Mission Codename LOT-ta Mer-LOT
Just last summer dear Operatives, the Cabernet Franc version of this ALMOST EXACTLY THE SAME wine truly stole the show. Looking at the numbers there’s a good chance that you already had, or still have a bottle of it to agree that it’s an astonishing value. This Merlot rendition from the identical awesome vineyard and vintage is a minor varietal variation on the same theme. It’s a LOT of Merlot for under $20. Chalk Hill is the covert common denominator they share, it’s where Bordeaux grapes truly shine with transparency and character, one of the lesser-known but historically proven facts that are evidently at play here.
Alluring vivid ruby leaning to the darker side, yet with a vibrant lighter crimson rim that glows. Appetizing aromas of blueberries, red plums, nectarine, milk chocolate and a touch of nutmeg grace the nose while the palate is equally delicious with a wonderful texture and similar flavors to the nose that is overdelivering. This Merlot also has impressive length given the modest price with lingering smooth tannins, sappy fruit and spices. For pairing ideas, it would go perfectly with handmade pasta dishes in rich Marinara, Bolognese or Ragù sauces and grated pecorino over it, lots of it!
Jason De Loach is with the current generation of the clan’s winemaking legacy, growing up in vineyards during the heyday of De Loach Vineyards. Building his reputation upon studies at SRJC and UC Davis, he cut his teeth in Chile and at Balletto Vineyards before taking the helm at Hook & Ladder. Jason has his pick of fruit from the more than 148 acres of vineyards farmed by his grandfather and family patriarch Cecil De Loach since 1970. This enviable access to Russian River Valley and Chalk Hill’s most sought-after grapes provides Jason with the “spice rack” of options necessary to craft elegantly balanced wines of extraordinary expression, depth, and complexity.
Chalk Hill AVA is highly reputable. It resides in a true sweet spot in Sonoma County, especially for Bordeaux varietals and Chardonnay. Home of prominent names such as Chalk Hill Estate, Lancaster and Rodney Strong, it’s surrounded by Alexander Valley, Knights Valley, and Russian River Valley, which it overlaps with. The unique chalky white volcanic ash soils here set it apart, resulting in wines with distinct personalities.
Add to all that affirmation of quality the huge TWS savings and you have yourselves a sub-$20 Merlot that will blow minds for its bang for the buck.
What the Winery Says
2015 Los Amigos Ranch Chalk Hill Estate Merlot
- Jason De Loach
- 100% Merlot
- Chalk Hill, Sonoma County
- Los Amigos Ranch
- 6.6 g/L
- Harvest date
- September 9-22, 2015
- 17 months
- 25% new Hungarian and American oak
- Bottling date
- July 24, 2017
- 25 barrels