Markham Napa Valley Vineyards Merlot 2019

Deep ruby color; cherry, plum, raspberry, vanilla, cedar on the nose; black cherry, raspberry, plum, chocolate, spice on the palate.

Markham Napa Valley Vineyards Merlot 2019

Dry; soft, velvety tannins and reserved acidity (3.70 pH). Blend of 85% merlot, 6% petite sirah, 4% cabernet sauvignon, 3% syrah, 2% malbec. Fermented 96% in stainless steel, 4% in barrel. Aged just over two years in oak barrels, 31% new. Soft and mellow in the mouth. Medium-plus body. Juicy, easy drinker with a wee bit of attitude on the finish. 14.6% ABV

This is an excellent entry-level offering from a leading producer of merlot in the Napa Valley. A value at $24-26; expect to pay double or more for their single-vineyard, single-block efforts. Kimberlee Nicholls is the winemaker, one of the first female winemakers in the Napa Valley. She has been a winegrower and winemaker since 2001. She supervises 350 acres of Napa Green certified sustainable estate vineyards in Yountville, Oak Knoll, and Calistoga. Markham Vineyards hold Napa Green Land, Napa Green Winery, and Fish Friendly Farming certifications.

Founded in 1874, Markham is one of the Napa Valley pioneers. It has operated continuously since its founding, albeit under different names. It is the fourth-oldest continuously operating winery in Napa County. The present-day winery still uses the stone cellar built in 1879.

Jean Laurent

Jean Laurent, an immigrant from Bordeaux, arrived in the region in 1852 as part of the California Gold Rush. Laurent’s wines earned acclaim through the 1880s. Laurent died in 1890. A succession of owners operated the winery until Bruce Markham purchased the winery in 1978. Markham consolidated vineyards and increased production from 3,500 cases a year to some 20,000 over the next decade. A US Navy veteran, Markham instituted a tradition of firing a small signal cannon to mark the start of each harvest. The cannon on the label celebrates that tradition.

Markham vineyard

In 1988, Markham sold his winery to Japanese wine and spirits producer Mercian Corporation. Mercian initiated a four-year, multimillion-dollar renovation, expansion, and replanting program. The efforts more than doubled Markham’s production. In 2019, they became part of Distinguished Vineyards & Wine Partners, which is owned by the Japanese company Kirin. Kirin units include Kirin Brewery Company, Mercian, and Kirin Beverages. Kirin is a member of the Mitsubishi Group.

Markham Vineyards winemaker Kimberlee Nicholls

Markham Napa Valley Vineyards Merlot 2019 is classic soft, subtle, eager-to-please pour from the premier merlot maker in Napa Valley. Opulent notes of cherry and plum. Pair with grilled or roasted chicken and other chicken dishes—including chicken pizza; roasted vegetables; lamb; lighter cuts of beef; comfort food—meatloaf, burgers and sliders, pizza, pasta with meat; pulled pork; Asian-style pork chops; shepherd’s pie. Cheese—versatile; semi-hard cheese, muenster, brie, parmesan, colby, gorgonzola, camembert, gouda, aged asiago. Try shortbread crackers with figs, pecans, and blue cheese. $29-31

Markham Vineyards website

Markham Winery
Markham vineyard