CRITIC: Mark Squires
The 2013 Merlot First Label, the winery's Reserve, also has 2 Petit Verdot. It was aged for 18 months in French oak (45% new) and comes in at 13.9% alcohol. In most respects, this is the winery's lushest and most caressing red on opening this issue, but it doesn't stay that way with aeration. Elegant in the mid-palate, it acquires power and focus as it airs out. There are also hints of complexity to come, with some whiffs of oak, game and herbs mingling with the lifted fruit. After a couple of hours, it tightens noticeably. The texture is caressing, though, and the intensity on the finish is notable. There isn't a lot of fleshiness or richness. It leans more to French style. This will reward aging and gain complexity with some time. Give it a couple of years if you can, after release. There were 419 cases produced from vines planted in 1998.
CRITIC: James Molesworth
Rounded and gentle in feel, with a subtle cocoa frame around lightly mulled plum and blackberry fruit notes. Keeps good flesh through the finish. Drink now. 419 cases made.
CRITIC: Anna Lee Iijima
Like many of Raphael's red wines, there's a deeply savory, leathery rusticity here that resonates powerfully. Ripe black cherry and plum flavors are cut by streaks of tart currant and cranberry acidity and a rigid frame of tannins. It's a bold, densely structured wine that should improve with cellaring. Drink from 2020 through 2025.