Cairdean Estate 2010 Merlot

Napa Valley, CA
81% Merlot, 17% Cab. Sauv, 1.5% Malbec, 0.5% Petite Verdot, 14.9% ABV
$6 at the Encinitas, CA store on 29 Aug

Cairdean_MerlotDark red color showing nice legs in the glass. Popped and poured through a Vinturi, the wine drinks medium to full bodied with notes of closed dark berries. The palate evolves past the initial  alcohol hit as the wine airs and softens as it breathes, revealing a nice interplay of mushroom, dark chocolate cocoa and blackberry flavors underneath about 30 minutes in. That recognizable elegant Merlot backbone is there you find in better Merlots without too much accompanying sweetness, and a good amount of acidity keeps this food friendly despite its ABV. There is a touch of supporting oak present. This is very typical Napa Valley Merlot in my experience and a very good one. 

This would please a lot of Napa Cab lovers who don’t want the CA bombs but who still value a Merlot with a quite a bit of substance and a story to tell. It is not quite the most complex Merlot nor the most intriguing I have had but it delivers from the initial taste to the lingering, slightly chewy (the 17% Cab?) finish. I think I might actually like its nose best.

On Day 2, everything was a bit more muted with expected Merlot elements coming through. The wine was far softer but, I felt, a bit less well delineated. I think this wine was best a few hours in on Day 1.

FYI, I tend to pop and pour not having a wine fridge or a cellar but this wine does seem to have plenty of time left in it. I would be very comfortable bringing this for dinner at a decent restaurant or to a CA wine lover’s house for a meal. Production snuck in under 500 cases at 492, which is always nice. 

This is the type of wine that attracted me to GO in the first place and that keeps me coming back. 

Trade sheet here:


20 thoughts on “Cairdean Estate 2010 Merlot

  1. rocky

    I really must have lucked out, as I have yet to find a bad bottle out of 6 or so we’ve had thus far. A friend who bought from the same store has had 1 corked bottle though. I have noted some moderate bottle variation, including 2 bottles that were really quite good, with depth and richness that was surprising!
    On the other end of the spectrum, some bottles have been simpler and more candied. All in all, a definite case buy (minimum) for me.

  2. Expat

    After trying this I returned and bought half a case in San Luis Obispo. I thought it was terrific and very much as the review described it. My first taste/whiff said clearly “Napa”, which I appreciate after having so much Central Coast wine. Just like an Edna Valley wine is so distinctive, so is Napa fruit or terroir or whatever. I was a little concerned about the relatively high ABV but didn’t find it out of balance. Overall a sophisticated Merlot with some depth and backbone.

    I was bummed to read that BargainWhine had an off bottle. Hope I don’t run into that.

        1. gowinelover Post author

          Bummer. BW and I had opposite experiences. I just bought one but will returning this weekend if there is more left.

          1. Darrell

            Aye, there’s the rub! Is it individual bottle, case or pallet variation. For me, it’s getting expensive to go through two bottles or more find out if the case is bad. I thought I was missing out on this one since I haven’t getting out to GO stores lately, but I don’t feel too bad if I don’t pick this one up. I hope the person who picked up those four cases fares well.

            1. seedboy

              I’m pretty religious about returning bottles I do not like, for any reason. Even if I have had it a while

  3. BargainWhine

    Coincidentally, I opened my bottle of this wine last night. It was quite different from GOWineLover’s bottle. Instead of rich, complex fruit, mine was dominated by sour candy-like fruity acid, and was rather simple. I’ll update this if the saved single-glass bottle is different. I did get a couple more bottles before it was completely gone from the Richmond store, and I’ll describe how they were when I open them.

    1. BargainWhine

      I opened my saved, single-glass, screwcap bottle of this wine, and for a good while, could not recall what it was. It tastes of tangy boysenberry acid, so I thought I had a Zin. It’s fine if I think it’s a Zin, but I would not guess this was a Merlot.

    2. BargainWhine

      I opened my second bottle this evening. It was a little better than the first, but not by much. I think I will just return my third and get something else about which I’ve been curious.

  4. EricfromRichmond

    They had quite a few cases in Richmond a few days ago. It seemed to be selling pretty quickly so I’m not sure it’s still there.

  5. cawinediva2015ca

    It will be interesting to see if this is available in N. California as they want to be a high end winery. I’m not sure they were fully up and running in 2010, so maybe an experimental vintage for them. I hope to find a bottle up here to check out.


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