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Judd's Hill Merlot Napa Valley 1999

Winemaker's Notes:

About This Wine: A cuvee of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc from our terraced hillside vineyards located in the hills east of St. Helena in California’s Napa Valley. An impressive combination of juicy ripe black plum and late season Bing cherry flavors, with overtones of spices and sweet French oak. This is a well balanced wine, produced in the Bordeaux manner, exhibiting great structure and intensity. By fermenting in small open top tanks we are able to rein in the runaway tannins sometimes associated with hillside fruit. Historically our wines are ready to drink upon release but will age beautifully, with all the sophisticated nuances one would expect from a super premium vendage. The 1999 vintage is a departure for Judd’s Hill in that we have done away with the “Cabernet Sauvignon” designation for our premium wine. This provides us the latitude to blend the three estate grown varietals in any proportion we feel will provide the best possible results. This is a major step for us, but one which will allow us to produce even greater wines now and in the future. About The Vineyard: The grapes for Judd’s Hill Estate come from hillside vineyards located outside of St. Helena in the eastern foothills. Five clones of Cabernet Sauvignon are planted on this steeply sloping terrain giving us the opportunity to produce a multi-dimensional wine of great complexity. Blended with small amounts of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this wine is deep, dark garnet in color with subtle aromas of violets, blueberries, smoke and black tea. On the palate, the wine delivers dense, wild blackberries, blueberries and currant fruit that is nicely integrated with cigar box, cedar, earth and chocolate notes. A supple, juicy wine ready to drink now and that will benefit from additional bottle aging. Food Pairings: Our Estate Cabernet pairs nicely with a whole range of foods from roast beef to duck to turkey. It is also a favorite match with a broad selection of strong flavored cheeses. About The Winery: Artisanal. Small. Hands on. Family. Nestled in the Napa Valley. These are the hallmarks of Judd’s Hill Winery, the life work of Art and Bunnie Finkelstein and their son Judd and his wife Holly. Art has been a winemaker for more than 30 years, beginning in his garage in Los Angeles when he worked as an architect during the day. He rethought his life and brought his family to the Napa Valley in the 1970s to found Whitehall Lane Winery in St. Helena. When that grew too large, they built Judd’s Hill, where the family focuses on making less than 3,000 cases a year of hand-crafted, ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Petite Sirah and Syrah. Napa Valley visitors and friends know the Finkelsteins’ domain to overflow with a hugely personal mix of interests and talents, from Judd’s ukulele playing to Holly’s hula dancing to Art’s pottery and cooking and Bunnie’s love of poetry, tuba-playing and knitting. This array of art and the arts may be unique among Napa Valley winemaking families. “The process of winemaking is extraordinary in my experience,” Art says. “It has to be the most complex and challenging of all art forms. I am amazed by it.”

Region: USA » California » Napa
Winery: Judd's Hill
Color: Red
Varietal: Merlot
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Member Reviews for Judd's Hill Merlot Napa Valley

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Snooth User: Agent Red
27951206
4.50 5
06/26/2008

