2017 Heritage Merlot
92 pts Wine Advocate
In the early years of America’s founding, President Thomas Jefferson planted grapes at Monticello and cultivated his vineyard. Today, the Jefferson Merlot Clone is revered for its strength, ability to adapt to its surroundings, and spice. Our oldest Merlot blocks on Bell Mountain Ranch’s north side are planted to this clone and it is this connection to our past that we honor with the name Heritage. The area where the grapes are sourced is a hilly, upper slope with heavy clay soil. This steep, shallow soiled terrain limits vine vigor and gives us our lowest yields on the ranch. But the fruit produced has intense flavor and tannin.
Our 2017 Heritage is generous with primary aromas of blackberry, blueberry, and plum, with floral and toasty notes followed by the smell of new leather. Take one sip and enjoy the mouthwatering bright acidity on the palate where rich berry fruits mingle with chocolate flavors that evolve into a lingering finish.
2017 was a year of extremes. The winter gave us twice our normal rainfall ending a five-year drought. The summer then came on with more scorchers than we care to count (16 days over 100 degrees!). Despite the challenging growing conditions, the extremes ripened the grapes in magical ways allowing us to make some of our greatest wines – bright, aromatic whites and rosé plus supple, concentrated reds. As with everything in winemaking (and with farming in general), timing was key. Knowing when to pick (and being lucky!) made all the difference.