91pts - Wine Advocate
When Chris James and Ames Morison found Bell Mountain Ranch in 1997, they discovered old Merlot vines planted on terraces that had been neglected for years. The swings in elevation from the terraces to the flats produced a merlot of finesse and rich fruit characteristics. The rows were planted 12 feet apart decades before as that was the regional standard to accommodate the fruit tractors available at the time. Ames decided to plant additional rows of Merlot in between the existing vines. These new rows are now 20 years old and form the basis of our Rose of Merlot.
Our 2019 Rosé continues our tradition of utilizing the direct-to-press method which results in a lighter, fresher style than the saignée method we used to use. We purposefully select a few of our older blocks that tend to give us a subtle, delicate flavor profile that we love in our Rosé. The wine is tank fermented and aged to preserve its crispness. We also stir the lees every other week to enhance the body and add richness. In this vintage, we added a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon for the first time to enhance the palate weight and add a floral dimension.
This Merlot-based rosé offers beautiful up-front aromas of rose petals, cotton candy, and fresh, ripe strawberries, with a faint note of cinnamon and orange peel. On the palate we find rich berry and rose-water flavors, with a juicy acidity and round mouthfeel to balance the freshness.
2019 offered nearly ideal growing conditions: a warm spring with some later rainfall set us up for good early season growth which was followed by a moderately warm summer that lasted well into October without any severe temperatures of untimely rainfall. These conditions allowed for a classic vintage.