Washington Merlot Harvest

vineyard image with good sunlight

grapes on vine image

 

A lot of people hate on Merlot, but it’s really freaking good…. 

Specifically Own-Rooted Merlot from the Rattlesnakes Hills in Yakima Valley.

About the Soil:

The surface layers of vineyard soils are based primarily in loess, which is mostly wind-deposited silt and fine sand derived from the sediments of the ‘Missoula’ ice age floods. The content of the soils consists of a mixture of minerals derived from both the local basalt bedrock and the granite and limestone of northern Idaho and Montana.

Most of the soils are classified as silt loams (mostly Harwood-Burke, but also Weihl and Scoon), which are low in clay. The low clay content creates well-drained soils, encouraging the vines to root more deeply, a factor generally associated with high quality grapes and wines. It also creates an inhospitable environment for phylloxera, an aphid-like pest that feeds on the roots of grapevines. Due in large part to the clay-poor soils, the Yakima Valley is one of the few places on earth where European wine grapes (such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir) can still be grown on their own roots, also a factor generally associated with high quality.

The shallow soil profile contains large chunks of calcium-caked gravel and calcium carbonate horizons called “Caliche”. In most areas, the caliche forms a conspicuous white layer under the topsoil that adds mineral complexity. The deep roots of the vines penetrate through the surface layer of loess, which averages 18 inches in thickness throughout most of the vineyard, and into the underlying calcium-rich substrate. This gravelly, high pH substrate forces the vines to struggle, an additional factor associated with high quality grapes and wine.

About Being Own-Rooted:

An Own-Rooted vine is a vine that has no rootstock. This is not common in most wine regions around the world. The rootstock & vine grafting was necessary at one point to protect from specific diseases such as Phylloxera. The Washington soil type is made up of a fine silt loam which Phylloxera hates – this is why they can plant Own-Rooted vines.

It is said that there are differences in the wines from Own-Rooted vs. Rootstock Grafted Vines. There is much debate around this issue. It looks like you will have to be the judge!

About the Merlot Grapes:

The Merlot Clone coming from this vineyard has clusters that are small to medium in size. The berries are small and round. This clone produces a high vigor vine that creates a dense canopy. Yield is usually around 3-5 ton acre depending on the growing season.

The clone produces a soft, full-bodied, fruity wine full of many different complexities. A great Merlot that can stand alone and age – or be added to a blend to give the wine that extra punch of structure.

Looking forward to enjoying some Own Rooted Merlot from Washington, specifically from Two Mountain Winery. Do you have any other suggestions of great Washington State Merlot?

Two Mountain Winery Merlot:

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Tasting Notes

Aromas of rich toasted barrel, bright vibrant Bing cherry, blackberry and coffee on the nose are followed by inviting flavors of ripe red fruits, hints of toffee and vanilla, with hints and soft integrated tannins. {86 Points — Wine Enthusiast}

Alcohol: 13.9% pH 3.82

Aging: 20 Months French, American, and Hungarian Oak (SUPER Interesting, I’ve never blended oak before. Will definitely have to try this in the future) 40% New Oak

Purchase: $22.00/bottle

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