Austin Hope Merlot 2020
Often an overlooked varietal, our Merlot is a classic display of this noble grape. On the nose, dark berry flavors and sweet vanilla intertwine with spicy pepper. Rich flavors of black cherry, sweet plum and dark chocolate evolve with the rich fine tannins that linger through the finish.
Vineyard Notes: The 2020 growing season and harvest was near normal in some ways and very unusual in others. Rainfall was 12% below average with the bulk of the storms occurring in early winter and early spring. Spring frost threats were mild. Vine growth and berry development was normal through spring. Then, Summer brought relentless heatwaves that lasted for days at a time. Wildfires began erupting throughout the state and the region was inundated with smoke from fires burning both to the north and south of Paso Robles from early August through the end of September. This pattern slowed berry development. October was warm and dry, which helped to quickly mature clusters. Harvest was condensed and flurried as most fruit ripened at the same time. Yields were down by 20% but initial and thorough testing showed no damage from the smoke and very promising quality.
Winemaker Notes: After harvest, three vineyard lots were fermented individually in small stainless-steel tanks for 10-14 days. Extended macerations and carefully managed pump overs enhanced the extraction of color and tannin. The lots were aged separately for 6 months in 93% new American Oak and 7% once used French Oak. The wine was racked only once during its cellar life where 24% of the blend was moved onto new French Oak. The final racking occurred just prior to filtering and bottling in late July of 2021.