Upon arriving at Pride Mountain Vineyards, a lodge-looking structure that sits high atop Diamond Mountain, straddling the line between Napa and Sonoma counties, we were greeted by a somber sight. The flag whipped back and forth at half staff in the early afternoon sunlight, as it had for a week and would for several more, until 49 days went by. This seven week salute was Pride’s way of commemorating the tragedy and honoring the victims of the massacre in Orlando and, far away on the other side of the country, I found it to be both moving and appropriate.
Over the years, Pride has become famous for producing spectacular wines that are often served at the White House amongst other places. Winemaker Sally Johnson, who has held the position for more than a decade, works with fruit from both the Napa and Sonoma vineyards that border the estate. This unique positioning has lead to labels that indicate how much of the fruit was sourced from which county, a mobile crusher that can be moved back and forth over the county line, and all sorts of tax headaches. It has also, however, lead to some of the most extraordinary wine being produced anywhere in either county.
I love Merlot as a varietal, and the 2013 Pride Merlot is an example of why. It is, as the very best Merlots often are, a velvety delight upon the palate. Notes of deep, rich, dark fruits — plum and blackberry and currant abound in an artfully crafted wine that offers structure, elegance, and near-perfect balance. Simply put, this is a gorgeous wine. It’s 57% Napa, 43% Sonoma. It’s 92% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s 14.6% Alcohol, and it’s 100% outstanding. Robert Parker reportedly called it “Liquid Viagra.” I simply call it another “suck it, Sideways” badass Merlot. It gets 93 points on my scale, and I highly recommend it.