Rich and full-bodied with superb fruit depth and voluptuous, ripe berry flavors carrying into a long, lovely finish.
The grapes in our Sonoma County Merlot come from our estate vineyards in Sonoma and Russian River valleys, as well as from growers in Sonoma County’s other top appellations, including Alexander Valley and Rockpile. Each carefully selected vineyard contributes distinctive and individual qualities to the finished wine. All grapes are hand-harvested, gently de-stemmed and crushed before cold-soaking for three days to extract optimal color and flavor. The fruit is then inoculated with many different yeast strains to build complexity, then fermented in separate lots using a combination of pumpovers and delestage to soften tannins. Secondary malolactic fermentation occurs in 50% American and 50% French oak barrels – 25% of which are new.
Wine Maker Notes
The fruit is hand-harvested, brought to the winery and crushed into temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. When the tanks are two-thirds to three-quarters full, the must is inoculated with selected yeasts and yeast nutrient. Fermentation takes place at temperatures of up to 85° to 90°F over a period of eight to 15 days, and once fermentation is underway, the juice is pumped over the cap of skins three times daily for a half hour each to extract maximum color. Toward the end of the alcoholic fermentation, a culture is introduced to initiate the malolactic fermentation; the wine is pressed from the skins into fresh stainless steel, where malolactic fermentation is completed over four to six weeks.
The lots are racked into French and American oak barrels of up three years' age, of which 25 to 30 percent are new, and remain separate during the 19 to 20-month aging period. Depending on the vintage, origin of oak is in proportions of 20 to 40 percent French oak, which lends refined, toasty, vanilla notes; and 60 to 80 percent American oak, which contributes tannic structure and cedar and tobacco notes. The barrels are topped roughly once every three months. At the end of the term in oak the blend is assembled, and unless it has not clarified sufficiently in barrel, the wine is bottled without filtration and held for eight months prior to release.