Ancient Peaks Paso Robles Merlot 2016
Blend: 88% Merlot, 12% Petite Sirah
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
We are a family-owned winery specializing in estate-grown wines from Margarita Vineyard, the southernmost vineyard in the Paso Robles appellation on California’s Central Coast.
Just look at a map of Paso Robles wineries and at the very southern tip you will find our Vineyard. Here, amid the rugged Santa Lucia mountain range just 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean, Margarita Vineyard stands alone as the only vineyard in its vicinity, and thus the only vineyard to benefit from the extraordinary growing conditions of the area. Margarita Vineyard resides in the historic Santa Margarita Ranch, which was first planted to vines by Franciscan missionaries in 1774.
Ancient Peaks and Margarita Vineyard are owned by three longtime local winegrowing families—the Filipponis, Rossis and Wittstroms—who are actively involved in the daily operations of the vineyard and winery. Ancient Peaks wines are crafted under the guidance of Mike Sinor, a local winemaking veteran and one of the highest-rated winemakers on the Central Coast.
Ancient Peaks implements numerous sustainable viticultural practices to ensure natural quality in their wines while protecting the rich, native environment surrounding the Margarita Vineyard. Their practices have earned SIP (Sustainability in Practice) Certification for Margarita Vineyard, the leading standard for viticultural sustainability.
Composed of steep mountain slopes of ancient Salinas River origins at 900 to 1,400 feet in elevation, Santa Margarita Ranch is in the southern portion of the greater Paso Robles AVA.
An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot can be made into a range of styles from everyday-drinking to world-renowned and age-worthy. Merlot is the dominant variety in the best wines from Bordeaux’s Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol where it is blended with Cabernet Franc. On the Left Bank in the Medoc, it plays a supporting role to Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. Merlot also frequently shines on its own, particularly from California’s Napa Valley.
In the Glass
Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.
Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.
Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot with Cabernet Franc.