2016 Frog's Leap Rutherford Merlot

SKU #1412272 93 points Wine & Spirits

 Hmm. Dry-farmed merlot in Napa Valley? John Williams and his team at Frog’s Leap grow some of the freshest, prettiest merlot in a region where the variety is mostly irrigated and taken to extremes of richness. They focus this wine on fruit from their estate vineyard surrounding the winery on the east side of Rutherford, where the cool clay soils near the Napa River provide shelter for the vine roots while the heat of the day ripens the fruit. One taste of this wine may have you wondering why more growers don’t follow their lead. I don’t think I’ve ever written "sing-song merlot" to describe the variety in Napa Valley, but there it is in my notes on this red-fruited wine, a mouthwatering depiction of red plums, savory chewing tobacco and light, brisk, gentle tannins. (JR)  (6/2019)

K&L Notes

From the winery: "2016 has given us another outstanding classic Merlot continuing a tradition reaching back to 1990. All of our 2016 reds are showing tremendous depth and richness across the flavors. Merlot with its well-deserved reputation for plushness particularly shines in a vintage like this. We added a splash of Cabernet sauvignon this year just to stiffen the spine of the wine but make no mistake this is Merlot in all of its finery through and through. Bright plummy and red berry flavors lead the way but it is the texture of the wine that will stay with you. I’m thinking of a lightly-seared veal chop with a creamy sauce of early fall morels myself. Drinkable right now? Absolutely. But don’t be afraid to put down a few of these beauties in the cellar. You will thank me later."

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Price: $39.95

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- A very popular red grape variety found in the great wines of St. Emilion and Pomerol. It is the most planted variety in Bordeaux, and it has also become an extremely fashionable red in many regions including California. Although it has a reputation to be smooth, and easy to drink when young, Merlot is also capable of producing extremely intense wines as well. It is often used as a blending agent with Cabernet Sauvignon.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world.


- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year.
Specific Appellation:

Napa Valley

- America's most famous wine region, which encompasses a varied geographical territory running about 20 miles long from the San Francisco Bay northward to the foot of Mount St. Helena. Napa's great diversity, both in terms of climate and terroir, has led to the creation of a number of smaller AVAs like Stags Leap District, Rutherford, Howell Mountain, Oakville and Mount Veeder, among others. Cabernet and chardonnay still reign supreme, but just about everything under the sun is grown in Napa Valley, in quality levels ranging from $2 jug wine to $500 a bottle California cab.