Paloma Merlot wine is a veritable youngster in the world of wine, with its first bottling unveiled in 2001. It quickly gained a reputation as one of the highest quality Merlots in the country, and in each successive year, the winery has produced another batch of award-winning Merlot.
Making Paloma Merlot
Estate Merlot and Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is blended together to make Paloma Merlot, with the latter making up between 12 and 18 percent of the wine, depending on the vintage. The small 15-acre vineyard from which the grapes are harvested has very small groups of grapevines with fruit that ripens at various times. After the grapes are destemmed, they are cracked open by a vintage stemmer/crusher customized through removing the crusher rollers. The subsequent fermentation takes place in small stainless steel tanks and open top fermenters. The grape pomace is then lightly pressed through an old-fashioned basket press, followed by settling in a stainless steel tank. The winemaker then uses French oak barrels to age the wine for 19 months before bottling.
Although the Paloma Merlot wines are full-flavored and ready to enjoy after the oak barrel aging, most of them improve with age for ten to 15 years. Each vintage has its own distinct characteristics but all have a consistent mixture of intricate aromas of chocolate, tobacco, spice, dark berry fruits and black stone fruits with mineral nuances and floral tinges. Your palate will be treated to a silky feel of well-balanced flavors that incorporate the tastes of fruit, berries, spices, cassis and cocoa, followed by a luxuriant spicy finish. Paloma Merlot has mild fruit tannins that highlight the individual fruit tastes of the wine.
The Richards family that founded the Paloma Vineyards and Winery first visited the Napa Valley in the late 1970s and was immediately smitten by the lush countryside and friendly people. Although they lived in Midland, Texas, the family couldn't deny the draw to Napa and their dream to own a vineyard. It took a few years to find the perfect location, which a friend in Napa Valley helped locate, and the Richards bought the property that eventually became the Paloma Vineyard and Winery in 1983.
For the first seven years, the Richards learned about growing wine grapes from their neighbors and through trial and error. Before they built their winery in 1990, they sold most of the grapes they grew to other local wineries, reserving a few clusters here and there to try their hand at wine making.
The Sweet Taste of Success
Just three years later, the winery's 2001 Paloma Merlot earned an impressive score of 95 from Wine Spectator Magazine, one of the most prestigious wine publications in the country. The same vintage was chosen as the magazine's 2003 Wine of the Year. These rave reviews resulted in the 2001 bottling selling out a just a few days. Every year since 2003, Paloma Merlots have consistently been hailed as some of the best ever produced in California and generally receive ratings in the 80s and 90s by wine experts and connoisseurs.
Paloma Merlot is available across the country in select wine stores and can be purchased online through many vendors. Depending on the vintage, it runs between $50 and $75 a bottle, with discounts available on case purchases.