2017 TREFETHEN Merlot Estate Napa Valley

TREFETHEN Merlot Estate Napa Valley

¥8,140 (incl. tax)

Merlot was virtually unknown in Northern California in the 1960s when the Trefethens planted their vineyards. It turned out that Oak Knoll suited the early-ripening Merlot perfectly. Cooler summer nights and afternoons, alluvial soils, and a long growing season endow Merlot with bright acidity, structure and character. With excellent terroir as well as 50+ years of experience, the Trefethens make a Merlot that’s poised and elegant, offering complex flavors while remaining restrained and food-friendly. According to the winery, the 2017 vintage started warm but ended cool; crop yields were down but the wine is a classic. With 5% Cabernet Franc, this is a well-balanced wine that delights with silky red fruit, dark earthy notes, floral perfume and velvet tannins.  An exceptional wine for the table – try it with duck, grilled chicken, tomato-based pastas or even black olive and mushroom pizza. 


Winery Description

A family-owned producer of distinguished estate wines for over 50 years, Trefethen Family Vineyards has always been guided by a unique dedication to sustainable farming, thoughtful winemaking and gracious hospitality. The majority of Trefethen’s nearly 600 acres are found on the Main Ranch Vineyard, located in Oak Knoll – about midway between Yountville and Napa – a cooler district in the southern half of the Napa Valley. The other property is the Hillspring Vineyard, on the low foothills of the mountains just to west of Oak Knoll. Trefethen produces mainly Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Riesling. However, it farms a total of nine grape varieties, the others being Malbec, Petite Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Viognier and Pinot Noir. (The other varieties are either used for blending, released in special bottlings or sold to other wineries).  

Eugene Trefethen, an engineering company executive, purchased the historic, but run-down property in 1968 as a post-retirement hobby. When his son, John, suggested replanting the vineyards and founding an estate winery, the idea was considered foolhardy at best. Back then, the Napa Valley was an isolated community with more prune and walnut orchards than vineyards, and only 20 wineries were in existence. But the estate happened to feature a standing winery building from an earlier era, which added credence to the idea that wine would be both history and future. As it turned out, John and his wife, Janet, caught the new Napa winemaking wave, and their energy propelled Trefethen Family Vineyards into becoming one of the top new wineries of the 1970s. Indeed, in 1979 the 1976 Trefethen Chardonnay was declared “The Best Chardonnay in the World” at the Gault Millau Wine Olympics held in Paris.

Since the mid-2000s, the third generation of Trefethens, John and Janet’s children, Hailey and Lorenzo, have taken charge. 50 years has given this family an intimate understanding of their vineyards, from the soils and microclimates of the various blocks to the varietals, the clones and the rootstock. With this knowledge, they can continue to create new blends and reserve wines made from superior blocks of the very best vines and build on a legacy of estate grown wines of remarkable quality and integrity. 

About this Wine

Country USA
Region California
Appellation(s) Napa Valley
Sub-Ava Oak Knoll District
Winery Trefethen
Vintage 2017
Color Red
Varietal(s) 95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc
Closure Cork
Volume 750ml
Bottle Size 8.0 x 30.5
Case Size 32.5 x 25.0 x 31.5
Alcohol 14.2%
Product Code TR17NM
UPC 013024770019

Owning & Enjoying

Tasting notes

91 points – Decanter; 90 points – Wine Enthusiast.

Aromas of cherries, red currants and plums mingle with savory notes of tobacco, bay leaf and cedar. Juicy red fruit wrapped in silky tannins emerges on the palate. The finish is bright and long with notes of savory herbs and cracked pepper.



After fermentation in stainless steel, the wine aged 18 months in 44% new oak.

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