Wine Recommendation
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Wine Recommendation

Cakebread Cellars 2003 Merlot

Cakebread Cellars

2003 Merlot
(Napa Valley)

This unusual blend made by winemaker Julianne Laks adds up to a very substantial, interesting, and well-made wine from a family that has been making wine in the Napa Valley for more than 30 years.

The blend is comprised mostly, of course, of Merlot (81 percent) and the little-used Malbec (less than 3 percent), which is the least popular of the five classic red Bordeaux varieties grown in the Napa Valley. There’s also a touch (little more than 2.5 percent) of Syrah.

What it adds up to is a wine that has lots of blackberry aromas with a touch of earthiness and tar. The structure is substantial, which means it’ll age well (for up to 15 years I think), but it’s tight right now. Nonetheless, the wine is balanced, with evident tannins and hints of chocolate and cocoa powder and good black fruit. Hold onto it for a couple of years and then dig in.

Eighty-six percent of the grapes come from Cakebread’s up-Valley holdings, while the remainder comes from its southern-most vineyards in the Carneros. The listed alcohol is 14.9 percent. The wine was aged for 1½ years in French wood, half of which was new.

Reviewed August 1, 2006 by Alan Goldfarb.

Other reviewed wines from Cakebread Cellars


The Wine

Winery: Cakebread Cellars
Vintage: 2003
Wine: Merlot
Appellation: Napa Valley
Grapes: Merlot (81%), Cabernet Sauvignon (13%), Malbec (3%), Syrah / Shiraz (3%)
Price: 750ml $49.00

Review Date: 8/1/2006

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.