Alice Sutro’s estate Merlot is not varietal; it’s 85 percent Merlot blended with 11 percent Cabernet Sauvignon plus 2 percent each Petit Verdot and Malbec. The grapes are grown on vines anchored in volcanic tuff bedrock in Warnecke Ranch, in the foothills of the Mayacamas range. The fruit cold soaked for a day and was fermented cold, then pressed without a lengthy maceration. The wine aged for 22 months in barrels, a mix of 80 percent neutral French and 20 percent new Hungarian oak.
It’s rubescent, youthful looking. The fragrance offers Merlot’s classic red cherry fruit wreathed in leafy greenery. It’s also somewhat lifted, in part because of relatively high alcohol. The palate delivers juicy flavors of cherries and finishes in deeper notes of juniper berry and cedar. Overall, the fruit feels firm and forward and the acidity is moderate, but the wine has sufficient details to suggest cellaring for three to five years.
2017 Sutro Merlot Warnecke Ranch Alexander Valley Sonoma County
14.5% | $40 (sample)