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92 Points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
Santa Cruz Mountains
Saturated ruby color. Ripe cherry fruit, chaparral, black tea, toasted oak, and clove spice. Well-defined mountain fruit entry, rounded tannins, sweet oak, lengthy finish showing limestone character. EB (2/17)
This driest year on record brought significant water stress to the vineyard. Fortunately, the vines managed to get through it, and harvest, unusually early, was complete by September 20. A six-day fermentation provided elegant extraction. At assemblage, in February, we combined lots with excellent fruit and balanced tannins. After twenty-one months’ aging in american oak, this complex merlot has developed wonderfully. It will be most enjoyable over the next 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: 11.8 inches (below average)
Weather: Very dry December & January; most of the rain fell February through April. Overall above average temperatures at Monte Bello.
Harvest Dates: 5 – 20 September
Grapes: Average brix 23.9
Fermentation: Grapes destemmed, 100% whole berries. Natural primary and natural secondary (malolactic) fermentations. Pressed at six days.
Barrels: 100% air dried american oak; 45% new, 32% two to three years old and 23% four 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; 0.45mg/L calcium carbonate added to two of six lots; a fining of 3 fresh, organic egg whites per barrel for the press wine; oak from barrel aging; minimum effective sulfur (25 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.
Vinous Media (August 2017): 92 Points. “Ridge’s 2014 Merlot Estate possesses notable purity of fruit, brilliant aromatic presence and fabulous balance. Pliant, open-knit and super-expressive, Ridge’s Merlot is a terrific choice for readers who are just starting to get to know the Ridge wines, as it can be enjoyed with minimal cellaring. What a joy it is to taste the 2014 today. Sadly, there will be no 2015, as yields were punishingly low.” – Antonio Galloni
Average Rating: 90.6
No. of Tasting Notes: 70
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