I ♥ NY
Off Dry & Sweet
Colète Merlot "Black Vineyard" from Coombsville, Napa Valley, California 2019
Where: Coombsville, Napa Valley
Taste: The Merlot Black Vineyard from Colète is terrific. Bright and energetic the wine is incredibly appealing. Readers will find an especially savory structured Merlot that is full of cool climate character. Bright acids lend vibrancy to the blue/purplish berry fruit. High-toned floral overtones lift the finish.
Vibes with: steak and rich mushroom preparations.
Additional info: 100% Merlot from 30+ years old vines. Organically farmed. Volcanic soil. Clone: Black Merlot. Elevation: 171.25ft / Slope: 12.9%. Exposure: SW. Destemmed then cold maceration for 5 days. 14 days fermentation in 20hl Taransaud foudre. Very gentle extraction, mostly infusion. No SO2 during vinification and élevage, a touch at bottling. Aging in used French oak barrels (228L) for 22 months. Total SO2: 34mg/L. pH: 3,52. Abv: 13,67%. Only 900-1000 bottles produced.
Colète is a Napa Valley merlot designed by Rajat Parr and Marie Vayron Ponsonnet. They find their inspiration in Pomerol, merlot’s defining place and where Marie happened to grow up! The best Pomerol merlots unite disparate characteristics—they are soft, round, and fleshy, yet also textured, structured, and sharp, with deep earthy flavors of plum, dark berries, and mineral.
The animating drive behind the Colète project is to find the best terroirs in Napa Valley for merlot, and to produce high-quality wine from there, restoring honor to a once-fashionable grape that is still bashed today.
The first vintage, 2017, has been vinified using traditional Bordeaux methods, along with a minimalist approach in both vineyard and cellar. To allow this hands-off philosophy, Rajat and Marie had the firm conviction they needed certified organically grown vines. It took them about 2 years to find the grapes.
But first, back to the origins…
This wine is born from a friendship between a pinot noir lover and a woman raised on merlot. Rajat and Marie met in 2014 during the famous Burgundy wine tasting, La Paulée, in San Francisco. Marie had just moved to the United States to start her sommelier career in New York and had no inkling how much Rajat would impact her love for wine.
Their acquaintance continued to impact Marie’s life, as she discovered Rajat’s Santa Barbara wines, Sandhi and Domaine de La Côte. In 2015, she joined Rajat’s team to work harvest as an intern. It was a life changing experience as she fell in love with California, never expecting to find wines with such terroir, texture, and complexity.
Of course, Marie was already familiar with viticulture and winemaking, as she grew up on her family’s vineyard, Château Bourgneuf, in Pomerol, France. Her father and sister, Xavier and Frédérique Vayron, still run the winery and make a classic Pomerol wine—vibrant and balanced, from soils of blue clay with traces of oxidized iron. Marie’s Pomerol origins, combined with a newfound love of California, inspired her to create a Merlot from Napa terroir.
It is hard to present Rajat Parr in few words, as he has influenced the industry on so many levels. After working the floor as a Wine Director for years, Rajat started his wine producing career in 2011 in partnership with winemaker Sashi Moorman. Their chardonnays and pinot noirs are some of the most balanced in California, and challenge the best Burgundies in that regard.
Though Raj has always revered classic Bordeaux, it’s still rare to see a bottle at a ‘somm’ get-together. Given the unfashionability of Bordeaux in sommelier circles, Marie often joked with Raj that one day they would produce a Pomerol style wine together in California. But behind the joke, the desire was real. To Marie’s great surprise, Raj was actually taking the idea seriously, which she learned when he announced to her that he’d found a great organic merlot vineyard for them in Napa.
Colète and Bourgneuf are in a way ‘sisters’ in Raj and Marie’s story. They named their cuvee Colète after one of Bourgneuf’s parcels, an exclusive plot giving a crisp and youthful merlot.
Today, they want to offer an outstanding merlot from Napa, displaying the unique beauty and soul of this grape, while keeping Pomerol as their main inspiration. Embrace the journey with them as Napa merlot is back in its most beautiful expression: