Guenoc California Merlot 2018
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Guenoc Valley lies sixty miles north of San Francisco — a breathtaking panorama of oak-strewn grasslands, rolling green hills, craggy outcroppings and perfect volcanic cinder cones, painted with the shimmer of a dozen azure lakes. The 21,349-acre Langtry Estate is one of the largest contiguous private land holdings in California, and among the most beautiful.
Guenoc wines are sourced from a blend of estate vineyards and premier growing sites from around California. Soils range from rocky volcanic highlands to mountain valleys lined with gravelly riverbeds. The combination of these unique sites allows us to produce wines that exemplify the diversity found in these distinct regions.
Guenoc California wines embody the independent spirit of famed actress and winery founder, Lillie Langtry, who defied the conventions of her time and forged her own path, becoming a Lake County vintner in 1888. The wines are fresh, vivacious, and distinctly California.
Today the fourth most widely planted red variety in the state, Merlot has much to offer. While it bears similarities to Cabernet Sauvignon (its half-sibling), it tends to be lower in both acidity and tannins, giving Merlot wines a mouthfeel that is often perceived as soft, round and plush. These qualities make it an ideal blending partner for Cabernet, the two complementing each other throughout.
Merlot arrived relatively late to the California wine scene. It wasn’t until the 1970’s when producers like Louis Martini, Sterling and Matanzas Creek—influenced by European Merlot blends—began crafting single varietal versions. These trend-setting bottles opened the eyes of others in the California wine scene and spurred increased plantings. From there, the variety’s lush drinkability led to a surge in popularity, then overplanting (some of it on unsuitable sites) and finally a backlash that was turbo-charged by the infamous 2004 film, Sideways. What most viewers didn't realize was that, as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot with Cabernet Franc.
Fine examples of California Merlot—either as a single varietal wine or as part of a blend—can be found from Napa Valley, Sonoma County, the Central Coast and most regions around the state. Merlot wines offer a ripe, sensual mouthful of plummy fruit, suggestions of mint, herbs and vanilla, all carried along by an approachable structure and often, a great potential for improving with age.