2018 Heritage Merlot
92 pts Jeb Dunnuck; 90 pts James Suckling
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. The fruit these vines produces has intense flavor and tannin.
Our 2018 Heritage Merlot is filled with bright mouthwatering acidity giving freshness that brings the palate to life with elegant characters of blueberry, black cherry, spiced plum, cocoa, and fresh herbs. A very structured mouthfeel offers an abundance of minerality and lushness making this a wine that can be enjoyed now but will also open over the years. Enjoy alongside the fire or together with your favorite summer grilling.
The winter gave us less rainfall than normal. Almost all of the precipitation came in the early spring, so the vineyard had a full profile of water to start the growing season. We saw good early growth, a few warm periods, but no severe heat spikes. The key ripening period in late summer and early fall was cool and sunny, delaying harvest by a week but allowing full flavor development. We were blessed with a vintage we always dream about: abundant fruit of excellent quality.