Swanson Vineyards 2006 Merlot Seminar Merlot: The Untold Story

For the third year, Swanson Vineyards is taking its “Merlot Fights Back” seminar on the road, getting people to re-think this complex varietal. Why Merlot and why now? Swanson is singlehandedly trying to rescue Merlot from being maligned, re-introducing Merlot as the marvelous and complicated grape fundamental to magnificent red wines made around the world.

Why Swanson? Swanson Vineyards, founded in 1985 by Clarke Swanson, is the largest single producer of estate-grown Merlot in the Napa Valley, and is a leader in growing and vinifying outstanding Merlots. Swanson is taking a stand against the tide of negativity around Merlot: this seminar sets the record straight on a much misunderstood and maligned varietal.

Winemaker Chris Phelps and General Manager Stuart Harrison will present three flights of Merlots, including 8 Merlots from around the world and a flight of Swanson barrel samples. “We’re looking at Merlot from a global perspective, tasting and talking about the realities of the varietal worldwide,” they explain.

svVertSmDid you know how important clay in a merlot vineyard’s soil is? Did you realize that the wine Miles (in Sideways) hoarded and opened on his birthday was a ’61 Cheval Blanc, a 50/50 cepage of Merlot and Cabernet Franc? These are just a taste of the connoisseurship of Merlot the seminar will provide. The purpose of the seminar is to demonstrate that “not all Merlots are created equal.” By tasting 15 different Merlots, the seminar vividly demonstrates how the grape behaves in the vineyards and what natural attributes of the grape have led to its exceptional popularity.

The unique identity of Swanson Merlot is the result of a strict focus on the estate-grown concept. Between Swanson’s two Oakville properties, the winery cultivates just over 50 acres of Merlot, and has complete control over all aspects of winegrowing. Oakville is one of Napa’s foremost red wine appellations and Swanson grows its Merlot entirely within the boundaries of this A.V.A. The majority of Swanson Merlot comes from its “Oakville Cross Road” Vineyard, located just across the Napa River from Opus One, across the road from Silver Oak, and down the street from Groth, PlumpJack and Rudd. A smaller portion comes from Swanson’s other Oakville property, along bench land adjacent to the western Mayacamas foothills.