2020 Charles Krug Merlot
Sep 2023 Selection
The 2020 Napa Merlot delights with a creamy texture and concludes with dark chocolate notes in a medium-to-long finish.
Charles Krug visited the United States in 1847 from Prussia and became a U.S. citizen in 1852. He married
Carolina Bale, the daughter of the Napa Valley pioneer, Edward Turner Bale. Carolina’s dowry included 540
acres of land north of St. Helena. On this land Krug planted a vineyard and founded his vinery in 1861. This is
the oldest winery in Napa Valley and boasts the very first tasting room, established in 1882.
In 1943 Robert Mondavi persuaded his parents to purchase the winery and began his wine career there. He
later founded his own winery in 1966. Charles Krug vineyards and winery then passed on to Peter Mondavi,
Robert’s younger brother. Peter Mondavi Sr. continued to be active in the winery until his death in 2016 at age 101. Today the winery and vineyards are managed by Peter’s two sons, Peter Jr. and Marc Mondavi.
Napa Valley Merlot is the third most planted grape in Napa Valley. Napa’s vaunted combination of climate, soil and the human factor of winemaking expertise lead to big, ripe, cellar-worthy and world-class versions of the Merlot. Whether made by itself in single-varietal bottlings or as an important role in Bordeaux Blends,
Merlot’s contribution is significant. Often described as “the flesh on Cabernet’s bones,” Merlot lends a soft,
round and plush character that beautifully complements Cabernet’s linear, full-throttle structure. Its flavors of plums plus subtle herbs and mint also dovetail nicely with Cabernet’s blackberry and cassis.
The 2020 vintage of this Napa Valley Merlot consists of 80% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Sirah, and 1% Cabernet Franc. The 2020 growing season had a dry February, followed by a warmer-than-average spring. The summer was warm but there were no heat spikes until August. This resulted in average yields and good fruit sets.
The 2020 Charles Krug Merlot is described by winemakers thus. “Our 2020 Napa Valley Merlot has expressive aromas of fresh, crushed black cherries, black currant, blueberry compote, and violet followed by lovely hints of café au lait, dark bittersweet chocolate, a touch of wintergreen, and root beer. This medium-bodied wine delights with subtle creamy texture and flavors of cherry and red currant. It concludes with dark chocolate, black cherry and toasted oak notes that linger on the medium-to-long finish.”
James Suckling awarded this vintage 93 points and Wine Spectator awarded this vintage 90 points.
This is a wine that is delicious now but will cellar well for 3 to 5 years.