2019 Yarrow Merlot
92 pts, James Suckling
Wildflowers have always been a symbol of beauty and possibility at Bell Mountain but never more so than after the 2019 Kincade Fire touched 80% of our 340 acres. When Chris and Bradley James walked the Bell Mountain Ranch, they were surrounded by the devastation as the untouched forest had been badly burned. The walk took them to the top of Bell Mountain where Bradley entered this into her journal from that day: “the top of the mountain was destroyed but no one told the wildflowers”. Yarrow is a native wildflower that floods Bell Mountain with vibrant yellow each Spring and is a constant reminder of our hope for the future and nature’s way of saying it will all be ok. We named our Merlot after this beautiful reminder of nature’s resilience and that the soil holds so much potential when the landscape above is destroyed. The hidden universe below ground remains safe and can bring back in bigger and better ways, the plants and ecosystem that live above it.
The area where the Merlot is sourced is hilly upper slopes with heavy clay soils. Our Merlot is a blend of the Jefferson clone which brings spice and structure, and clone 181 which shows more opulence and elegance.
The 2019 Yarrow Merlot is a bounty of herbal spice, rosemary, and dried fennel aromas. The palate is balanced with juicy acidity and upfront tannins that softly linger throughout the mouth. Acai berry, black plum, ripe blueberry, and chocolate-covered raspberries complement the bold but silky cocoa and coffee finish. The smooth tannins will continue to evolve over time making this a Merlot to drink through the years.
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 or untimely rainfall. These conditions allowed for a classic vintage.