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Peter Franus has developed and maintained his reputation as a premier Napa winemaker since the 1980s. In recent years, he has focused on single-vineyard cuvées from unique sites around Napa. This 100% merlot comes from the Stewart vineyard in Carneros, in the cooler, southern part of the valley. Being near the edge of the Napa-Sonoma Marsh, the vines gain complexity from the intrusion of saltwater into the vineyard. 2018 was a fantastic growing season, with moderate temperatures and adequate rainfall resulting in balanced ripening and lush concentration of flavor. This full-bodied red opens with a wave of plum and black cherry aromas over subtle tobacco and spice, and hints of rose petal and thyme. A touch spicy on the palate, it unfolds with opulent fruit, cocoa tannins, and slightly savory undertones. Firm tannin structure provides support and balance, leading into a delectably lengthy finish. This is drinking beautifully now, but certainly possesses impressive aging potential as well.