Wine Recommendation
  Sign In
Subscribe to our newsletter
Bookmark and Share  
print this review     

Wine Recommendation

Wine: Sullivan Vineyards 2003 Merlot, Estate (Rutherford)

Sullivan Vineyards

2003 Merlot, Estate
(Rutherford ~ Napa Valley)

I first tasted Sullivan Vineyard’s wines about five years ago at about the same time that French-born winemaker Philippe Langner had arrived at the small family run Rutherford property. Langner hadn’t yet put his stamp on the wines, and I wasn’t very impressed.

Cut to 2006. It’s evident that Langner’s hands are all over the wines now. His wines tend to be restrained, and in the Bordeaux style. Now, I’m impressed.

The 2003 estate Merlot is a perfect example of what I mean. There are sweet, aromatic aromas wafting from the glass with a hint of cinnamon. On the palate, the wine is soft, lovely and silky, despite the fact that Langner chose to use American oak (45 percent of the barrel regimen). But make no mistake, this wine has guts, enough for aging up to 10 years. The fruit is bright as can be and the whole is totally in balance.

About the oak: The wine was fermented for 22 months in French (55 percent of the whole) wood. The entire formula was 22 percent new oak, 55 percent 1-vintage, and 23 percent 2-year-old barrels. The grapes were picked at 23.5 Brix, which resulted in a 13.8 percent final listed alcohol percentage. There were 330 cases produced.

Reviewed December 21, 2006 by Alan Goldfarb.

The Wine

Winery: Sullivan Vineyards
Vineyard: Estate
Vintage: 2003
Wine: Merlot
Appellation: Rutherford ~ Napa Valley
Grapes: Merlot (90%), Cabernet Sauvignon (10%)
Price: 750ml $50.00

Review Date: 12/21/2006

The Reviewer

Alan Goldfarb

Alan Goldfarb has been writing about and reviewing wine for 17 years. His reviews have been published in the St. Helena Star, San Jose Mercury, San Francisco Examiner, Decanter, and Wine Enthusiast, among others. Not once has he used a point system, star system, or an iconic symbol to quantify a wine. What counts in Mr. Goldfarb’s criteria when judging a wine is: how it tastes in the glass; is it well-constructed; its food compatibility; and presence of redeeming regional attributes.