Mission Codename: Music to our lips Redux Operative: Agent Red Objective: Infiltrate Judd’s Hill winery, penetrate deep into their archives and return with the last of their fabled 1999 Estate Blend Mission Status: Accomplished! Current Winery: Judd’s Hill Wine Subject: 1999 Estate Blend (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc) Winemaker: Art Finkelstein Backgrounder: Our Operatives we so enamored with the Judd’s Hill wine we featured here a little while back, that they have been demanding that we send an Agent to retrieve another wine. Our new friends at Judd’s Hill readily opened up their private vault to us and, together, we selected their beautiful 1999 Cab blend, a perfect and ready-to-drink blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Read Agent Red’s complete tasting profile below, followed by his original mission report. Wine Spies Tasting Profile: Look – Great color on this ‘older’ vintage wine. Where we have seen 1999’s that show as brown or slightly orange, indicating poor aging, this wine is deep burgundy to garnet, with a deep concentration of purple-burgundy at its heart, concentrated color to its edges, and a very bouncy surface that takes ages to settle when swirled as it leaves behind chunky that make their way slowly down the glass Smell – Dark and deeply layered with concentrated fruit of dark plum, mixed dark berries, ripe raspberry, dark and smoky blueberry with spice, licorice, older oak and a wonderful and subtle shot of Bazooka Joe Bubble Gum! Feel – Soft, then mouth-coating, rich and round, this wine has a wonderful feel that is at first wet, but then soft to medium tannins grip in coating the mouth and lips with a slightly dryness Taste – Rich, deep concentrations of dark stonefruit, with obvious red cherry, smoked acerola cherry, blackberry preserves, subtle cigar box, spice, licorice and green sweetwoods Finish – Big, dark, sweet, tasty, flavorful and delicious, with flavors that go on and on, with supple tannins that add a hint of tart dryness Conclusion – Sha-BANG! Another mouthwatering masterpiece from Art Finklestein, master winemaker at Judd’s Hill. It must be so gratifying to blend a great wine and then to pop open a bottle nearly 10 years after making it, only to discover that it has evolved and aged so beautifully. Winemaking is an art and a science that we are always in awe of, particularly when experiencing a wine like today’s amazing blend. As great as this wine is today, we can’t wait to try a bottle every few years. Be sure to pick up enough to enjoy a bottle now, and then again after a bit more aging. Mission Report: What follows is our original mission report, in which Agent Red first comes to meet Judd’s Hill Winery It was the end of a very long day – and I was dog tired. I had been on a mission in Napa Valley that took way longer that I had anticipated and I still had to drive to Monterey County for an early morning surveillance. I decided to stop in San Francisco for dinner and parked near my favorite Thai restaurant, only to find that it had closed for remodeling. Just great. It was dark, I was feeling glum and I had no idea where to eat. I moped back toward my car and, as I was getting in, heard the thin sound of music coming from a nearby alley. Even though I could not quite make it out over the sounds of the street, it had a lively feel to it and I found myself drawn toward it. As I neared the building that the sweet sounds emanated from , the music became clearer. It was Hawaiian music. Hapa haole Hawaiian music, actually. A great vintage sound, with ukulele and steel guitar and happy vocals. My spirits lifted. That is, until a wall of a man blocked me from entering the building. I looked up… and up… and up some more. A very serious looking Polynesian stared down at me. “Private party, sir, sorry”, he siad in the deepest voice I had ever heard. Before I could answer, a voice from behind me in the alleyway called out, “Its okay, Pea, he’s with me.” (”Pea”?) I turned to see a cardboard box being thrust into my arms. Obviously a case of wine, I went along with this young stranger and followed him inside. He motioned me to set the case down among several other cases of wine. Each box was labeled with “Judd’s Hill”. I set the box down and the smiling stranger extended his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Judd.” Judd’s Hill. Judd. He saw me looking from the wine to him and said, “Yup, my family’s winery! You like wine?” Needless to say, the rest of the evening was filled with frivolity, great wine, cool music, fantastic food and great people. After watching Judd (grape grower, winemaker, musician, performer and artist) and his group, The Maikai Gents Featuring The Mysterious Miss Mauna Loa, perform, Judd told me all about his winemaking family and their artisanal ways. The evening was just what the Spy Doctor ordered and the wine struck me as one of the best I had tasted all year. Right there at the party, Judd agreed to devoting an allocation to our Operatives. My bad-day-turned-great-evening is your reward, dear Operative. Today’s wine is sweet music to your lips! Wine Spies Vineyard Check: The location of the Judd’s Hill winery can be seen in this satellite photo: (visit www.thewinespies.com)



About This Wine: A cuvee of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc from our terraced hillside vineyards located in the hills east of St. Helena in California’s Napa Valley. An impressive combination of juicy ripe black plum and late season Bing cherry flavors, with overtones of spices and sweet French oak. This is a well balanced wine, produced in the Bordeaux manner, exhibiting great structure and intensity. By fermenting in small open top tanks we are able to rein in the runaway tannins sometimes associated with hillside fruit. Historically our wines are ready to drink upon release but will age beautifully, with all the sophisticated nuances one would expect from a super premium vendage. The 1999 vintage is a departure for Judd’s Hill in that we have done away with the “Cabernet Sauvignon” designation for our premium wine. This provides us the latitude to blend the three estate grown varietals in any proportion we feel will provide the best possible results. This is a major step for us, but one which will allow us to produce even greater wines now and in the future. About The Vineyard: The grapes for Judd’s Hill Estate come from hillside vineyards located outside of St. Helena in the eastern foothills. Five clones of Cabernet Sauvignon are planted on this steeply sloping terrain giving us the opportunity to produce a multi-dimensional wine of great complexity. Blended with small amounts of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this wine is deep, dark garnet in color with subtle aromas of violets, blueberries, smoke and black tea. On the palate, the wine delivers dense, wild blackberries, blueberries and currant fruit that is nicely integrated with cigar box, cedar, earth and chocolate notes. A supple, juicy wine ready to drink now and that will benefit from additional bottle aging. Food Pairings: Our Estate Cabernet pairs nicely with a whole range of foods from roast beef to duck to turkey. It is also a favorite match with a broad selection of strong flavored cheeses. About The Winery: Artisanal. Small. Hands on. Family. Nestled in the Napa Valley. These are the hallmarks of Judd’s Hill Winery, the life work of Art and Bunnie Finkelstein and their son Judd and his wife Holly. Art has been a winemaker for more than 30 years, beginning in his garage in Los Angeles when he worked as an architect during the day. He rethought his life and brought his family to the Napa Valley in the 1970s to found Whitehall Lane Winery in St. Helena. When that grew too large, they built Judd’s Hill, where the family focuses on making less than 3,000 cases a year of hand-crafted, ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Petite Sirah and Syrah. Napa Valley visitors and friends know the Finkelsteins’ domain to overflow with a hugely personal mix of interests and talents, from Judd’s ukulele playing to Holly’s hula dancing to Art’s pottery and cooking and Bunnie’s love of poetry, tuba-playing and knitting. This array of art and the arts may be unique among Napa Valley winemaking families. “The process of winemaking is extraordinary in my experience,” Art says. “It has to be the most complex and challenging of all art forms. I am amazed by it.”

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