Name: Hourglass Blueline Estate Merlot
Country: United States
Sub-Region: Napa Valley
Producer: Hourglass Wines
Early ripening varietals such as Merlot excelled in the cooler 2011 vintage. A truly exceptional terroir for Merlot, the high mineral concentration and low organic carbon (clay) in the chalky, broken-down volcanic ash, cobble and river-washed sand of the Merlot blocks in the Blueline Estate Vineyard helped ward off the intrusion of fog that challenged many parts of the Napa Valley in 2011. The vintage, site and vines produced a Merlot with explosive dark sour cherry, toasted vanilla bean and Asian spice aromatics, hints of cedar and tea leaf, and flavors of red plum, blackberry puree, and cocoa powder. The tannins are ripe and silky, lending a rich mouth-coating texture and wonderful drinkability.
While many wineries produce Merlot to masquerade as Cabernet Sauvignon, we believe the core DNA of Merlot from special sites delivers something remarkable that deserves to stand shoulder to shoulder with other great varietals, Cab included. We are not out to make a “Cab lovers Merlot. We are out to set the record straight on Merlot itself! Our 2011 is one more step on our quest to set Merlot in its rightful place.
The Wine Advocate: 90 points
The deep ruby/purple-colored 2011 Merlot Blue Line offers lots of plum and sweet cherry notes, and no hints of herbaceousness or hollowness. It is a strong effort for this vintage, and should drink nicely for another 5-7 years. All three 2011 Blue Line cuvees looked to be lush, ripe, gorgeously fruity, pure wines with dense ruby/purple colors, lots of body and glycerin, and, surprisingly, normal alcohol levels. This appears to be a terrific vintage at Hourglass, but even at one year of age, these wines are still dominated by sensational levels of fruit.
Vinous Review: 89 points
Mocha, espresso, black fruit and sweet spices flesh out in the 2010 Merlot Blueline. The soft, textured finish offers plenty of immediacy in a ripe, layered Merlot to drink now and over the next few years.
-- Antonio Galloni