This wine is a testament to the power of site. These vines, planted more than 30 years ago by Lee Hudson on his now-storied property in Carneros, are firmly established, mature, and able to withstand even the most challenging conditions as the drought of 2015. The clay-rich soils allowed the vines to extract what water was available to them throughout the growing season. The cool temperatures in that southern-most part of the valley, near the San Pablo Bay, allow the grapes to spend ample time on the vine, reaching full physiological ripeness.
The Wine: This youthful offering is deep, dark, and at the same time bright and aromatic. From the glass, we find notes of red cherry, slate, flint, and caramel. On the palate, the wine is compact, clean and well defined, the red fruit character giving way to notes of nutmeg and burning embers. With time in the glass, and certainly with bottle age, the wine will open up and become more complex, broad, and expressive.
Andy Erickson Winemaker: “The 2016 Arietta Merlot, as is true with most vintages, is 100% Merlot. The grapes come from the oldest vines planted on Hudson Vineyards, from a block Lee Hudson has referred to as the “Merlot Cathedral.” The vines indeed are statuesque, deeply rooted, and able to ripen the fruit gradually and fully. The wine from 2016 showcases the strength of this great terroir, presenting the full spectrum of Merlot character. Notes of blue and black fruits dance with aromas of baking spices, cocoa, pot de crème and graphite. On the palate the combination of fresh acidity and rounded but structured tannins is palpable. This wine is a reminder of just how impressive Merlot can be when grown on the right soils, in the cooler climes of the Napa Valley. It will be pure pleasure to taste this wine over the years as it develops in the bottle.”
Vinous 94 Points: “The 300-case 2016 Merlot is another winner. Medium to full-bodied, rounded, concentrated, and beautifully textured, it has wonderful notes of ripe black cherries, tobacco, and earth as well as a distinct gravelly minerality. It’s well worth seeking out and will deliver the goods for 10-15 years.”
Robert Parker 94 Points:”Deep purple-black in color, the 2016 Merlot has a captivating nose of crushed red and black plums, Black Forest cake and underbrush with hints of spice cake and dried mint. Full-bodied, plushly textured and packed with warm black fruits and baking spices in the mouth, it has a long peppery finish.”
Vinous 94 Points; “Arietta’s 2016 Merlot Hudson Vineyards is just as impressive from bottle as it was from barrel. Powerful and savory, the Merlot packs a real punch. Black cherry, grilled herbs, graphite and menthol add character to this decidedly brooding wine. Far from an easygoing Merlot, the 2016 at Arietta is going to need a few years to come into its own, and will drink beautifully for many years beyond that.”
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