Stag’s Leap Winery Block 20 Merlot Review

This wine offered subtle contours of black fruit, black cherry, blueberry, and pomegranate with smooth tannins and medium-plus acidity (pretty racy for Merlot, really).

Wine review by: Jessyca Frederick

Block 20 Merlot
Block 20 Merlot: front of bottle with wine in glass

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About this Wine

Wine: 2019 Block 20 Merlot
Blend: 90% Merlot, 6% Petite Sirah and 4% Petit Verdot
Region: Stag’s Leap, Napa Valley, California
Vineyard: Stag’s Leap Winery Estate Vineyard
Retail price: $80
I consumed it: April 2023
My source: Stag’s Leap Winery Wine Club

The Back Label

Block 20 MerlotBack Label

Where to Buy It

Buy it at: Stags Leap Winery

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Discover More

From this wine club: Stag’s Leap Winery Wine Club

From this winery: Stag’s Leap Winery

Region: Napa Valley, California

Wine color/style: Red wine

Grape variety or blend: Merlot

Tasting notes: Smooth tannins, Bright, Black fruit, Blue fruit

Other characteristics: Small production

Block 20 Merlot: What I think

One of Napa’s best kept secrets is the other-worldly quality of their other Bordeaux grapes. Everyone is always so fixated on their Cabernet Sauvignon, but most older Napa producers really want to make great Bordeaux blends, and to do this they need fabulous quality for all the blending grapes, too. If you like the Napa terroir but not the Cabernet prices, Napa Merlot is a great option.

Among the three wines I tried from Stag’s Leap Winery in April, this was my favorite. I like Merlot and I’m not ashamed to say so. This wine offered subtle contours of black fruit, black cherry, blueberry, and pomegranate with smooth tannins and medium-plus acidity (pretty racy for Merlot, really). The nose was a little much with the dark chocolate and vanilla (from the oak), but those aromas are really popular among red wine drinkers (especially Napa drinkers) so I can’t blame the winery for producing what works.

In general I like recommending the older Napa wineries (Stag’s Leap Winery first made wine in 1893, before prohibition threw a kink in the works) because there’s typically more value there — the land was dirt cheap when they bought it after all, and their building costs were lower, too. I’m not sure Stag’s Leap Winery wowed me enough to apply that recommendation to it though.

If you’re thinking of taking a trip to Napa, it’s super important to know there is also a Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and these are not the same winery. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars was one of the participants who stunned the wine cognoscenti at the fabled Judgement of Paris in 1976. It’s all further complicated by the fact that the AVA (American Viticultural Area) is called Stag’s Leap District! Other excellent wineries in this district include Chimney Rock, Cliff Lede, Clos du Val, Pine Ridge, Shafer, and Silverado.

While Stag’s Leap Winery is certainly not a small production winery, this wine was produced in a relatively small quantity. Stag’s Leap Winery is part of the Treasury Wine Estates portfolio of wine brands.

Last updated: August 3, 2023

Notice: I hold no formal wine credentials. I am a wine geek who has consumed 1000+ of bottles from 100+ different wine clubs and 1000s more bottles that didn’t come from those wine clubs. I do not accept payment for wine reviews, and I do not accept payments to influence my opinions. I happily accept free wine (and I buy wine).

Why read my wine reviews: Wine taste is subjective. What I like may not be what you like. I try to leave room for you to form your own opinions, so I don’t provide a score or a rating. I do point out wines that are an incredible value or truly not worth the money. I note flaws, wines that don’t have typicity (because this matters if you are buying wine without having tasted it yourself), when wines are out of balance, and when wines lack appropriate body.

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