2014 Martin Ray Stags Leap Merlot
Sourced from the same vineyard on an adjacent block to our Reserve Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon, the volcanic alluvial soil that makes up the foothills of the Vaca Mountains provides the same ideal growing conditions to produce an outstanding Merlot. The exposure of the vineyard creates a dramatic warming and cooling effect during the summer months, which in turn, stresses the vines causing them to produce small, dense clusters intense in color and flavor.
The 2014 vintage was challenging due to drought, but produced amazing fruit with smaller clusters and lower yields. An ideal harvest with consistently moderate temperatures and weather conditions, allowed the vines and fruit to stay healthy and maintain concentrated flavors and exceptional quality.
Hand-picked, sorted, and destemmed into small open-top fermenters, our Merlot is cold-soaked for four days, then fermented at warm temperatures. The cap is managed by gentle pumpovers for the purpose of preventing the over-extraction of tannins, and maintaining a rich body and fruit-forward palate. After reaching dryness, the wine is allowed extended maceration for up to 28 days with minimal disturbance. It is then gently basket pressed to 45% new French oak, with a very small portion of American oak for nuance, where it is aged for 16 months.
True to its varietal and appellation, our Stags Leap Merlot is blue fruit-driven, combined with aromas of wild blackberries and baked figs, a touch of floral violet blossoms, and underlying creamy butterscotch. Although full-bodied and well structured, its tannins are present but unobtrusive. This wine is sure to be loved by Merlot fans, but is refined enough to appeal to any red wine drinker.