2020 Yarrow Merlot
93 pts, The Wine Independent | 92 pts, James Suckling | 90 pts, Decanter
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 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 okay. 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 lives above it.
The area where the Merlot is sourced are 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 2020 Yarrow is enriched with aromas of dark chocolate, mocha, and tea leaves. Fruit flavors of blueberry, strawberry, ripe red plum, and fresh blackberry fill the palate. Fresh walnut and warm spices of cinnamon and cloves complement the fruit. The wine finishes with a bright lingering mouthwatering acidity that is rounded out with smooth and elegant tannins.
With half the average rainfall during the winter and spring, there was very minimal vegetative growth. Cooler spring temperatures and a spurt of heavy rain during flowering led to a very light crop. The combination of these both created concentration, depth, and substantial density in the fruit. Several short heat spikes and a smaller crop load created optimal conditions for early ripening. We were fortunate to pick everything early, escaping any smoke damage from the devastating wildfires throughout California. Although one of our smallest vintages in history at Bell Mountain, this is offset by the exceptional quality of our 2020 wines.