2013 Paloma Vineyard, Merlot, Spring Mountain District, Napa Napa.
Deeply flavored and colored, the 2013 Paloma Merlot, coming from high up on Spring Mountain, is beautifully structured with some Mountain tannins giving it an almost Cabernet Sauvignon like feel and presence, while the 10 years of age have brought a sense of regal grace and proportion. The full bodied palate of this vintage of Paloma Merlot unfolds with opulence and an expansion of dark fruit delivering blackberry, currant, black cherry and plum along with warm sandalwood, florals, sage, vanilla and mocha. Smooth and ripe tannins have folded in nice here with only a whisper of their presence appearing, just to keep things from getting boring and allowing this wine to be excellent with food and highlight the underlying power of this Spring Mountain terroir. For most vintages, the Paloma Merlot averages between 10% to 15% Cabernet Sauvignon in the final blend, which adds to the complexity here with the grapes getting separate picks and fermentations and then blended to taste by the winemaking team after some time in barrel. There’s plenty to admire here in Paloma’s classic Right Bank style Merlot and in the world of outrageously Napa wines, this remains one of the best values you’ll get in the region.

The Paloma Vineyard, founded by Jim and Barbara Richards back in 1994, is surely one of the best Merlot producers in California and Washington, along with Shafer, Ridge, and Leonetti to name a few and it is always a treat to taste their wine. Paloma, influenced by Duckhorn of old and of course neighbors Pride, which is not too far away on Spring Mountain, is still handed crafted by the Richards family, now led by Sheldon Richards and his mom Barbara, after the sad loss of Jim, who passed away a few years ago. Paloma which is Spanish for “dove” sits on a steep and tree-lined ridge at the very top of Spring Mountain, perched high up above the Napa Valley with tiny and unique clusters of mini climate parcels planted mainly to Merlot, but also with a percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon, both of which thrive here. The Paloma Vineyard is usually close to 10 degrees cooler on hot summer days than on the valley floor and the less hot temperatures, sun exposure, plus the volcanic soils all give these fabulous Merlots a unique character. The winemaker is all about not over shadowing the quality of the grapes with a traditional fermentation and aging regiment that includes 18 to 24 months in toasty French oak, with a high percentage of new Bordeaux style barrels to tame the natural tannin. I can see this wine aging well for another 5 to 7 years, and I look forward to trying the upcoming 2018 soon, which should be absolutely awesome!
($69 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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