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Known as one of Napa Valley’s “ghost wineries,” Atalon Winery traces its history back to 1888. In that year, General W.S. Keyes built a stone production facility high on Howell Mountain. Kendall Jackson rejuvenated the property and released their inaugural 1997 vintage in 2001.

Although Atalon is located on Howell Mountain, it makes wines with grapes from several Napa Valley AVAs. The winery offers excellent value from the typically very expensive Howell Mountain AVA. Their Merlot is particularly good as well as being very well priced.

The 2001 Merlot is an immensely flavorful version of this varietal. Dark, ripe fruit flavors are accompanied buy pepper and spice notes. Solid tannins and oak frame the flavor profile. This wine will continue to develop with age.

The winery’s 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon is made with grapes from Rutherford, Oakville and Mount Veeder. This wine was great young, but I’m sure it will age nicely for several years. Leather and smoke complement forward fruit flavors in this complex Cab.

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