2013 Ridge Estate Merlot, Santa Cruz Mountains, California

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A dry, warm winter prompted unusually early bud break; the small crop alleviated some water stress on the vines. Destemmed, the grapes fermented as whole berries, and were pressed on the seventh day. After barrel malolactics and fourmonths on their gross lees, the six lots were racked, combined, and returned to barrel; rich texture and intense mountain fruit supported a high percentage of new oak in aging. Enjoyable now, this superb vintage will develop further complexity to 2023.