While it is never easy getting grapes to mature perfectly, the 1999 vintage was a little more challenging than most. The cooler coastal vineyard sites in normal years allow for slow maturation, but the 1999 growing season was colder than usual. Luckily, the crop size was small. This fact was the vintage's salvation. Even an average size crop would not have ripened. This year's wine benefited from blending a significant amount of Cabernet Sauvignon from some of the warmer and riper vineyard site. In a
curious reversal of the usual pattern, some of the highest quality red wines were from some of the warmer regions in 1999. The art of blending played a significant role this year. One of the nice things about Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and the other Bordeaux varietals is that they take well to each other in a blend.
The flavor profile is classical, with the Merlot giving the red berry freshness and a hint of herbs, while the Cabernet pulls it together with a darker plum-like fruit and the typical cedar. Like all the Echelon wines, the oak flavors are in the background, with the fruit flavors occupying the foreground. Merlot has the structure to stand up to almost any food. It has enough tannins to
pair well with meats such as lamb or duck, and is delicate enough to serve with pasta dishes.
-Larry Brooks, Consulting Winemaker