2018 Reserve Merlot
A quintessential Paso Robles Merlot, this wine opens with fresh blackberry, notes of elderberry and plum, making way for deep black cherry on the midpalate. Balanced with the fruit are soft, supple tannins, backed by hints of chicory and clove, finishing with a touch of cocoa dust.
Grown on the western edge of the Paso Robles AVA, these grapes experience a unique microclimate of very warm days countered by cool nights and mornings courtesy of the marine influence that penetrates through the Templeton Gap. Temperature fluctuations of as much as 50° F in a single day stress the grapes to produce concentrated, bold aromas and flavors.
From start to finish, 2018 was a very steady season, offering weather that was reminiscent of years prior to drought. Budbreak came later in the spring with very little concern about frost, leading into steady growing temperatures with occasional rain. There were intermittent heat spikes in June and July, though not prolonged, pushing the season along. August was temperate, allowing slow ripening and complex flavors to develop. Higher than average yields and excellent quality brought about a fruitful harvest beginning in late August.
Picked overnight into ½ ton bins to avoid the heat of the day, and delivered to us in the early morning hours, the grapes are destemmed to stainless steel fermenters. Pumpovers are performed three times daily with a gentle overhead sprinkler that slowly percolates the juice through the cap to avoid over-extracting the intense tannins. After finishing primary fermentation, the wine is allowed to sit on the skins for up to 10 days to broaden and soften the mouthfeel, before being pressed to 50% new French and American oak to age for 14 months.