Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Liparita Carneros Merlot 2000

Liparita Cellars is what they call a “ghost winery” in Napa Valley - a winery founded in the late 19th century and still operating, although in refurbished fashion.  The 1880 establishment date of Liparita more than qualifies it for ghost status.  I don’t know whether or not they operate with a skeleton crew.  Maybe that's reserved for Halloween.

The brand has been resuscitated by owners who took over with the 2006 vintage.  They now produce three Cabernet Sauvignons, from Oakville, Stag’s Leap and Yountville.

This Liparita Merlot is ten years old.  It’s fitting that the somewhat aged wine came from a bygone management at a ghost winery.  It’s a half-bottle I picked up at a wine store sale, marked down from $12 to $6.

The fruit is picked from Beckstoffer’s Las Amigas Vineyard in the Carneros sub-appellation of Napa Valley.  The 2000 Merlot checks in with a manageable 13.9% abv alcohol number.

A bit of the cork crumbled on removal, but I was able to fish out most of the floaties and proceed.  I have read that tartrate crystals cling to the cork in this unfiltered wine, but it was definitely cork in my glass.

The color is dark red, but not inky.  The nose of this Merlot has tons of earthiness, with an underlying layer of dark fruit and a floral aroma reminiscent of violets.  The darkness of the nose really is overwhelming.  Fascinating, in fact.

Upon first tasting the wine, blackberries dominate the palate and that earthy minerality follows closely behind.  The tannins are quite firm and it feels big in the mouth.  The acidity is wonderfully balanced and the wine leaves the palate wanting more with each sip.  This is a very good wine, one of the better wines I’ve had recently.  If you can find it, snap up a bottle - or half bottle in my case - and enjoy.

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