ESTATE GROWN — Columbia Valley
• COMPOSITION: 95% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Syrah
• AGING: 20 months in French & American oak barrels
• pH: 3.82
• TA: 6.60g / 100 ml
• ALCOHOL: 13.7%
• PRODUCTION: 2,128 cases
Vintage 2008 got off to a cold start with April’s record-low temperatures. This very cold spring kept the vines dormant longer than normal. Bud break (when the leaves begin to emerge from the bare vines) did not occur until 2 weeks later than usual. The short springtime quickly gave way to a beautiful Columbia Valley Summer, with average daytime highs in the upper 80’s and lows in the 50’s. This weather pattern continued all the way through September. The overall growing season was cloudier than 2007, but despite this, the Merlot grapes developed extremely well. Harvest of our 2008 Merlot began on September 25th and finished on the 14th of October.
Because of the cooler weather, overall yields for the 2008 harvest came in below what we had projected at the outset – an average of 3 tons per acre. Consequently, we found that this Merlot had benefited in unexpected ways. The vines were able to produce concentrated ripe fruit with minimal effort due to the decreased crop load and cooler vintage. We were also able to expose more of the wine to new oak, adding layers of flavor and texture. The three-week harvest of the 2008 Merlot was divided into multiple picks in the vineyard. The fruit was destemmed, pumped to open top tanks and macerated for 24 hours prior to inoculation with yeast. Our cap management on the Merlot was very similar to the previous vintage with one exception. Building on the success of our drain and return technique, which increased color, flavor and tannin extraction, we added a second drain and return each day in addition to pump over and punch downs. This added drain and return provided the finished wine with clearly defined richness and texture. Prior to bottling, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Syrah were blended in. The Cabernet complemented the wine with added depth and further texture, and the touch of Syrah elevated the already amazing Merlot fruit characters.
Bright cherry fruit and vanilla are followed by aromas of chocolate-covered cherries dusted with cacao and sprinkled with rose petals. A sprig of mint lies off to the side, completing the nose of this wine. In the mouth black pepper mixes with flavors of blackberry and raspberry jam with a round, spicy complexity in the mid-palate. Firm tannins run throughout the wine, finally evolving into a harmonious finish.