, yet they remain delightfully accessible and approachable—the perfect embodiment of our trademark decadence with a wink.