Bourassa Vineyards Merlot Reserve Napa Valley 2006

Inky, almost black color; cherry, lavender, spice nose; powerful cherry, dark fruits, plum, chocolate, toasty oak, vanilla on the palate.

Bourassa Vineyards Merlot Reserve Napa Valley 2006

Serious tannins (improves with air—almost mandatory decant, there also are sediments, which add to the depth of flavors but need to be left in the bottle), nice acidity for this sort of big CA red. Multiple layers of complexity. Smoothness of merlot (75% of the blend) with touch of the austereness and structure of cabernet sauvignon—25% of blend. Drinks like a monster California version of a right-bank Bordeaux.

This is serious red from winemaker Vic Bourassa that avoids jammy, has velvety mouthfeel, significant complexity on the finish. Bourassa Vineyards Merlot Reserve Napa Valley is among the bigger merlots you are going to find, and it is worth finding. Pour a glass and hang on for the ride.

According to the website, the winery’s epiphanic moment occurred when Vic Bourassa had lunch with iconic Robert Mondavi in 1999. Bourassa had been working for three years in real estate development in Napa and had put his toe into the vat of winemaking. Bourassa poured Mondavi a homemade Napa pinot noir, and after a few sips Mondavi encouraged the novice Bourassa to begin a new professional career as a winemaker. At that lunch, at that moment, Bourassa Vineyards was born.

Today, Vic and his wife Kathy focus on classic Bordeaux varietals—cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, malbec, and petit verdot. This wine has the profile of a right bank Bordeaux, but it has California power and exuberance in every sip. No wonder Robert Mondavi encouraged Bourassa’s efforts. $100-120

Bourassa Vineyards website

Vic Bourassa and family