I remember the first time I visited Moon Mountain Vineyard in Sonoma pretty distinctly. It was November of 1998; and it was still called Carmenet Winery. I went with my friend Dave with whom I write the website Drink Dry Creek. We were both impressed with the wines and the facility. It became somewhat of a regular stop for me. Their benchmark wine at the time was their Meritage; a Bordeaux style blend. Today it’s labeled as a Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. I believe the intent is the same. In any case they make small quantities of the components that made up the blend. Today I’ll look at such a release from the 2000 Vintage. The 2000 Moon Mountain Vineyard Merlot was produced from fruit in the Feather Block of their Estate Vineyard. This sits on the southwest side of Mount Veeder at a 1,700 foot elevation. The offering is 100% Merlot. Oak aging was accomplished over 21 months in French Barrels. A mere 196 cases of this offering were produced. At release this wine sold for approximately $30.
I recall tucking this Merlot away about 5 years ago and thinking it would have a really positive evolution with some time in the bottle. So when I popped the cork, more than anything, I was curious if it turned out that way or not. The nose of this Merlot was filled with violets, blackberries and subtle plum notes. The palate still had quite a bit of fruit, but it was softer, and more restrained than it had been on release; becoming lush and smooth. Touches of pencil lead emerged, leading to a finish that was loaded with earth, mineral notes, black tea and dusty cocoa. This wine still had good structure and fine acidity.
This is a beautiful expression of well made Merlot produced from Mountain fruit. I was glad to see that time in the bottle served it well. Of course now I wish I had a case of it tucked away, but alas I do not.