Monday, August 10, 2015

Merlot From The Santa Margarita Ranch AVA

The folks at Ancient Peaks Winery talk a lot about the unique terroir they have at their Margarita Vineyard.  That's not just a lot of air, either.  The estate vineyard sports five different soil types, from ancient oyster beds to the remainder of ancient volcanos.  Indeed, they sit in the shadow of those ancient peaks.  They boast that the "Santa Margarita Ranch AVA is situated along the foot of the coastal Santa Lucia Mountain Range, roughly 25 miles southeast of the city of Paso Robles and just 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the west."  Oh, yeah, that's another claim they now have: "Our estate Margarita Vineyard now enjoys the rare distinction of being the only vineyard located within its own namesake AVA."  Well, isn't that special!  Yes, in fact, it is.

The 2012 Ancient Peaks Merlot hails from that distinctive terroir, and AP Director of Winemaking Mike Sinor says the 2012 is even more special that the previous two vintages. "2010 and 2011 were very cold, very challenging vintages" Sinor states in the wine’s video. "With '12, we got sort of a nice weather profile, a nice amount of rain and we could tell very early in the vintage that we had a very special year for Merlot."

The Merlot grapes come from three of their six blocks devoted to Merlot. According to the website, "Block 7 yields dark, intensely flavored fruit with both softness and power. Block 4 produces lighter red fruit qualities with lively acidity, while Block 5 splits the difference with a blend of black and red fruit characteristics." The wine is 85% Merlot, 13% Malbec and there is a two percent splash of Cabernet Sauvignon. Aging occurred over 18 months in French and American oak barrels.  4,501 cases were produced, and it sells online for around $15.

This wine is deep and dark. The inky indigo color telegraphs the nose, exploding with blue and black berries and cassis, a whiff of campfire smoke and a mountain of prehistoric terroir. The palate is laden with dark fruit, too, not to mention spice and earth. The sage and rosemary linger into a finish that won't let you forget them. The tannic structure is fit for meat and aging while the acidity refreshes and causes the mouth to water.


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