Our 1999 Columbia Valley merlot was produced from grapes grown by Conner Lee, Hedges, Artz, Sagemoor, and Champoux vineyards, on or very near the Columbia River in eastern Washington, and Pepper Bridge and Woodward Estate vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley. Merlot took longer to mature in 1999 simply because it was cooler than 1998. Average sugar for this merlot blend was over 24.5 degrees brix, but with much nicer overall balance.
This merlot was pumped over and punched down by hand three times per day in small stainless steel tanks. Some lots were fermented to dryness while others were pressed well before. After pressing, settling, and racking the various lots were moved to new French barrels for aging and maturation. Following final racking the wine was assembled and, in mid July 2000, was bottled unfined and unfiltered then laid down in our cellar for additional bottle aging.
The slower ripening 1999 vintage is beautifully reflected in this merlot. The wine shows extraordinary definition and focus for such a young wine. The ability to blend with such incredible components has allowed us to produce a spectacular wine with deep color, ripe bing cherry and concentrated cassis, chocolate and mocha. Vanilla spice from new barrels makes for a surprisingly complex red wine. The finish is long and generous. This wine may be consumed now, but it will improve significantly with bottle age. With proper storage, this wine should be enjoyable for ten years.