A part of the Frog’s Leap family since 1990, Merlot is one of the most complex wines that we make—and one of the most rewarding. The variety is a paradox: a red wine that is capable of tremendous power and complexity, but one that requires a softer, subtler approach to unlock its full potential. Achieving this balancing act is the core intent of our Merlot winegrowing.
Central to our task is proper site selection and careful viticulture. The right mixture of clay and gravel is essential to balance Merlot’s natural vigor while promoting deep roots, but this harmony only exists on about ten percent of our acreage–the Merlot has the smallest production of our core wines. In the growing season, careful and timely manipulation of the canopy is essential to guarantee the right mixture of sunlight and shade on the grapes—allowing full flavor development while protecting the grapes from excess heat and sun.
If we can strike this balance in the vineyard, the task in the cellar requires no special tricks—just appropriate restraint with extraction during fermentation and in our use of new oak, understanding that Merlot’s full charm is only slowly revealed—it’s the tortoise to Zin or Cabernet’s hare. Of all of our wines, the Merlot benefits the most from aeration upon opening. The reward for one’s effort is something special: power and refinement; rich plum, black cherry and sage aromas with an endless, supple texture. There really is nothing quite like it.