87% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Malbec, 1% Cabernet Franc
Deep garnet with a ruby edge, the 2012 SIMI Sonoma County Merlot has rich, dark notes of blackberry and plum with cocoa, nutmeg, and earthy hints of cedar and bay laurel. Smoky bacon notes frame bright fruit aromas into a compelling mixture of bright fruit with exotic spice and toast. Red and dark fruits play off each other with layer after luscious layer—both youthful and concentrated.
We’re happy with the wine’s structure and its wonderfully balanced acidity. Plum follows through on the palate, along with black cherry and rich blackberry preserves, lightly lifted by toast and vanilla notes. This medium- to full-bodied Merlot possesses depth and richness, finishing with youthful tannins.
Greatness often shows itself from the very beginning, and that’s true for the Alexander Valley which first achieved fame for its red wines in the 1860s. Today the Alexander Valley remains focused on reds, in particular Bordeaux varieties such as Merlot. Most of the fruit for this wine, rich with blackberry and plum, comes from the Alexander Valley including grapes from our Red Fan and Los Amigos estate vineyards. We harvested another 7% of the fruit from our Goldfields estate vineyard which exhibits the red cherry and light spice of the cooler and foggier Russian River Valley. The remaining fruit comes from the warmer, sunnier Sonoma Valley known for its depth, richness, and light licorice spice.
2012 was a great growing season for red varietals. A wet spring with rains stopping at flowering set up an extended growing season with moderate temperatures of 88-90ºF. Cool nights and foggy mornings allowed for a slow, gentle ripening, giving full fruit expression and ripe tannins. We harvested the grapes for this wine earlier than last year, starting on September 15 and finishing on October 24. Brix levels at harvest were precisely what we hope for with Merlot, ranging from 23.3 to 25.4º. We couldn’t be happier with the results of this growing season: Big fruit flavors with concentration, elegance, and brilliant acidity.
We fermented our 2012 Sonoma County Merlot in stainless steel, with daily pump-overs to increase color and flavor extraction. For the same reason, we left the juice on the skins for a generous 21 days to allow rich flavors and dense color to develop. All of the wine then underwent a secondary, malolactic fermentation before being aged for 14 months in a combination of small French and American oak barrels, of which 20% were new. We blended this Merlot with small amounts of three other red Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon (12%), Malbec (1%), and Cabernet Franc (1%).
We think you’d enjoy pairing with wild mushroom risotto, goat cheese ravioli with brown butter and hazelnuts, or a roasted lamb leg with stone fruit chutney.