Wine Recommendation
  Sign In
Subscribe to our newsletter
Bookmark and Share  
print this review     

Wine Recommendation

Wine: Hunter Hill Vineyard & Winery 2003 Merlot, Estate (Santa Cruz Mountains)

Hunter Hill Vineyard & Winery

2003 Merlot, Estate
(Santa Cruz Mountains)

Cool climate Merlot is a thing to be reckoned with. It’s not suitable for introducing white wine-only neophytes to red, as are many California Merlots. What most people think of as Merlot is dummed down super-sweet, soft, flabby swill. It’s like red wine with training wheels. That’s because so much of it is grown where it is warm, sunny and flat. So you get a wine that accurately reflects its terroir.

Not so with true-to-its-Bordeaux-roots Merlot. Much of the Merlot grown and made in the Santa Cruz Mountains has many of the characteristics of that classic French Right Bank stuff: it’s big, thick, powerful and sometimes a bit grippy in the tannin department. It makes your mouth work overtime.

This one from Hunter Hill falls into that category. Like many Merlots I’ve had from the Santa Cruz Mountains, this baby can arm-wrestle a Cabernet to the table in seconds flat. One whiff of the peppery nose and you know there is something powerful lying in wait. In fact, it’s an almost chile pepper nose. On the palate, it’s dried cherries, a hint of menthol and briary fruits. You can really taste the pure New Mexico Red Hatch chile core and a bit of Arbol as well. Funny, but I even got a hint of provolone cheese, and a dash of hazelnut on the finish. This one you’d do well to air out for about an hour before drinking. It’s best served with something spicy, perhaps a red chile of venison or beef, or chicken enchiladas.

(Alc: 13.5%, Retail: $20)

Reviewed December 11, 2006 by Laura Ness.


Other Awards & Accolades

Bronze Award -- Santa Cruz Mountain Winegrowers Competition 2006

The Wine

Winery: Hunter Hill Vineyard & Winery
Vineyard: Estate
Vintage: 2003
Wine: Merlot
Appellation: Santa Cruz Mountains
Grape: Merlot
Price: 750ml $20.00

Review Date: 12/11/2006

The Reviewer

Laura Ness

A wine writer and wine judge for major publications and competitions around the country, Laura Ness likens wine to the experience of music. She is always looking for that ubiquitous marriage of rhythm, melody, and flawless execution. What is good music? You know it when you get lost in it. What is good wine? It is music in your mouth.