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2014 Blueline Estate Merlot

2014 Blueline Estate Merlot

Winemaker
Tony Biagi
Vintners
Jeff & Carolyn Smith
Partners
The Chilton & Clark Families
Vineyard Designation
Blueline Estate
Soil Series
Gravelly Cortina River Wash
Appellation
Calistoga, Napa Valley
Varietals
81% Merlot, 9% Cab, 5% Malbec, 5% Petit Verdot
Barrel Program
18 months in 66% new French oak

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Other Vintages

Current Vintage Overview

The third year of California’s current drought cycle, 2014, was marked by a dry warm spring with early bud break and an even, warm summer. Harvest was on the early side, but not as early as 2015. Much of a vine’s hormonal cues are driven by soil and climate conditions in the spring. Soil temperature, available nutrients, available water and timing all interact with the plant to trigger its growth cycle and crop loads. Moreover, berry sizing is a function of these conditions. As a great deal of structure, flavor and aromatics are contained in the berry skins, small berries generally lead to improved density, richness and brighter aromas. As a result, the 2014 spring conditions contributed to smaller berry sizes and crop loads, and ultimately a fantastic grape chemistry. While not as tannic a vintage as 2013 yet more tannic than ‘12, 2014 as a whole fell right between ‘12 and ‘13 in terms of the balance of mouthfeel and aromatics. The ‘14s lean more toward the bright high toned aromatics of ‘12, yet with some, if not all, the density of ‘13. Ideally balanced, 2014 is reminiscent of the ‘01 wines, some of the most well preserved of their decade, tracking much like a mid ‘70s vintage. We can only hope 2014 follows in that vein. In a state like California, there are few benefits to drought, yet the art of crafting extraordinary wines is one significant exception. Some of the mid ‘70s vintages, also grown during a drought cycle, remain legendary for the longevity and freshness their classic structural core provides. 2012, ’13 and ’14 vintages could play out much like those ‘70s vintages. While differing in character, 2012, ’13 and ’14 share a freshness of fruit expression and a tightly woven inner structural core—critical to a red wine’s age-ability. It stands to reason these vintages will hold up very well, long into the future.

Tasting Profile 

Explosive aromas of warm yeasty blackberry cobbler, Asian spice, and the telltale exotic Mandarin Orange peel define Blueline Merlot. The palate explodes with rich flavor and interweaves red (dark sour cherry and plum) and black fruits (blackberry) with intriguing notes of hoisin and a notable crushed stone minerality. Layered and very complex, the texture denotes classic silky Merlot suppleness. While this vintage offers a smoother delivery than the 2013, it possesses a firm spine in its structural core. The finish is rich and expansive, balanced against a band of refreshing acidity, the vibrancy of minerality yielding a wine of great contrast.

Cellaring Potenial 

Amazingly approachable now with a sleek texture and bright aromatic, this Merlot has the stuffing to age gracefully and could outrun common assertions of age-ability for Merlot. The ‘14 Merlot should hit its peak in the next 3 to 5 years, and may be great for many years after.

~ Jeff Smith, March 2016

Other Vintages

2013 Blueline Estate Merlot
2012 Blueline Estate Merlot
2011 Blueline Estate Merlot
2010 Blueline Estate Merlot
2009 Blueline Estate Merlot
2008 Blueline Estate Merlot
2007 Blueline Estate Merlot
2006 Blueline Estate Merlot