In the U.S. there are no regulations for the term reserve. The term is self-regulated with winemaker integrity being the underlying value that gives the term its credence. Reserve wine is a term given to a specific wine to imply that it is of a higher quality than usual, or that it has been aged before being sold, or both. Traditionally winemakers would “reserve” some of their best wine. In some countries the use of the term reserve/reserva/riserva is regulated. Sometimes, reserve wine originates from the best vineyards, or the best barrels, making it more special. Additionally, reserve wines might be made in a style suited for longer aging periods. However, in regions where the use is not regulated the mere presence of the term “reserve” on a wine label may be only marketing strategy.
The 2011 Merlot Reserve is produced from certified organically farmed Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes grown from our 20-year old Estate vineyard. Farmed to California Certified Organic Farmer (C.C.O.F.) specifications, Sunstone Estate vineyards produces ultra-premium quality wines with distinct varietal character, thanks to the site’s unique terroir.
During harvest the grapes were sorted, lightly crushed, and de-stemmed and pumped into open top fermentation bins. After cold soaking, the grapes were inoculated with BDX and BM45 yeast and allowed to ferment and macerate for 10-days on the skins to extract maximum color and flavor. Following fermentation, the wines were racked to 10% new and 90% neutral French oak barrels. After barrel aging for 30-months, the separate lots were blended to taste in May of 2014, before being bottled in June of 2014.
A spicy and floral array of complex aromas from crushed red peppers, rose petals, thyme, black tea, dill and white pepper elongate into dried cranberries, dark cherries, dark plum, blackberries, and orange rind, followed by caramel, subtle smoked cedar and wet-hot stones. This Reserve quality Merlot slowly evolves after 20-minutes into an elegant, heady wine with a superb mouth feel of velvety tannins balanced by perfect acidity.
With proper cellaring this 2011 vintage Reserve Merlot was aged in the barrel long enough for consumers to enjoy from 2015 through 2018.
94% Merlot, “Miles” Block, Sunstone Estate Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara County
6% Cabernet Franc, “Mason” Block, Sunstone Estate Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara County
Alc: 14.6% • pH: 3.66 • TA: 0.58 g/L • Residual Sugar: 0.18 g/L