Ridgeline Vineyards is a boutique producer with the same ownership group as the well known and regarded Artesa Winery. Unlike Artesa which cuts a wide swath in terms of wines produced at varying tiers, Ridgeline is tightly focused on Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The 2004 Merlot from Ridgeline was produced from fruit sourced in several prime Sonoma vineyard sources, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Mountain amongst them. Less than 2,000 cases of this wine were produced. The Suggested retail price is $24.
Pouring this wine into your glass and lifting it to your nose, scents of blackberry, eucalyptus, vanilla and cedar simply burst out. When you take the first sip it's immediately apparent how smooth, silky and elegant this wine is. That said it's big, rich and round in the mouth, filling the senses with loads of flavor. More blackberry is joined by plum, mocha and gingerbread spice notes. White pepper and earthiness are the prominent flavors on a long, lush finish. Hints of smokiness come also emerge which is typical of Alexander Valley fruit. This is a wine that will stand up to a steak or other similarly hearty cuisine.
What most impresses me about this wine is that it's a truly classic example of pure Merlot at a really nice price for the quality. This wine has the structure and heft to impress Cabernet Sauvignon drinkers, yet it has no rough edges. Ridgeline Vineyards Merlot is the sort of wine you can use to blow away your Wine Geek friends. It's simply an awesome wine, and at this point Ridgeline is still a bit under the radar. This would be a perfect wine to tuck away for a special occasion. It's drinking well now and will continue to improve and drink nicely for at least 7 or 8 years. If you've been turned off to Merlot because of all the industrial tasting offerings out there, here's one that might bring you back.
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