With drier harvest conditions and warmer than average temperatures in Eastern WA, the 2014 season experienced growing degree-day accumulations to record numbers. This allowed for a wonderful, though compressed harvest and the red grapes were deeply colored and full flavored.
Merlot is typically one of the first grapes to ripen, which can result in high sugar content. In a hot year like 2014, it is very important to have a later ripening site for Merlot to allow the fruit to gain additional flavors while keeping overall balance. This is one reason why Minnick Hills Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley is such a good site for growing Merlot.
The south-facing slope, at 1150 ft elevation, is higher than most vineyards in Walla Walla, and perfectly suited to soaking up the warm sun while simultaneously drawing a welcoming breeze that creates good air circulation through the vines. The earth layers at Minnick Hills are a sought-after combination of Mt. Mazama volcanic ash content, with windblown loess; this provides deep, extremely well-drained soils. Good drainage means we don’t have to worry so much about an early frost, this allows for longer hang-time in the fall, giving the grapes time to fully ripen. The rich blackberry and dark cherry flavors and generous finish led us to reserve this exceptional small lot for our ANVIL program.
To determine which wines become ANVIL, we blind taste to compare all of our vineyard lots, which are kept separate; blind tasting is best to avoid bias towards a given wine. We could tell early on that this was a wine worthy of ANVIL, with an abundance of flavors and a thick, mouth-coating density.
Merlot benefits from the warm days and dry sandy conditions we have in Eastern Washington, it yields generous and velvety fruit that can rival the best Cabernets, without waiting an extra ten years for the wine to come around.
NOSE: white pepper, jammy fruit, boysenberry, wet stone
MOUTH: rich blackberry and dark cherry