2012 Estate Merlot

2012 Estate Merlot

Wine Information

100% Merlot




Monte Bello


Santa Cruz Mountains

Alcohol By Volume


Winemaker Tasting Notes

Deep purple/ruby color. Ripe blackberry fruit, cola, exotic spice, eucalyptus. Elegant entry; full body, with black currant fruit, dried herbs, firm acid; red fruit and sweet oak in a lingering finish.

Vintage Notes

Though winter’s abrupt end left the vines short on rain, near-perfect summer weather ripened the grapes for a mid-October harvest. During primary fermentation, color and tannin developed fully. After pressing, each lot started natural malolactic in tank; a quarter of the way through, we racked to new barrels. After seventeen weeks on their lees, the wines were blindtasted for assemblage. All showed beautifully, and were combined. Twenty-one months in barrel has softened the tannins. This delicious wine will be most enjoyable over the next six to eight years. EB (5/15)


Ridge first made merlot in 1974 from the exposed Point vineyard, planted on Monte Bello Ridge at an elevation of 2600′ (792 m.). 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.

Growing Season

Rainfall: 18 inches (below average)

Bloom: Early June

Weather: Moderate summer and fall.


Harvest Dates: 11 October – 15 November.

Grapes: Average Brix 24.0

Fermentation: Grapes destemmed, 100% whole berries. Natural primary and natural secondary (malolactic) fermentations. Pressed at seven days.

Barrels: 95% air dried american oak, 5% french; 18% new, 82% one year old.

Aging: Twenty-one months in barrel.

Winemaking: Sustainably farmed, hand harvested, estate-grown grapes; destemmed, left as whole berries; fermented on the native yeasts; full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria; 0.29mg/L calcium carbonate added to four of seven lots; 0.9% water added to three of seven lots; oak from barrel aging; minimum effective sulfur (30 ppm initially, 85 ppm over the course 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; 0.9% water addition; calcium carbonate; oak from barrel aging; minimum effective SO2.


The Wine Advocate (October 2015): 91 Points. “Made from 100% Merlot and checking in at 13.5% natural alcohol, the 2012 Merlot Estate sports an inky purple color to go with terrific notes of black cherries, crème brulee, spice, smoked herbs and licorice. Fabulously pure with medium to full-bodied richness, no hard edges ,and both freshness and richness, it’s one of the top Merlots I’ve tasted from the Santa Cruz Mountains; it will have upwards of 10-15 years of longevity.” -Jeb Dunnuck

Vinous Media (July 2015): 92 Points. “The 2012 Merlot Estate is an absolute joy to taste. Dark and sumptuous to the core, the 2012 boasts superb richness to match its open-knit, welcoming personality. Plum, black cherry, mocha, sweet herbs, cloves and violets are some of the notes that are laced into the voluptuous, racy finish. Expressive savory undertones are a reminder this is a mountain wine, but the raciness is pure 2012.” -Antonio Galloni

California Grapevine (Vol. 41, May 2015): 90 Points “Medium to medium-dark ruby; attractive, forward, spicy, cedary, currant and black cherry fruit aroma with herbal notes and hints of tobacco leaf and black olive; full body; rich, textured, cedary, currant and dark cherry fruit flavors with firm acidity giving it a nicely balanced, silky impression in the mouthfeel; medium-full tannin; lingering aftertaste. Very highly recommended.”

Consumer Tasting Notes

Average Rating: 90.9

No. of Tasting Notes: 58

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