Immediately upon opening 2019 Santa Cruz Mountains Merlot the wine is black bramble, cedar, tobacco wrapper, and an almost enveloping sense of depth. Upfront the fruit profile is dark and almost brooding, but as the wine evolves over your palate the fruit turns brighter; think pomegranate, currant, and alpine blueberries. The juxtaposition is engaging and brings life to the end palate in the form of bright acidity and a gripping mouthfeel that lingers long after the wine has passed. For food pairings consider something high in both protein and fat; you can go classic with a grilled or roasted cut of beef, or spice things up with yakitori. Drink now – 2030.
22 Months on 70% French; 10% Eastern European & 20% American Oak
Concentrated and dark ruby-purple in hue, the 2016 Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon is a delightful combination of fresh black fruit and appealing savory elements. Dense and energetic, this cabernet is resplendent with rich aromas of briny olives- both black and kalamata- along with toasty cocoa powder, black currant and juicy black cherry, warm pipe tobacco, and dried herbs. Well integrated but mouth-coating tannins combine with tart plum skin, anise and gravely crushed granite on the palate. - Jillian R.
This wine is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon and 24% Merlot. Grapes sourced from two vineyards from the Eastern side of the Santa Cruz Mountains; Merlot came from one of those vineyards. 2016 was a drought year but not overly hot so Cabernet Sauvignon got a lot of hang time accentuating the varietal character. One vineyard provides fruit and the varietal characteristic of the Cab while the other provides the tannin and structure for the longevity of the wine. The Merlot was added to soften the edges and add depth.
The 3 lots, Merlot and two Cabernet Sauvignon were fermented separately and integrated after pressing; initially 75% into French and 25% Eastern European Oak. 8 months prior to bottling the wines were racked off the sediment and returned to 50% French and 50% American Oak Barrels to expand the subtle influence of the American Oak on the wine.
Our intended style was a Bordeaux style wine which is utterly possible from the growing climate that the Santa Cruz Mountains provide both with elevation and the cooling effect of the ocean. Our first vintage with Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernet began with developing sources of fruit that fulfilled our intended style. Thru perseverance we created relationships with growers who's vision matches ours. We knew one source was going to be tannic and highly structured so we brought in the Merlot as a softening element. The wine making goal was always to have the fruit and varietal essence standout in the glass and be lifted by the oak rather than taken over by it. Early on the European oak had the wine smell like Kahlua which gave way completely and softened so much so in the winter of 2018 it was obvious more oak influence was warranted thus the transfer including more American Oak. The decision to bottle was made at the confluence of the American oak showing up and the wine being balanced. This wine is enjoyable now but will continue to develop for 10-12 years. - Mark H.
Food Pairing Notes
The full-bodied nature and slight steeliness of this wine will serve it well alongside a perfectly grilled medium-rare ribeye, though a burger or tender pot roast would also make excellent pairings. - Jillian R.