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2004 vintage guide for California Merlot

drink soon

From the best appellations and producers, the Merlot is very ripe and concentrated with good aging potential

Weather Conditions

This year produced average quality Merlot with mixed reviews across the board. Hillside and mountain appellations produced the best Merlot, but the problem was high sugar levels in advance of flavour development. The best reds will come from those who were able to hold off harvesting until the fruit matured.
This one was an early harvest with picking going at a frantic pace throughout September. It was also compressed as 90% of wineries in the North Coast were finished by the end of September. The growing season started quickly, with bloom coming almost a month earlier than in previous years. A record three-week hot spell in early March set the tone and pushed the vines. The spring weather continued to be warm, giving way to a cooler May and June. Merlot went through veraison when the heat arrived in the last week of August and continued over the next two weeks. In the Central Coast, the heat arrived a week later, and picking there became frantic. Throughout September, the hoped-for foggy mornings did not materialise, leaving wineries to deal with warm days and unusually high humidity by early afternoon.
Yields were in general average to light. Many varieties experienced a light set due to the early flowering during the warm and windy weather.

Best Appellations

Monterey County, Mendocino County, and Napa Valley

Best Producers

Waterstone, Vine Cliff

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