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1999 Pahlmeyer Merlot

1999 Pahlmeyer Merlot

94 WS

From the critics:

93 VM

87 RP

Featured Review
A mouthful of wine that packs in lots of rich, deep, plush and concentrated flavors, with tiers of currant, blackberry, raspberry and wild berry fruit. Well-integrated tannins smooth out the finish. Drink now through 2010. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. 1,475 cases made. Wine Spectator

Wine Spectator | 94 WS

Critic Reviews

A mouthful of wine that packs in lots of rich, deep, plush and concentrated flavors, with tiers of currant, blackberry, raspberry and wild berry fruit. Well-integrated tannins smooth out the finish. Drink now through 2010. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. 1,475 cases made.

Wine Spectator | 94 WS
Good full medium ruby. Superripe aromas of black fruits, maple syrup, mocha and graphite; at once roasted and vibrant. Supersweet in the mouth, with sappy black fruit and mineral flavors over a firm backbone. Shapelier and a bit less roasted than the 2000, with firm supporting backbone. This is very impressively concentrated California merlot; the fruit spreads out and builds on the very long, firmly tannic back end. I underrated this wine from barrel a year ago.

Vinous Media | 93 VM

Wine Details for 1999 Pahlmeyer Merlot

Type of Wine California Red : Whether it's Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah or Zinfandel, Californian red wine producers have a lovely habit of taking a varietal and expressing its essence in a unique, never before seen way. From Napa Valley to the regions south of Los Angeles, there's a red for everyone - and it's never too late to start exploring.
Varietal Merlot : With 266,000 hectares (657,300 acres) of vines spanning the planet, Merlot lands in 2nd place among all grape varietals planted in the world. Despite its inability to crack the top spot for most popular grape, it has remained under the radar performing as silent majority in the hallowed soils of its own origin, Bordeaux. Merlot is the most widely cultivated grape varietal in France, dominating the southwest regions, most notably, the Right bank. It is the body, mind and soul of some of the most collectable, influential and revered wines in the world.

Merlot has never had its time in the spotlight; nevertheless, has been quietly supplying the backbone for some of the most prominent wines in the Right Back since the 18th century. Merlot first appeared in French literature in 1784 when a French official claimed the wines produced from ‘Merlau’ (local French Dialect for Merlot) were the finest of its time. It is speculated that the name Merlot is derived from the French word, ‘Merle,’ meaning black bird. Whether the namesake is due to its small, deep black colored berries or the little black birds which had an affinity for the early ripening berries is still unknown. French researchers, using complex DNA fingerprinting technology (first developed by UC Davis) have concluded that Merlot is the offspring of French varietals, Cabernet Franc and Magdeleine Noire.

The Noble Bordeaux Varietal of Merlot thrives in its natural host on the Right Bank of the Gironde estuary, where the terroir is composed of rich clay, sand, limestone and iron deposits; and excels in temperate, Mediterranean, maritime climates. It dominates the vineyards of Pomerol and Saint Emilion, which have bred wines of unrivaled quality such as Chateau Petrus and Le Pin (both 100% Merlot). Merlot eventually infiltrated the Medoc (Left Bank) where it found similar and hospitable soils; ultimately influencing the wines produced there by helping to “soften” the varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Its first appearance in America was documented in 1850 when French nurseryman, Antoine Delmas, brought French vines to the Santa Clara Valley.

Its inhabitance would inevitably spread to terroir hotspots around the world, such as Italy, Spain, Argentina, South Africa and nearly every wine-producing country in the world. The great and world-renowned Christian Mouiex inclined to state that “when the Merlot grape is planted on the proper terroir and harvested at its peak it produces a wine that is characterized as voluptuous, generous and distinctive.”

Merlot may not dwell in the spotlight, nor possess savvy titles like its relative, Cabernet Sauvignon but rather, is the blue-collar of grape varieties, laboring to produce some of the greatest wines in the world. Though Merlot was traditionally considered a secondary and blending varietal (which it is quite successful at) conversely, is quite sustainable and capable on its own. From the illustrious Chateau Petrus in Pomerol, to Pahlmeyer in the famed Napa Valley and on to the Tuscan Legend, Masseto, all of which are composed of 100% Merlot, prove the importance and resilience of the Merlot grape varietal. The magic of Merlot has entranced the world with its subtle, soft, sensuous texture and adaptability as well also its aptitude for producing wines that can age effortlessly for decades.

Country US : As one of the most prolific and innovative wine regions in the world, America is a joy to explore. Most wine connoisseurs will agree that the nation's finest and most compelling wines are being produced today, which means that we have front-row seats to one of the most inspirational stories in wine history. While other regions tend to focus on specific wine styles and have somewhat strict rules as to which varietals you could grow, areas like California have few such restrictions in place. As a result, creative visionaries behind America's most reputable estates have been able to develop compelling, unique, and innovative styles, with a level of terroir expression that rivals even France's largest giants.
Region California : With a history of wine production that dates back to the 18th century, California currently sits as one of the world's most prolific and reputable wine regions. With an area as vast as California, you can expect a colorful collage of terroir profiles, a series of microclimates, and micro-environments that give the wine a unique, memorable appeal. The region's produce is far from homogenized in that sense, and it would take you countless hours to sample all of it. While the region boasts scars from the Prohibition era, it went through what can only be described as a viticultural Renaissance sometime after the 1960s. At that point, California went from a port-style, sweet wine region to a versatile and compelling competitor on the world market. Today, no matter which way your taste in wine leans, you can find a new favorite producer among California's most talented.

Notable sub-regions include legendary names like Napa Valley and Sonoma County, places that any wine lover would die to visit. California's quintessential warm climate allows for incredibly ripe fruit expressions, a style that provides a stark contrast to Old World-inspired, earthy classics. Even where inspiration was clearly taken from staple French appellations, Californian winemakers put their own unique spin on the wine.
Subregion Napa Valley
Appellation Atlas Peak


Producer Pahlmeyer : When the only dream one has assaults every waking minute and is such a force that it becomes a hypnotic captivation, the passion and desire to fulfill that dream must be undaunted. When that dream is ripped from outstretched arms, the individual can fight or take flight. Drive and determination is what allowed Jayson Pahlmeyer’s dream to become reality.

Pahlmeyer’s insatiable thirst for adventure and his yearning to create a “California Mouton,” in the northern part of the Golden State, his native soil, which he believed to hold tremendous winegrowing potential, led him on an arduous journey. He partnered with the owner of a 55-acre site in Napa Valley, who shared the same dream of producing a California First Growth. The key was planting the finest French clones of Bordeaux varietals, which created a roadblock since importing clones is an international offense.

Pahlmeyer would then spend a considerable amount of time researching the finest French vineyards in order to locate an exact match needed to plant the clones in their California soil. Soil samples were tested by viticultural professors at the University of Bordeaux, who analyzed exposure, rainfall, and temperature data. The professional recommendation was for them to plant corn on their Napa property.

Undaunted, Pahlmeyer and his partner’s persistence finally paid off three years later when the professors located the exact Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec vines with the greatest ability of being successful. The vines were of great intensity, depth of flavor and character. With the clones acquired and smuggled into the US through the Canadian border, his dream was close to coming to fruition.

The clones were planted in 1981, but the French cuttings were slow to adjust to the soil. Randy Dunn (widely recognized for his “no nonsense” approach to winemaking), caught wind of the operation and visited the site and warned them, “Don’t screw it up.” They didn’t and in 1986 Dunn approached them about buying their entire crop. An agreement was made and Dunn would make Jayson’s “Pahlmeyer” Napa Velley Bordeaux blend. That 1986 vintage achieved a 94-point score by Robert Parker and a legend was born.

Success comes with the willingness to accept advice and sometimes criticism. Over the years Pahlmeyer would be guided by some of the Napa Valley greats from Dunn to Bob Levy, and on to Helen Turley. Turley urged Pahlmeyer to push quality to even greater heights by developing estate vineyards and was instrumental in finding his high-elevation Napa Valley estate vineyard in 1988. The vineyards, situated on the ridge of Atlas Peak were planted to red Bordeaux varietals and Chardonnay that same year. David Abreu was hired to develop the land and Turley was a large contributor to its success. Pahlmeyer states that Helen Turley told him, “If you want to be a first-growth, you have to have your own vineyards.”

And so… Pahlmeyer’s dream of creating an iconic Bordeaux blend in the soils of California became reality. His Proprietary Red, Chardonnay and Merlot are highly sought after and are creations of sheer determination and excellence.

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