2018 Secret Ingredient Malbec
92 pts James Suckling; 90 pts Jeb Dunnuck
While we are primarily focused on Cabernet Sauvignon, our love affair with Bordeaux varietals led us to plant the remaining 4 classic Bordeaux blending grapes including Malbec. In 2010 we harvested our first Malbec from Bell Mountain Ranch. Although we only had enough to fill one barrel, it was our favorite wine that year. Continuing our tradition of experimentation, we used a little of the Malbec to add to our other blends, and we marveled that it miraculously made everything better. It became our “secret ingredient”. When we finally had enough Malbec to make into its own bottling, we knew we had the perfect name – Secret Ingredient.
The 2018 Secret Ingredient has a lush nose of blueberry, blackberry, and clove spice. Bright tannins fill the palate that is balanced with an elegant acidity and pleasing rich flavors of orange peel, mixed berry, and black cherry. A wine that will continue to evolve into something truly magnificent with patience.
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.