Paloma's 2001 Merlot is still the best Merlot I’ve tasted from California. Named our Wine of the Year in 2003, this remains a wonderfully delicious piece of work—ripe, rich, layered, complex and impeccably balanced. A friend uncorked a bottle for lunch the other day, which we enjoyed along with a duck confit salad, and it is still showing beautifully.
What’s remarkable about this vineyard in Napa Valley's Spring Mountain District is that it also made great Cabernet and Syrah. When a vineyard can produce two or three noble wines, that validates its greatness and versatility. The owners, the Richards family, dropped those two wines to focus on Merlot, and I have mixed emotions about that.
As it stands, Paloma remains the greatest Merlot vineyard in California, and its wines can hold their own against the best Merlots grown anywhere. The 2001 is at a nice peak now and should hold another five to eight years. Still 95 points, non-blind, just as when I first rated it.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Paloma Merlot Spring Mountain District 2001 (95, $45).
• Plus, get our quick list of Top Values among California Merlot.