Santa Cruz Mountains
Ruby color. Dried cherry, rhubarb, olive, sun-dried tomato. Cherry fruit on entry, chaparral, dried herbs, currant. Firm acid, polished tannins, refreshing finish.
A long winter and harsh weather during bloom cut merlot yields. Through an unusually cool summer, our mountain vineyards were in full sun. Early October rains set the vines back, but three weeks of warm weather allowed the grapes to ripen fully. Whole berries fermented on natural yeasts; natural malolactics started in tank and finished four months later in barrel. In blind tastings, four of eight parcels were selected for this year’s Estate bottling. This sensuous wine will be most enjoyable over the next six to eight years. EB (6/13)
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: 36 inches (above average)
Bloom: Late June
Weather: Moderate summer and fall.
Harvest Dates: 19 October – 2 November
Grapes: Average Brix 23.8
Fermentation: Destemmed/whole berry. Natural primary and natural secondary (malolactic). Pressed at seven days.
Barrels: 100% air dried american oak; 41% new, 59% three and four years old.
Aging: Nineteen and a half months in barrel.
Estate-grown Monte Bello vineyard grapes, hand harvested. Destemmed whole-berries fermented on the native yeasts; full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria; 22mg/L calcium carbonate added to two fermentors; minimum effective sulfur (35 ppm initially, 83 ppm during of aging). Pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions. Ingredients: Hand harvested, sustainably grown grapes; indigenous yeasts; naturally occurring malolactic bacteria; calcium carbonate; oak from barrels; minimum effective SO2.
Vinous Media (July 2014): “The 2011 Merlot Estate is gorgeous. A blast of dark red and black stone fruits melds into a more typical expression of mountain fruit, with savory herb and floral notes that develop in the glass. A kick of bracing 2011 acidity supports a finish laced with iron, smoke, leather and spices. There is plenty to like in this accessible Merlot from Ridge.” -Antonio Galloni (Rated: 92)
Quarterly Review of Wines (December 2014) – 32nd Annual Best of the Best: California Merlot: “An immense wine with currant, plum and cherry in both aroma and taste. Mild tannins, hint of olive, with a great depth and elegant finish.” -Richard Elia (Rated: Outstanding)
Wine & Spirits (October 2014): “Ridge’s high-elevation vineyards grew a soft, appetizing merlot in 2011, subtly floral in its aromas, plump and plum-fruited in the middle, mountain tannins tightening at the end. Built to drink in the new few years with a flank steak.” (Rated: 90)
California Grapevine (Vol. 40, November 2014): “Medium to medium-dark ruby; attractive, forward, black cherry fruit aroma with herbal notes and hints of black olive and tobacco leaf; medium-full body; tight, herbal, black cherry fruit flavors with firm structure and good depth; medium-full tannin; lingering aftertaste. Developed nicely with airing in the glass and should reward another three to five more years of bottle aging. Very highly recommended.”
(Group Score: 16.2 of 20 points, 2/1/2; My Score: 17 (90/100), fourth place)
Average Rating: 89.8
No. of Tasting Notes: 43
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