94 Points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
93 Points – Anthony Dias Blue, Blue Lifestyle
Santa Cruz Mountains
Dark ruby color. Pungent, ripe mountain bramble, violet floral notes, toasted oak, and exotic spices. Rich cherry fruit entry, firm acid, savory dried herbs, and wonderful textural tannins. Great finesse and length to its finish. EB (2/20)
Winter brought drenching rains to Monte Bello and cold spring weather delayed bud-break, pushing bloom into June. A warm summer accelerated vine growth, but unusually cold fall nights slowed ripening for a late October harvest. Our merlot parcel at 1,400 feet elevation makes up this year’s Estate selection. Showing intense fruit and opulence, this excellent wine is enjoyable now and will continue to improve 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: 44.2 inches (above normal)
Weather: A wet winter provided well-above normal rainfall. A cool spring, affected fruit set but warm spells in summer pushed vines along. Labor Day heat wave ripened the grapes nicely.
Harvest Date: 10 October
Grapes: Average Brix 26.7˚
TA: 7.2 g/L
Fermentation: Grapes destemmed, 100% whole berries. Natural primary and natural secondary (malolactic) fermentations. Pressed at six days
Barrels: 100% air-dried American oak; 100% new.
Aging: Eighteen months in barrel
Hand-harvested, estate-grown grapes; destemmed, left as whole berries; fermented on the native yeasts; full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria; 0.24 g/L calcium carbonate added to one of three lots; oak from barrel aging; minimum effective sulfur (35 ppm initially, 71 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: 94 Points “The 2017 Estate Merlot is fabulous. Rich, dense and exotically ripe, the 2017 might shock Ridge fans with its opulence. Time in bottle should help some of the baby fat drop off. Inky dark fruit, smoke, licorice, spice, chocolate and leather race out of the glass in an explosive, full throttle Merlot that hits all the right notes. What a wine. The Merlot Estate is sourced from one block on the Klein Ranch. The lower altitude and lower presence of limestone vis-à-vis some of the other ranches yield a Merlot that is decidedly opulent by Ridge standards.” -Antonio Galloni (September 2020)
Blue Lifestyle: 93 Points “A beautifully elegant wine from the famed Monte Bello vineyard; fresh, smooth and deep with spice and ripe plum, long and balanced.” – Anthony Dias Blue (April 2020)
Average Rating: 91.4
No. of Tasting Notes: 27
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