ESTATE GROWN — Columbia Valley

• COMPOSITION: 98% Merlot, 2% Syrah
• AGING: 31 months in French & American oak barrels
• pH: 3.87
• TA: 5.38g / 100mL
• ALCOHOL: 13.7%
• PRODUCTION: 2,525 cases


Vintage

In 2009, with cold weather persisting well into May, we had serious concerns about our Merlot ripening by harvest time. Fortunately, the cool spring quickly transitioned into a hot summer, with record-breaking heat in July and August. As the calendar turned to September, the grapes began the change from hard and green to juicy and purple. The thermometer showed low 80’s in the afternoons, letting the fruit fully ripen without overly stressing the vines.


Winemaking

Our goal in crafting the 2009 Merlot was to preserve and, if possible, enhance the character of the delicious fruit. Harvested in ½ ton picking bins, the fruit was brought directly from the field to the winery. To extract color and flavor prior to the onset of fermentation, the grapes were de-stemmed, crushed and pumped into our open top fermenters where we macerated the fruit for 24 hours prior to yeast addition. After we initiated fermentation, cap management began in earnest with drain-and-returns performed on all tanks twice a day–the wine is drained from the tank through the racking valve on the tank and splashed through a stainless steel screen and into a sump. The wine is then pumped to another tank until no more wine can be drained from the tank. The wine is then pumped back over the top of the must, flooding the cap with wine. In this fashion we guarantee that we are working with the entire volume of the tank, increasing extraction of the tannins from the grapes. By splashing the wine we infuse the must with oxygen which helps soften the tannins and improve mouth feel. Once the sugar was consumed by the yeast, we pressed off the wine and placed it into a mixture of French and American Oak barrels for 31 months. This aging mellows the wines developing additional complexity. Prior to bottling, 2% Syrah was blended in to elevate the already amazing Merlot fruit characters.


Winemaker Comments

Aromas of toasted marshmallow and burnt crème waft from the glass followed by raspberry jam and crème de cassis. “Herbs de Provence” lingers in the background. The first sip is luscious and flavors of sweet almost jammy fruit blend seamlessly with the wine’s tannins. The wine finishes with a cleansing finish, reminiscent of graphite.