Little Sister, Merlot Reserve, Napa Valley
"Well, I dated your big sister, and I took her to a show. I went out for some candy, along came Jim Dandy, and they snuck right out the door." Ry Cooder, 'Bop Till You Drop'.
Apologies to Elvis lovers, but Ry Cooder does it for us! With one of the shortest picking windows of any grape variety Merlot can be difficult. However, with around 100 acres of Merlot vineyards of our own in Saint Emilion, France this is a grape variety that we are very familiar with.
"A soft and velvety textured red with chocolate, berry and spice aromas and flavors. Full body, juicy fruit and a delicious finish. Drink or hold."
Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate
"The dark, formidably looking 2010 Merlot Little Sister (85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon) exhibits lots of Chinese black tea, mocha, black cherry, licorice, spice, coffee bean and mulberry aromas. Creamy textured, round and succulent, this medium to full-bodied Merlot is one of the finer examples of this varietal in Napa Valley. It should drink well for a decade.”
"2010 World's End Merlot Little Sister Reserve Napa Valley. (14.9% alcohol; from Coombsville fruit): Good red-ruby color. Very ripe aromas of blackberry, chocolate, mocha and tobacco leaf, plus a hint of roasted fruits. Rich, sweet and deep, with very ripe flavors of red and darker fruits and dark chocolate framed by harmonious acidity. Delivers a lot of texture and stuffing without coming across as heavy and finishes with broad, fine-grained tannins. This reminded me a bit of a high-end Argentine malbec.”
"Bursting in vibrant red plum and raspberry fruit, this bright, juicy wine is layered in black peppery seasoning and vanilla. Smooth and age-worthy, the finish is lingering and as satisfying as a triple encore with drum solo from your favorite band. — V.B.”
Roy Piper posted on eRobertParker
"It is so hard to find good Merlot in Napa at any price, but at $40, this was a nice standout. Black cherry, blackberry and an interesting green olive note. Sexy mouthfeel. Medium-full body, this is sourced from the southern part of Napa proper. A real surprise.”
Jeff Leve posted on thewinecellarinsider.com
"100% Merlot offers a big mouthful of chocolate covered black raspberries, raisins, blueberry and licorice. Rich, fat and sexy in style, this is a fun, showy, little wine.”
“This is probably Jonathan Maltus's favorite varietal, the big one in St. Emilion. The Napa version is, as expected, fatter, lusher, and richer, with little or no Cabernet Franc herbaceousness. Violets, torrefaction, baking spices. Loooong.”
Dean & Deluca
“Think chocolate, mocha, espresso and big black berries when considering this '09 Merlot from vintner Jonathan Maltus. Named after the song by Elvis Presley and later performed by Robert Plant, Dwight Yoakam & Ry Cooder, this Napa Valley Merlot is a great offering if you love bold merlots and if you typically only drink Cab. Sourced from Coombsville, this is a decadent '09 release. - Kerrin Laz, Wine Director”
Connoisseurs' Guide to Californian Wine
"This serious and deeply cast Merlot leads with lovely aromas of black cherries, smoke and sweet oak, and it’s very rich, fully stuffed flavors meet every expectation. It is at one and the same time substantial and very well-balanced, and, while its ample tannins are not unnoticed, they in no way interfere with its insistent, layered finish. It is a head-turner now, to be sure, but it is also a wine that wants to be cellared, and, what is already a very good thing is certain to get only better for four to six years.”
Stephen Tanzer's Int. Wine Cellar
"From Coombsville fruit: Dark red. Cassis and licorice aromas are initially a bit dulled by chocolatey oak. Supple, juicy and classically dry, showing a distinctly cool aspect to its black raspberry, currant, licorice and menthol flavors. Finishes with firm structure, dusty tannins and nice length. Elegantly styled merlot. (This is the California project of Jonathan Maltus, who is also responsible for numerous wines in Saint-Emilion, including Le Dome, Le Carre and Les Asteries.)”
This grapes are sourced from Andy Beckstoffer’s Los Carneros vineyard. Heavily influenced by its proximity to the San Pablo Bay, the maritime climate is further enhanced by the range of mountains residing to the south, east and north. These mountains act as a natural catch basin, trapping the fog and cool maritime breezes that typically funnel into the southern end of the Napa Valley from the San Pablo Bay on summer and fall afternoons. During harvest Los Carneros is able to take advantage of its cooler location farther south in the Napa Valley, allowing Merlot to ripen slowly, achieving full phenolic ripeness before being harvested.
Vinification is very similar to those wines that are made in France. After sorting – firstly by bunch and then, after the de-stemmer, grape by grape, a long cold soak before fermentation occurs. The wines undergo their malolactic fermentation in new and one or two year French oak, and are aged in the same oak.
As a number of people have said “It is so hard to find good Merlot in Napa but this was a standout. Black cherry, blackberry and an interesting green olive note. Sexy mouth-feel” The key for us is good extraction and a seriously cool climate vineyard like Los Carneros coming from an area which produces, similarly, the best Chardonnay’s on the Valley.
WHAT THEY SAY
92 POINTS, WINE ENTHUSIAST
"Bursting in vibrant red plum and raspberry fruit, this bright, juicy wine is layered in black peppery seasoning and vanilla. Smooth and age-worthy, the finish is lingering and as satisfying as a triple encore with drum solo from your favorite band."