The 2017 growing season commenced with a wet spring followed by a temperate, gorgeous summer. A mid-September heatwave was followed by a cooling period which lengthened the growing season leading to optimal ripeness. The second week of October saw high winds which brought disaster in the form of fires. Fortunately, the entirety of the fruit was harvested before this devastating event. The 2017 La Jota Merlot showcases dark ripe berries, black cherry, and espresso bean. A broad textural impact charms the mid-palate and classic Howell Mountain minerality drives the long, opulent finish.
We hand-harvested grapes into small, 30-pound boxes to prevent crushing, and then we brought them to the winery for hand-sorting. After destemming and light crushing, the must was cold-soaked for gentle color, flavor and tannin extraction. Winemaker Chris Carpenter fermented the juice with native yeast in a combination of open and closed-top stainless steel tanks. Following gentle basket press, the wine underwent in-barrel malolactic fermentation, rounding the acidity and integrating the vanilla character of French oak. The wine was barrel-aged for 20 months and bottled unfined and unfiltered.