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2011 Blueline Estate Merlot

2011 Blueline Estate Merlot

Bob Foley
Jeff and Carolyn Smith
The Chilton and Clark Families
Vineyard Designation
Blueline Estate
Soil Series
Gravelly Cortina River Wash
Calistoga, Napa Valley
77% Merlot, 20% Cabernet, 3% Petit Verdot
Barrel Program
Aged 16 months in 40% new French oak

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Other Vintages

Current Vintage Overview

The 2011 vintage was cool by Napa standards, with average daytime high temperatures hovering in the low 80s. In many respects it was similar to 2010, with the exception of early October rains that created unusual concentrations of Tule fog in many areas of Napa Valley.  Located in a slightly warmer part of the Valley, the Blueline Estate is ideally suited to deal with cooler vintages and fog thanks to its well-drained gravelly soils, with low water holding capacity, and west-facing exposures that take in full afternoon sun. Additionally, the canyons above the Blueline Estate produce a thermal draw that quickly dissipates fog, allowing for greater hang time. As a result, we were able to achieve greater ripeness while the cooler days helped retain natural acidity, resulting in more classically structured wines. Ultimately, the 2011 Blueline wines achieved ripe tannins with supple textures, great aromatics, and medium-plus levels of concentration, in addition to the lift and layering of cooler vintage acidity. Rather than exhibit pure power, the 2011 vintage showcases a fruit spectrum from red to black fruits, great balance, nuance and layers across all five Bordeaux varietals. 

Early ripening varietals such as Merlot excelled in the cooler 2011 vintage. Blueline is a truly exceptional terroir for Merlot: Contrary to the popular belief that Merlot is best suited in clay based soils, the Blueline vineyard offers volcanic gravel soils of higher mineral concentration with a noticeable lack of clay. Beyond contributing a strong sense of minerality, these soils render small berries and deeply concentrated wines. In 2011, the chalky, volcanic ash cobble of the Merlot blocks also helped ward off the intrusion of fog that challenged much of Napa Valley. 

Tasting Profile

The vintage, site and vines produced a Merlot with explosive aromatics of Asian Five Spice, sandalwood, and hints of cedar and tea leaf. Pure, rich fruit flavors of red plum and blackberry puree weave together with toasted vanilla bean and cocoa powder to complete a long, arcing finish. The texture is enhanced with ripe and silky tannins, lending a rich mouth-coating texture and wonderful drinkability.

~Jeff Smith, January 2016

Other Vintages

2015 Blueline Estate Merlot
2014 Blueline Estate Merlot
2013 Blueline Estate Merlot
2012 Blueline Estate Merlot
2010 Blueline Estate Merlot
2009 Blueline Estate Merlot
2008 Blueline Estate Merlot
2007 Blueline Estate Merlot
2006 Blueline Estate Merlot