I'm happy to bring you another small winemaker who has just set up shop in the southern part of Alexander Valley. Medlock Ames is a collaboration between two lifelong friends Christopher Medlock James and Ames Morison, who recently decided to follow their dream to become winemakers. Their story is not unlike many of the new boutique winemakers entering the market -- a desire to make great wine, a respect for the past coupled with a desire to innovate.
These new winemakers typically fall into one of two groups -- those who start by buying their grapes on the market or through a contract with a grower, and those who are fortunate enough to be able to purchase an existing estate or a new plot to be planted. Medlock Ames falls into this second category. Christopher and Ames selected a prime piece of real estate in the southern part of the Chalk Hill property in Sonoma which is known by some as Bell Mountain.
With this property, meticulously mapped into distinct blocks with a precision that smacks of a background in architecture or design (which I don't know if either of them have), these two friends have built a winery in record time. This, their inaugural vintage (crushed at Stonestreet while they worked on their winery) is a solid one, and this Merlot is the better of the two wines they released. It is 100% Merlot aged in French Oak, and in my opinion, is better than their 2000 Merlot, which is also on the market.
It's clear from their logo, packaging, Web site, and pricing, that Medlock Ames is attempting to enter the market at a premium position, and I'd say they're fairly on their way to succeeding. They're a slick operation, which is only acceptable if they actually make good wine, and I'm happy to say that they do. 658 cases made.
This wine is dark garnet colored in the glass, and has a nose that is a little to overwhelming with its aromas of oak, vanilla, and bright cherry. Hopefully some of this sweet oak aroma will dissipate as the wine ages, because the body of the wine is properly balanced despite the nose. It displays big lush plum and cherry fruit flavors with a clean and lasting finish that lacks the green bitterness that can creep its way into bad Sonoma Merlot.
The winemaker suggests this wine be paired with baked clams and prosciutto.
Overall Score: 9
How Much?: $40
As these guys are fairly under the radar, their wine is only available through the winery's site.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. 2015 Roederer Award Winner.Learn more.
How to Help Lake County After the Fire Wine and Words in Three Volumes I'll Drink to That: Robert Bohr of Charlie Bird Vinography Images: Over a Barrel Warm Up: Sicilian Wine I'll Drink to That: Salvatore Geraci of Palari Vinography Unboxed: Week of September 27, 2015 Wine News: What I'm reading the Week of 9/27 The Lodi Zinfandel Revolution Continues I'll Drink to That: Master Sommelier Guy Stout
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune