Merryvale Pinot Noir Carneros 2010

merryvale 2010 was a difficult year in the Napa Valley. Too cool. Everyone says so. It must be true. But sometimes a difficult year means lower alcohol and more elegance. Merryvale’s 2010 offering satisfies on that score.

Dark, graceful, and enticing this smooth operator will please fans of classic pinot. A little reticent at first, but a few minutes of air encourages black cherry, hints of red raspberry and cinnamon top notes to show up, evolving into  loamy earth and licorice. On the palate, cranberry and more licorice continue through the juicy medium length finish.

The 12 months in French oak (44% new) provide plenty of spice and a little toast with no hint of woodiness.

Firm and fleshy but well-disciplined, this wine is all about texture—velvet but with enough intensity to hold your interest.

The tannins don’t grab; the acidity refreshes; the 13.5% alcohol harkens back to an earlier style that entices rather than demands.

A charming companion for an evening. Drink it now.

Good: Velvet texture

Bad: It won’t hit you in the face (that’s bad?)

Distinctive: Restraint and elegance

Excellent value at $30-$35

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