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Hourglass 2006 Blueline Vineyard Merlot

Tasting notes: The Hourglass 2006 Blueline Vineyard Merlot is exceptionally dark, roiling with aromas of black cherry, grape lozenge, coffee, and plum. The wine’s mouthfeel is velvety and dense, and its ripe red-apple and cinnamon-spice finish culminate in cool graphite mineral. Worth knowing: In 1990 the St. Helena, Calif., hillside vineyard became infested with phylloxera. Instead of throwing in the towel, owner Jeff Smith replanted it after learning from Mark Kliewer, dean of the viticulture program at the University of California, Davis, that the property’s unique location at the narrowest point of the hourglass-shape Napa Valley would be ideal for cabernet sauvignon. Kliewer’s analysis inspired a new wine, as well as a new label, and Hourglass’s cabernets, produced by winemaker Bob Foley, have received high praise—and high scores—ever since.

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