Merlot, Napa, Red blends, Red wine

Newton Merlot Unfiltered 2005

Winemaker: Chris Millard
Grape: 83% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc
Region: Napa Valley, California

See other wines from this producer:
Newton Claret, Red Label

Robert Parker: 91 points

I always think of this outstanding Merlot, when somebody come up with that silly statement “I don’t drink Merlot,” followed by rolling their eyes. I wish I could pour them Newton and they will never, ever repeat that statement again.

Yes, I know, Merlot got a bad name lately, thanks to Paul Giamatti’s character Miles, who consistently trashed it down throughout the iconic wine movie Sideways. Who would ever think that one movie can change the wine industry for years to come!?

But the noble grape of Merlot is one of the most important elements in some of the best wines of the world. Merlot wines can be simple, good or outstanding. The best wines made from Merlot (for example in Bordeaux) are collectibles for its capacity to age for decades.

It is definitely not a simple wine when it comes to Newton Unfiltered Merlot. This wine is a special treat. To me, it is the best in Napa, especially at that price point. The credit for its uniqueness and success will forever belong to Dr. Su Hua Newton, who first set up the tone on Spring Mountain.

Before you taste this wine, you deserve to know the rich and incredible life story of this lady. I have a big admiration for her uncompromising style of work  and perfectionism. But it would take too much space to explain it here – if you are interested, please read my blog An unforgettable dinner with Dr. Su Hua Newton.

Dr. Su Hua Newton was a pioneer and one of the first Napa Valley winemakers to craft unfiltered and naturally fermented wines. Thanks to her almost fanaticism that started in the vineyard: the way she crafted each block separately, following nature and sustainable techniques, when she insisted on the harvest by hand, (perfectly mature bunches only), all the way to the winery – where just natural yeast was used to ferment the wine, to the bottling the wine unfiltered to preserve all its beauty.

Thanks to all those thousands of little details, Newton Vineyard has become one of the most inspiring and fascinating wine estates in the world. Although Dr. Su is now just overseeing the operations, her spirit is still there in every step of the way. And the character of that approach can be felt, when you open any bottle of Newton Red Label wines (Chardonnay, Claret and Cabernet Sauvignon) or the Unfiltered series – Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Puzzle.

The typical pine tree, pictured on every Newton wine label, stands proudly on top of the Spring Mountain, overseeing some of the steepest and most difficult terrains in Napa. The terroire is one part of Newton wine’s success.

The other part is (and I don’t want this to sound like a cliché , but it’s truth) super hard work and respect to the nature. The adrenalin, when everybody else in Napa has already fermented their harvest, and in Newton they are still waiting for the natural yeast to kick in. Is it crazy? Maybe. Brave? Most definitely. Brilliant? For sure!

“All of these wines from their beautiful mountain vineyard are among the most natural made in the world.” said Robert Parker Jr., in his book World’s Great Wine Estates

Tasting notes:
Dark ruby color and beautiful aroma of ripe blackberries, blueberries and herbs. On the palate this wine is robust yet velvety, with hints of raspberries, black cherry and plum. It leaves a trace of cocoa powder or bitter dark chocolate on your tongue.

Oak notes and tannins are delicate and will devolve even more over the time. Although the wine is silky and perfectly approachable right now, it will continue to develop for another 5-10 years, I believe.

This is one of the kind wine, complex, balanced and perfectly crafted. Highest quality, Bordeaux style wine that wouldn’t disappoint the most demanding wine enthusiast.

Dry – Off dry- Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Retail price: about $ 50.00

Ideal food pairing:
Beef BourguignonFlank steak with shitakee sauce, Venison, any grilled meet, Filet Mignon with a crushed black pepper sauce and many more… the chef of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse once paired this wine with a rich chocolate cake. It was insanely great! It turned the wine into liquid velvet… you might want to try it for yourself!

What do you think? Leave me a comment here

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