Santa Cruz Mountains
Saturated ruby color. Seductive, rich bramble fruit; juniper, roasted coffee, clove. Lively mountain bramble fruit entry, chalky tannins, firm acid. Complex forest-floor, attractive oak spice in a lengthy finish.
A dry, warm winter prompted unusually early budbreak; the small crop alleviated some water stress on the vines. Destemmed, the grapes fermented as whole berries, and were pressed on the seventh day. After barrel malolactics and four months on their gross lees, the six lots were racked, combined, and returned to barrel; rich texture and intense mountain fruit supported a high percentage of new oak in aging. Enjoyable now, this superb vintage will develop further complexity over the next nine to ten years.
Ridge first made merlot in 1974 from the Point, the highest, most exposed block on the Monte Bello vineyard at an elevation of 2600’. Originally, we wanted to see if the varietal could match the quality of, and be included in, the Monte Bello. 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: 20.5 inches (below average)
Weather: Moderate summer and fall.
Harvest Dates: 9 September – 2 October
Grapes: Average Brix 24.5˚
Fermentation: Grapes destemmed, 100% whole berries. Natural primary and natural secondary (malolactic) fermentations. Pressed at seven days.
Barrels: 100% air dried american oak; 60% new, 40% two years old.
Aging: Twenty-one months in barrel.
Sustainably farmed, hand harvested, estate-grown grapes; destemmed, left as whole berries; fermented on the native yeasts; full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria; 0.18mg/L calcium carbonate added to two of six lots; a fining of 8 fresh, organic egg whites per barrel for the press wine; oak from barrel aging; minimum effective sulfur (30 ppm initially, 98 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.
California Grapevine (November 2016): 90 Points – “Medium-dark purplish ruby; attractive, spicy, black cherry fruit aroma with herbal notes and hints of espresso, tobacco leaf, black olive, and graphite; full body; rich, textured, cedary, youthful, firmly structured, currant and dark cherry fruit flavors with hints of baking spices and overtones of American oak; full tannin; lingering aftertaste. Currently a bit tight and could use a few more years of bottle aging. Very highly recommended. 13.8% alcohol; 1,250 cases; 100% Merlot; released April 2016. (Group Score: 16.1, 0/3/0; My Score: 17 [90/100], second place)”
Vinous Media (July 2016): 92 Points. “The 2013 Merlot Estate shows just how extraordinary this vintage is at Ridge. Far from an easygoing wine, the 2013 Merlot hits the palate with serious intensity and tannic heft. Dark and virile to the core, the 2013 is flat-out delicious. Even with all of its intensity, the 2013 retains the classic Ridge sense of mid-weight structure. Readers should plan on cellaring the 2013 for at least a few years. This is impressive stuff. ” -Antonio Galloni
Average Rating: 90.5
No. of Tasting Notes: 46
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