Tasting Note                         

92+     1997 Ridge Santa Cruz Mtns Merlot          1/25/06 ($37)

100% Merlot, 13.2% alc
Color: Deep black garnet with a slight touch of onion skin around the rim, but no clearing. Still a little young. (3.5) Bouquet: Some gout de vieux combined with cigarbox embracing blackberry liqueur fruit and smooth tannins. A little restrained in fruit at this point, but powerful (somehow reminiscent of a fine Brunello, due to the combo of terroir and oak treatment) with Merlot fruit. (3.0) Body: A heavyweight (especially for a Merlot) with strong tannic structure that is quite mouthcoating, but somehow the fruit stands up to it. (3.5) Flavor: The flavor is a little restrained at this point, showing cedary oak in a classy Merlot package of blackberry and cherry fruit with good acidity. (2.5) Finish: After 1.5 hrs of decanting, the finish has become its best attribute, being long, tannic and fruity with impressive persistence. It has a lively minerality that breaths excitement into the varietal character. (3.5)
Overall: A wonderful Merlot that just needs time. Definitely more Bordeaux in style than CA, but has a distinction particular to the SCM. Great potential here. Keep your fingers crossed and hope it matches the ’96 in 2-4 years. (16.0)