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Flat front label of wine

Hearst Ranch Pico Creek Merlot 2011

Merlot from Central Coast, California
    13.5% ABV
    • WW90
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    13.5% ABV

    Winemaker Notes

    Inhale the deep, pleasant aromas of our 2011 Merlot and one will find dark jammy blackberry, licorice and graham cracker. This sumptuous wine is soft like crushed velvet, yet bold like black leather; flavors of blueberry, tobacco and black pepper mingle together. Though stout in structure, yet still well-behaved, this wine finishes strong and invites another sip.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Hearst Ranch

    Hearst Ranch

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    Hearst Ranch, Central Coast, California
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    Steve Hearst and Jim Saunders began their business and personal relationship after Jim purchased a Hearst Ranch tour at a Hearst Cancer Resource Center fundraiser. As the saying goes, "a meeting of the minds" developed into this benevolent project—Hearst Ranch Winery.

    Independently, Steve Hearst and Jim Saunders are accomplished businessmen that have the talent, imagination and integrity to create great things. Collectively, their shared vision on sustainable agriculture, resource protection and historical preservation brought Hearst Ranch Winery to fruition. These men have fostered a friendship and an enduring devotion to their community.

    The hand-crafted offerings of Hearst Ranch Winery have been brought to life by the collaboration of sound agricultural practices, impeccable winemaking and the philanthropic involvement of Steve Hearst and Jim Saunders. The fruit from California’s Central Coast vineyards is among the finest in the world. Blend in the talent of our winemaker and you get Hearst Ranch Wines, exhibiting the excellence that is a testimony to the "Legacy of Quality™"—synonymous with the Hearst tradition.

    Central Coast

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    The largest and perhaps most varied of California’s wine-growing regions, the Central Coast produces a good majority of the state's wine. This vast district stretches from San Francisco all the way to Santa Barbara along the coast, and reaches inland nearly all the way to the Central Valley.

    Encompassing an extremely diverse array of climates, soil types and wine styles, it contains many smaller sub-AVAs, including San Francisco Bay, Monterey, the Santa Cruz Mountains, Paso Robles, Edna Valley, Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Maria Valley.

    While the region could probably support almost any major grape varietiy, it is famous for a few. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel are among the major ones. The Central Coast is home to many of the state's small, artisanal wineries crafting unique, high-quality wines, as well as larger producers also making exceptional wines.

    An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot’s subtle tannins make it perfect for early drinking and allow it to pair with a wide range of foods. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc, and on the Left Bank, it plays a supporting role to (and helps soften) Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. They are often emulated elsewhere in Bordeaux-style blends, particularly in California’s Napa Valley, where Merlot also frequently shines on its own.

    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.

    Perfect Pairings

    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.

    Sommelier Secret

    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 and Cabernet Franc.

    EPC26786_2011 Item# 143460