91% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon
Santa Cruz Mountains
After 1994’s cool spring, a near-perfect growing season fully ripened our 1800’ merlot vineyard on Monte Bello Ridge. The wine was fermented on its own yeast with partial whole berries and a floating cap, completing a full, natural, secondary fermentation by Thanksgiving. Aged in all-new, air-dried American oak for sixteen months, this lovely wine gained further depth and definition with the inclusion of small amounts of petit verdot and cabernet. Enjoyable now, as a young wine, it will develop in complexity as the tannins resolve over the next ten to fifteen years. PD (4/96)
In replanting the abandoned vineyards of the old Monte Bello Winery, we put our first merlot on the Point vineyard in the late sixties. This exposed site bears the brunt of the occasional gale force winds off the Pacific, so yields have always been low. In 1974, with these stressed six-year-old vines, we made our first few barrels of merlot (including forty percent cabernet) to see if the varietal could match the quality of the 100% Monte Bello Cabernet. This limited release has equaled or surpassed its twin from the outset, and convinced us to add merlot vineyards over the years as space and resources allowed. From 1975 onward, it has been included in the Monte Bello whenever our assemblage tastings so dictated. As the younger plantings matured, by 1991 we had sufficient wine after the Monte Bello assemblage for a limited merlot release. This is the fourth of these recent releases, and is less than half the quantity of the already limited ’93.
The first grapes were harvested in the last days of September on our lower vineyard at 1800 feet of elevation on the Ridge. The second and last picking came from the same vineyard fifteen days later. Both were fully ripe, with the firm acidity of cool nights and warm days.
We included small percentages of petit verdot and cabernet in the assemblage for added depth and definition. The wine was dropped to 100% new, air-dried american oak in December, after a full, uninoculated secondary fermentation. Three months before bottling we decided to include the fined press wine in the unfined free run, contributing further to the wine’s complexity.
As with its predecessors, this lovely wine is an example of what merlot can achieve when site, climate, and winemaking allow. It is beautifully balanced, and can be enjoyed as a young wine. The firm tannins, however, will assure its development over the next ten to fifteen years.
Average Rating: 92
No. of Tasting Notes: 2
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