Santa Cruz Mountains
Deep ruby color; rich bramble fruit, fennel, black olive, savory dried herbs; smooth entry, round tannins, elegant, medium-to-full body, lengthy finish.
At Monte Bello, we grow nineteen acres of merlot on seven vineyard parcels between 1350′ and 2650′ feet of elevation. Each is harvested and fermented separately. In this vintage we selected two small parcels (Casa Grande and Upper Merlot) that produced a more accessible style. By reducing the amount of new oak, we brought the fruit to the fore. This delicious merlot shows rich, brambly flavors, balanced by well-resolved tannins. Enjoyable now, it will develop fully over the next seven or eight years. EB (6/12)
Ridge first made merlot in 1974 from the exposed Point vineyard, planted on Monte Bello Ridge at an elevation of 2600′. Originally, we wanted to see if the varietal could match the quality of, and be included in, our estate cabernet. Once satisfied that it could, we planted more merlot over the years as space and resources allowed. From 1975 on, it has been a part of the Monte Bello whenever assemblage tastings so indicated. As the younger plantings matured, it became apparent that not only did merlot complement the Monte Bello, but also had the structure and complexity to merit a separate bottling.
Rainfall: 33 inches (average)
Weather: Cool, late spring, cold summer and long, mild fall
Harvest Dates: 3 – 25 October
Grapes: Average Brix 24.5
Fermentation: Destemmed/whole berry. Natural primary and natural secondary (malolactic). Pressed at seven days.
Barrels: 100% air dried american oak; 30% new, 23% one year old, 47% two and three years old.
Aging: Twenty months
Estate-grown Monte Bello vineyard grapes, hand harvested. Destemmed whole-berries fermented on the native yeasts; full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria. Minimum effective sulfur (28 ppm initially, 97 ppm during of aging). A fining of six fresh egg white per barrel to moderate tough tannins. Pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
Vinous Media (July 2013): “An excellent choice for drinking over the next few years, the 2010 Merlot Estate is juicy, expressive and beautiful. The 2010 vibrancy and freshness is there, and adds lovely balance to the expressive fruit. The 2010 delivers plenty of Ridge personality. Best of all, readers will neither need to wait for years nor spend huge sums to find pleasure.” -Antonio Galloni (Rated: 90)
California Grapevine (Vol. 39, September 2013): “Medium to medium-dark ruby; forward, intense, currant and dark cherry fruit aroma with spicy, toasty notes and a hint of vanilla; full body; big, rich, extracted, dark fruit flavors with herbal notes and a plush mouthfee; full tannin; lingering aftertaste. Deserves a few more years of bottle aging. Very highly recommended.” (Group Score: 16.1 of 20 points, 0/3/0; My Score: 17 (90/100), fourth place)
Average Rating: 90.2
No. of Tasting Notes: 70
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